Since he became the US ambassador to Russia in January, Michael Mcfaul has had a somewhat tumultuous time. He has been lambasted by pro-Putin groups for meeting with opposition leaders and subject to numerous accusations of being a Trojan horse, bearing the threat of western democratization in his besuited belly. Today a flurry of media commentary has emerged around the Stanford professor’s recent tweets regarding the apparent omnipresence of state run media outlet NTV crew. The issue first emerged with a video, which can be seen here, showing a smiling McFaul become increasingly irritated with an NTV news crew, as he defends his decision to meet with opposition activist Lev Ponomaryov.
Subsequent to this, the narked diplomat tweeted suspicions that his Blackberry may be wiretapped, for the press to have continual knowledge of his schedule. The particularly surprising aspect of the incident is not so much the implication that he is subject to state sponsored surveillance (his twitter account was already hacked once) but rather the level of transparency with which he has reacted. Where surveillance might once have been met with tacit acquiescence, it now yields tweets of outrage. Also on Twitter, opposition leader Alexei Navanly has suggested McFaul take his protest one step further: “I don’t understand McFaul. He’s got diplomatic immunity. He can just lawfully beat up the NTV journalists. Come on, Mike! One for all!”