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Russia Downplays U.S. Spy Scandal

Published: May 16, 2013 (Issue # 1759)



  • McFaul exiting the Foreign Ministry building on Wednesday.
    Photo: Misha Japaridze / AP

Senior Russian officials on Wednesday downplayed the capture and release of an alleged U.S. spy, suggesting that while the incident won't help already battered relations, it also won't derail cooperation on international issues, including a newly launched effort to end Syria's civil war.

"Russia and the United States have serious work to do on Syria, Iran and North Korea. We need to solve these problems and not waste energy on political hysterics stemming from a fairly banal case of espionage," said Alexei Pushkov, head of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, by telephone on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent an equally strong signal that the spy scandal, images of which have lit up state-run TV, would not hinder international cooperation, with Lavrov telling reporters that it hadn't even been worth their time to discuss on the eve of an Arctic Council summit in Sweden.

"We didn't discuss it. Kerry didn't mention it, and I decided that it would have been superfluous to talk about it, because everything is already clear, and everybody understands everything," Lavrov said in a video posted on the Foreign Ministry's website Wednesday.

Back in Moscow, U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul's trip to the Foreign Ministry, which summoned him in the wake of U.S. diplomat Ryan Fogle's detention, seemed a mere formality. The ambassador was presented with a formal letter of complaint, then the two sides discussed legal cooperation and other issues, the ministry said in an online statement.

Video footage of McFaul and his entourage leaving the ministry he refused to speak to reporters after the meeting on Wednesday morning could scarcely have been further from the grim images of Fogle's capture and dressing-down that were broadcast the day before.

The Federal Security Service said Tuesday that it had detained Fogle, a third secretary in the political section of the U.S. Embassy, late Monday night as he tried to recruit a member of Russia's secret services. He was carrying technical equipment, instructions for the recruited Russian citizen, disguises and a large sum of money, the FSB said, accusing Fogle of being a CIA spy.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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