Russian attacks on the U.S. government reached a new low recently when an unidentified pro-government cohort launched an Internet smear campaign meant to paint the incoming U.S. ambassador as a murderous pedophile.
The target of these attacks is Michael McFaul, who was recently appointed by the Obama administration as the new U.S. ambassador to Russia. McFaul played a principal role in crafting the administration’s so-called Russian "reset," a policy meant to ease tensions between Moscow and Washington.
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It doesn’t seem to be working.
Earlier this month, an unknown group of flaks likely associated with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unleashed a web campaign that draws comparisons between McFaul and a notorious rapist.
In one video that purports to be a man-on-the-street-style news package, bystanders are asked to review a photo comparison of McFaul and Pedro Alonso Lopez, a maniacal pedophile the Guinness Book of World Records has listed as the world’s most prolific serial killer.
The video begins with flashes of Lopez’s mutilated victims.
Pedestrians are asked if they can tell the difference between McFaul and Lopes:
Questioner: "Who of these two do you think is the pedophile?"
Pedestrian: "I think it's that one." (Points to McFaul)
In another exchange, the anonymous questioner asks, "Which of these is a pedophile?"
The response: "The American ambassador!"
A second video utilizes the same tactic, apparently travelling around the globe to ask people if they can tell the difference between McFaul and the pedophile.
"From childhood, priests teach Europeans how to discern what a pedophile looks like," the video states in its opening credits, according to a translation.
Though their exact origin is unclear, the videos could have been created by the members of pro-Putin youth groups, or by the anti-American All-Russia People’s Front, a social movement backed by Putin.
The Washington Post recently speculated that the video could even be a product of the successor to the Russian KGB, the FSB.
"The anti-American campaign bears trademark Soviet and KGB thinking, reflecting the mindset of many of the high-level officials appointed by Putin as well as their efforts to protect their power and privileges from the gathering opposition," the newspaper wrote last week.
McFaul recently drew the ire of Putin and his allies after holding a meeting with the Russian opposition upon his arrival in Moscow, and some speculate that the video campaign could be a reprisal.