Break-ins, tire-slashing, email-hacking: U.S. diplomatic life in Putin’s Russia in 2014

Break-ins, tire-slashing, email-hacking: U.S. diplomatic life in Putin’s Russia in 2014

One American diplomat’s tires were slashed. Another’s personal email was hacked. Still others reported mysterious break-ins. …

Some of the alleged Russian actions seemed petty. In several instances, U.S. officials returned home to find their belongings had been moved or a window left open in the middle of winter. American diplomats have also been trailed more overtly by Russian security agents.

Others attempted to interfere with diplomatic work, like disrupting public meetings with Russian contacts. Uniformed guards provided by Russia to stand outside the embassy, ostensibly for protection, have harassed visitors and even employees trying to enter the building.

Russians who work or meet with the embassy have also been intimidated, U.S. officials said. Several had been warned by shadowy individuals to discontinue their contacts with American officials or face unspecified hardships. Russians authorities have also stepped up pressure on programs run by the U.S. embassy.

Earlier this month, a pair of American reporters conducting a journalism workshop in St. Petersburg, in cooperation with the embassy, were hauled to court for alleged visa violations even though they were able to run a similar program under the same type of visa on an earlier trip. …

In one notably flagrant episode, according to officials, [former U.S. Ambassador Michael] McFaul was stranded in the Russian Foreign Ministry parking lot after police stopped his driver for a minor infraction and revoked his driver’s license on the spot. …

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