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Newsline: Russian Embassy in US Slams State Department Over Meddling in Domestic Election

The Russian Embassy in Washington accused the US State Department of interfering in Russian home affairs over claims that the upcoming presidential voting would not be transparent. “[State Dept] is showing another example of interference in our internal affairs. Now with fake news. Bad attempt to damage Russian democracy. Will not work. Full transparency of Presidential elections guaranteed,” the Embassy tweeted in response. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert tweeted Friday that the Russian Central Election Commission had allegedly denied observer status to 5,000 independents, in what she said was a proof that Kremlin authorities “fear transparency.” Russians go to the polls Sunday, March 18, to elect a new president. Incumbent Vladimir Putin is running as an independent.



Newsline: South Sudan Embassy Worker in US Says Went Unpaid for a Year

An employee of South Sudan’s embassy in Washington says the embassy owes him more than a year’s back salary — another indication of mounting financial problems for the war-ravaged country’s government. In January, South Sudan closed its embassy in London after not paying rent on the building for five months. There is no sign South Sudan’s embassy in Washington will go the same route, but its driver, Manyok Lual, suggests the embassy is having cash flow problems. In an interview with VOA’s South Sudan in Focus, Lual, 44, said employees of the embassy went a year without getting paid until this month, when diplomats received two months of salary arrears and local employees like himself received one month. “They say we don’t have money in the country, the country is at war now … and just hang on, when we get the money, we will pay you. And it is quite a long time without getting paid,” Lual said. Multiple sources at the embassy say the country has been paying its rent, but sometimes delays its payments by three to five days.


Newsline: Here’s What That ‘Strange’ US Helicopter Was Doing Over Russia’s US Embassy

The mysterious chopper that flew over the Russian Embassy in Washington with its searchlight on last week appeared to be a law enforcement helicopter on a mission, a source from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation told Sputnik. “It was a law enforcement helicopter, operating with the knowledge of the Air traffic control services. It was flying over that area by order: they were either looking for someone or responded to a call,” the source said. Last week, the Washington police offered a potential explanation, saying that one of its helicopters was dispatched to an area north of the Russian Embassy in response to a possible gun robbery, The Washington Post reported. On March 13, the Russian Embassy in the US tweeted an image of an enigmatic chopper detected over its diplomatic premises which looked like a UFO. Russian diplomats turned it into a joke, alluding to the Kremlin-Trump collusion and the “Russian meddling” conspiracy theory and pointing out the absurdity of the accusations.



Newsline: New Zealand diplomat under fire for US politics tweets

A high-ranking Kiwi diplomat is in hot water after telling the US Democratic Party to “get your shit together or we will all die”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed it is taking “appropriate action” against Caroline Beresford, New Zealand’s deputy head of mission to the United States, following her now-deleted posts on Twitter. In response to a tweet by US politics website The Hill, outlining the potential of a Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren presidential ticket to take on Trump at the 2020 election, Beresford took issue with a suggestion that the pair could “win big”. “No it couldn’t. Please get your shit together or we will all die,” she said, in what appears to be a reference to concerns about the administration of current US President and Republican Donald Trump. In other tweets, also deleted later, Beresford said Democrats had “learned nothing”, and added: “If this is what they have against Trump we should be planning for the eight years.”



Newsline: Trump ousts US top diplomat, will replace Tillerson as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo

President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.



Newsline: Russian embassy mocks claims of collusion between Kremlin and Trump campaign

The Russian embassy in Washington mocked the idea of collusion between the Kremlin and President Trump during the 2016 campaign in a series of tweets Monday. “All ‘Russia investigations’ (not only in the US) are destined to end as @ConawayTX11 brilliantly concluded: ‘only Tom Clancy could take this series of inadvertent contacts, meetings, whatever, and weave that into some sort of a spy thriller that could go out there,’” the embassy’s Twitter account posted Monday evening. Later, the embassy mocked the U.S. government for a helicopter that was flying in the neighborhood of its Washington embassy Sunday night. “What was American helicopter searching for at the Russian Embassy’s premises yesterday night? ‘Strange’ malfunction of navigation equipment in the center of the US capital? Or another desperate attempt to find traces of #RussianMeddling?” the embassy tweeted. The tweets come hours after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a preliminary report indicating they found no collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The GOP lawmakers also disagreed with the intelligence community’s assertion that the Russian government developed a preference for Trump during their meddling in the 2016 election.



Newsline: Top US diplomat in Latin America leaves in protest, swelling an exodus

In a farewell video, the U.S. ambassador to Panama, John Feeley, filmed a scene at a tin-roofed barbershop that sits in a graffiti-tagged neighborhood here under a clattering elevated highway. This was Feeley’s barbershop, a place he visited regularly despite his Panamanian driver’s insisting he should not. “I’ve been coming here for months,” Feeley said in another video last year. “I’m very loyal.” But now, Feeley is leaving Latin America and the State Department after quitting in protest two months ago. Feeley, 56, flew home from Panama on Friday, capping almost three decades as a diplomat under Republican and Democratic administrations. In the past year, he said, he realized he was working for a president whose policies and tone he could no longer promote or even explain. The diplomatic corps with experience in the Americas has been particularly hard hit by all the departures. The State Department’s third-highest-ranking official, Thomas Shannon, who helped shift the U.S. focus in Latin America away from small Cold War battlegrounds toward the region’s big economies, announced his retirement last month. William Brownfield, a former ambassador to Colombia, Venezuela and Chile, stepped down last year, as did his wife, Kristie Kenney, also a three-time ambassador, once in Ecuador. All of them are or were career Foreign Service officers, not political appointees.