Former US ambassador to Russia and ardent Kremlin critic, Michael McFaul, has shared with his 25,000 Facebook followers a call to kill Russian state officials. The repost has since been deleted.
McFaul, who served as America's Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, shared a post from the "Russian Regions" anti-government group, which have called for mass protests against the Kremlin, using Iran as an example.
“300,000 Iranians are marching to lynch local Chekists [intelligence officers] – and what have you done for Russia?” the message by online user Yana Sizikova said in Russian, along with video footage of a massive crowd of protesters. The word Chekists derives from Cheka, which was the Soviet domestic intelligence service from 1917 to 1922.
#Obama frm ambassador to #Russia reposting not just your regular incitement of violence but an actual call to murder state employees. Translation: 300,000 Iranians are heading to hang local security forces and what have u done for Russia pic.twitter.com/KkOk3Go9ZQ
— Oksana Boyko (@OksanaBoyko_RT) January 1, 2018
Users were quick to point out that the video in the post was not from Iran, but from the 2011 Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain. The Bahraini flags are clearly visible in the video.
في فبراير ٢٠١١ خرج اكثر من ٣٠٠ الف مواطن من سكان البحرين حاملين إعلام #البحرين ومطالبين بحقوقهم فتم تخوينهم و وصفهم با احقر الألفاظ و وقفت جميع أنظمة الخليج ضدهم
— BAHRAINDOCTOR (@BAHRAINDOCTOR) December 31, 2017
This was the only problem McFaul saw with the original post. Embarrassed at having soiled his hands with fake news, he deleted his repost and apologized for having shared something “mislabeled by someone else.”
He felt no need to apologize for the way the post incited Russians to kill their own state employees, though.
The year-old "Russian Regions" anti-government group, which McFaul so generously promoted, is never shy of agitating for revolution in Russia. It has been using the protests in Iran to illustrate those calls ever since they erupted on December 28. The group's questionable newsfeed over the developments in Iran forced Twitter to suspend the "Russian Regions" account – which Sizikova immediately blamed on "Putin's agents" in Twitter's employ.
Sizikova's own page links to an anti-government website, apparently started in 2017, as Russia prepares for the 2018 presidential election. Oh, and also to an Instagram page with pictures of semi-nude women.