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US Ambassador to Cyprus relieved of duty after tweeting that Cypriot President Anastasiades was linked to Nemtsov murder and implying Putin was behind the killing

The American Ambassador to Cyprus, John Koenig, has been promptly ‘relieved of duty’ after he posted on his Twitter account what was essentially a clever ploy to link Cyprus President Anastasiades (who recently visited Moscow) to the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.

Bonehead move…oh yeah!

But considering that John Kerry, America’s top diplomat, almost bombed Syria over a fake Youtube video, and sanctions have been placed on Russia over tweets that say Putin has invaded Ukraine…I guess Ambassador Koenig’s social media mishap is tiny in the grand scheme of American propaganda goofs.

Nonetheless it was still a bonehead thing to tweet about.

In the twitter conversation, Ambassador Koenig even goes as far as accusing the Cypriot President of hanging out with ‘bad company’…in reference to Russia’s democratically elected and wildly popular President Vladimir Putin.

Koenig also tried to imply that Putin was the mastermind behind the Nemtsov murder by tweeting:

“I wouldn’t suggest Anastasiades is linked to Nemtsov assassination. Be real. But Putin could be.”

Of course Koenig is not a forensic expert, Moscow homicide detective, or even US Ambassador to Russia, but he still felt he needed to jump on the western media “Trash Russia” express train.

Koenig rightfully got skewered by folks on twitter who told the Ambassador to focus on the Cyprus problem and not an internal Russian murder investigation.

The Ambassador was likewise chastised for his complete lack of professionalism, and behaviour that is unbecoming of an Ambassador of the United States of America.

In a statement he issued on Monday, Koenig said “My question on Twitter, ‘What do people in #Cyprus think about the week in Russia as seen from here? Anastasiades visit and statements, #Nemtsov assassination?’ was misunderstood”.

The US Embassy has announced that another diplomat will be named to take the place of John Koenig, adding that Koenig`s term as US Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus is for three years and his departure in the Summer of 2015 has always been anticipated. Of course it has.

The Cyprus Mail reports…

His tweets, not the type expected from an ambassador, seemed calculated to provoke, although he denied this was his intention. But the truth is, regardless of his intentions, his comment did provoke because it was undiplomatic and out of order.

The original tweet said: “What do people in #Cyprus think about the week in Russia as seen from here? Anastasiades visit and statements, #Nemtsov assassination?” On Monday, Koenig said, “it is unfortunate that some suggested I linked the two issues,” and explained that he “simply wanted to get the reaction of the Cypriot people on two different issues.” This was not the most convincing response and the ambassador is smart enough to know that his tweet could have been interpreted in the way many of his followers had interpreted it.

And he persisted with the link in subsequent tweets: “Week was big 4 Cyprus-Russia, ended with killing of Nemtsov,” tagging on the snide remark, “The company you keep.” Was this remark not intended to “provoke or imply anything”, as he claimed yesterday? If it were not he would not have put the two issues together.

Whatever has happened to traditional diplomacy, of carefully-drafted documents being delivered to the foreign ministry of a country and ambassadors restricting their rarely-made public comments to non-controversial issues? And since when do ambassadors seek people’s reactions to events through social media? It is not as if Koenig’s followers on Twitter represented a cross-section of Cypriot society.

The reaction to the ambassador’s tweets was not restricted to his followers. Even Anastasiades [Cyprus President] felt obliged to make a public statement, pointing out that the American ambassador, instead of helping improve relations was continuously contributing towards the straining relations.

References:

http://cyprus-mail.com/2015/03/03/our-view-regardless-of-intentions-ambassadors-tweets-were-provocative/

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