Eight new ambassadors will on Wednesday present their credentials to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The ambassadors of the United States, South Korea, Switzerland, Lithuania, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Indonesia and Panama are expected to attend the solemn ceremony that will traditionally be held in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul at first received a cold welcome in Russia: a report on Russian state-run television in January said he was seeking to provoke revolution in the country amid rising public discontent with alleged vote rigging during December’s parliamentary elections. Camera crews filmed opposition figures arriving at the U.S. embassy to “receive instructions” from McFaul.
The opposition figures’ visit irked the Kremlin, but McFaul then sought to allay the Russian authorities’ and public’s concerns, denying any U.S. involvement in opposition rallies in Russia. He also said his priority was to improve Moscow-Washington relations.
Medvedev, who had informally agreed McFaul’s candidacy with U.S. President Barack Obama, warned McFaul in late January that he should understand he is working in Russia, not in the United States, without further comments.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin-led United Russia party won the December 4, 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia but critics claimed the vote had been skewed in favor of United Russia. The authorities admitted that minor violations had occurred during the vote, but denied claims that the irregularities affected the vote’s results.
Vote rigging allegations led to the largest anti-government protests for almost two decades in Russia, with demonstrators demanding a rerun and the dismissal of election chief Vladimir Churov. Opposition activists are often accused of being funded from abroad, in particular, the United States.