UzReport: New US Ambassador in Tashkent Reportedly Shelbie Legg, 30

by Laurence on 8/28/2005 · 8 comments

Can this report be true? Although UzReport cites it, such a move on the part of the administration would be very unusual, to say the least.

The Citrus Chronicle has a profile of the 1992 Citrus High School graduate and a Seminole (Florida State University alumna) that says she is the new American ambassador to Tashkent. Yet, there was no notice on the State Department or Tashkent Embassy website.

So, I’m sure one of our readers will soon set us straight on this…UPDATE: Bertrand has indeed set us straight, in Comment #3…

In any case, since the UzReport site brought it up, we googled Legg and found the following: According to the Citrus, Legg is a lawyer as well as a scholar of Russian literature and society. In 1998, she presented a paper at Indiana University titled: “The Image of the Caucasian in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time.”

According to her FSU Master’s thesis on the role of court interpreters in immigration proceedings, Legg was Assistant General Counsel with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as recently as 2002. Legg’s legal specialty was Florida water law, including the Florida Safe Drinking Water Act. She is said to be fluent in Russian and Spanish, and married to Vassily Barybov. Reportedly, her mother is schoolteacher and her father a pediatrician.

If she really has been named to the post (a big if, at this point) Legg’s relative youth and lack of diplomatic experience would signify that Uzbekistan has been downgraded by the administration, so that future policy decisions might be made in Washington, rather than Tashkent. On the other hand, as an environmental and immigration lawyer, Legg seems qualified to deal with allegations of corruption relating to the distribution of US visas (a serious problem that resulted in an internal State Department investigation of the consular section in 2003) as well as fighting Uzbekistan’s claims for environmental damage at Karshi-Khanabad (K2).

From Legg’s ICQ listing, Legg seems like a sympathetic person who is genuinely interested in Uzbekistan:

“i love music, especially uzbek, spanish and russian rock. i travel alot and would love to talk with anyone from uzbekistan or russia!”

As a young diplomat who appears to be familiar with the internet (also a member of RusForum), Ambassador Legg’s appointment–if it happens– might also be helpful to the development of new communication and information technology in Central Asia.

On the other hand, maybe The Citrus made a mistake?

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david_walther August 28, 2005 at 9:48 am

This seems totally bent. A search at the State Department web site turns up nothing for Shelby Legg, I can’t see indication anywhere that she has ever worked for the State Department.

I mean, sure, it’s possible… but wow! Sending a 30 year old with no diplomatic experience (cross reference this with the gray-haired John Purnell’s resume) to one of the world’s hot spots? She is from Florida though, maybe the Bush’s owed her a favor?

And why would Uzbekistan learn about the appointment of their new ambassador through a small Florida newspaper? This is really interesting, anybody with additional information please contribute.

Amanda August 28, 2005 at 11:35 am

Because Moscow learns of outbreaks of tularemia from U.S. websites. MosNews reported that the U.S. report blamed the outbreaks on poorly-contained biological weapons facilities.

The website publishing the report that MosNews drew from is a Phoenix-area free-for-all news site.

Bertrand August 29, 2005 at 6:37 am

In the immortal words of Emily Litella, “Never Mind!”

The announcement of the “new” U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan caused a fair bit of confusion, finally resulting in the Embassy sending out a wide-distribution announcement that the story was not true. That message is now being circulated all over the place.

As it turns out, the redoubtable Ms. Legg will indeed be working for the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan – as a junior employee in the consular office. I think I feel sorry for her, assuming she has no complicity in this story. I would hate to begin a new embassy job (anywhere), having been the subject of an official denial, state-sponsored media coverage, wild rumours in the host country, etc.

It’s hard to know how all this came together, but my guess it is the probable result of a starry-eyed mother and a wet-behind-the-ears, half-bright and not-too-experienced reporter at a very small newspaper with somnambulant editors.

The message the Embassy in Tashkent sent out said the real Ambassador – Jon Purnell – had just returned from vacation. This doesn’t appear to be a “recess appointment,” so one also assumes he doesn’t intend to share his office with Ms. Legg.

david_walther August 29, 2005 at 12:28 pm


Thanks for contributing, I found the Warden message in my inbox today as well. This is pretty hilarious… I almost called the embassy today to ask them, but it all seemed so silly that I was embarassed to do it. Just as well to have waited!

I wonder what they wrote to the Citrus County news???

Stygius August 29, 2005 at 8:01 pm

This is just priceless. The dimwit reporter probably was told ‘…was appointed to the embassy,’ and hear ‘…was apppointed ambassador.’

Floridian September 7, 2005 at 8:21 pm

Hello, I stumbled across this website Googling her name after someone in my old home town told me about it – check my IP address, you can see I’m posting from Florida.

I went to school with Shelbie.

As I haven’t talked to her in at least two years, I do not know what capacity her job is, as you said, she was likely misrepresented in the paper. Until I found this webpage, I thought it was true myself.

However, she is EXTREMELY intelligent regarding world affairs. She speaks 100 percent fluent Russian as far as I know, among other things.

She has had a long standing love of Russia and surrounding countries and cultures, and as you know, married a Russian man.

I would NOT call her your typical 30 year old. She is a true intellectual and well above average intelligence.

On an unrelated note, I see you linked to an article about her father who was arrested.

He is not the kind of person who would have done that on purpose.

He is somewhat absentminded, which likely lead to the billing mistake, but would never steal money from such a program.

He is very well regarded in the community, and, in my personal experience, is very willing to help those in need at no cost, not steal money from them.

Not to mention a paltry $130,000 wouldn’t even be much money to a pediatrician.

Back on subject, my family who still lives in the area never mentioned a retraction in the Citrus County Chronicle – – known to make mistakes.

Floridian September 7, 2005 at 8:24 pm

After Googling more a few minutes later, it was revealed they indeed did correct it later:

Floridian September 7, 2005 at 8:32 pm

For the record, also, that is her stepfather. I myself accidentally referred to him as her father.

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