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21 Mar, 2024 21:39

Washington lives in denial over Putin’s victory while gaming its own elections

US rulers decry the lack of choices for Russian voters, even as they try to take down America’s most popular 2024 candidate
Washington lives in denial over Putin’s victory while gaming its own elections

America’s legacy media and political ruling class have thrown a predictably massive hissy fit over last weekend’s Russian election, insisting that President Vladimir Putin’s landslide victory was “preordained” and “stage-managed.” 

Every protest and anti-Putin statement before, during, and after the election was amplified. Every allegation of misconduct was reported with zero scrutiny or skepticism. Washington and its allies decried the results, arguing that the vote wasn’t free or fair. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron went so far as to call it “illegal.” 

The pearl-clutching over Russia’s vote was the most intense I’ve ever seen over a foreign election. It was so inordinate, in fact, that it reminded me of the nonstop media coverage last month after Russian political activist Alexey Navalny died in a Siberian penal colony. The same media that showed no concern over the death of US journalist Gonzalo Lira in a Ukrainian jail – after he had been tortured, at American taxpayer expense, for daring to criticize the Kiev regime – huffed and puffed for weeks about the death of a Russian citizen in a Russian prison.

Lost in all the hysteria over Putin’s victory is the fact that most of the Russian people like their president. The incumbent won over 87% of the votes, and as even CNN begrudgingly acknowledged before the election, a poll last month showed that Putin had an 86% approval rating. That compares with a 9% approval rating for Navalny, the great Western hope for destabilizing Russia, in a January 2023 poll. And by the way, it also compares with US President Joe Biden’s approval rating of around 38%.

As US policy analyst Jeffrey Sachs explained in an interview this week with Russia-hating podcaster Piers Morgan, Putin’s popularity and reelection reflect the will of the Russian people. “It’s part of Russian culture,” said Sachs, who advised the Moscow and Kiev governments after the breakup of the Soviet Union. “He’s a strong leader. The Russian people expect a strong leader, and we have to deal with a strong leader in Russia.”

Therein lies the problem. Team America is unwilling to accept strong leadership of Russia with broad public support. Having failed to cripple Russia or its leadership through the proxy war in Ukraine, the US and its allies are in no mood to accept the political reality in Moscow. The political pouting was so bad in Berlin that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government refused to refer to Putin as Russia’s president. This is the same government that is mulling plans to ban one of Germany’s most popular opposition parties.

However, for all the Western criticism of Putin and his policies, it’s not easy to argue that he doesn’t try to represent the interests of the Russian people. Unlike most Western leaders, Putin is on the side of his own citizens. He hit the nail on the head when he said Western attacks were directed not at him, but at “the forces that stand behind me, which seek to strengthen Russia – to improve its sovereignty, defense, and economic independence.”

Shrugging off a landslide election as illegitimate is difficult enough. US rulers and their media mouthpieces are doing so with – as usual – a sociopathic lack of self-awareness. Even as Washington condemns the alleged suppression of political opposition in Russia, the Biden administration and its allies are using the court system to prosecute the incumbent’s chief rival, former President Donald Trump, as this year’s US presidential election approaches. By the way, Trump is leading Biden in most polls.

The US ruling class has shown no hesitance to put its thumb on the scale to help Biden and other establishment puppets. For example, just weeks before the 2020 election, over 50 former US intelligence officials helped contain the damage from a New York Post report on Biden family corruption by falsely claiming that it had the “classic earmarks” of Russian disinformation. Thanks partly to some preemptive nudging by the FBI, social media platforms censored commentary about the bombshell report, which stemmed from documents on a laptop abandoned by Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

America’s rich and powerful banded together to defeat Trump. As Time magazine bragged shortly after Biden took office, an “informal alliance of left-wing activists and business titans” helped change US voting systems and laws leading up to the 2020 election. Among other achievements, the magazine said, the alliance “got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time,” and “successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation.”

As we know, in the Western legacy media’s lexicon, ‘disinformation’ means ‘information that conflicts with our narratives’. The election manipulation in 2020 wasn’t new. A report released on Tuesday by the Media Research Center claimed that US search-engine monopoly Google has been helping Democratic candidates since 2008 by censoring pro-Republican voices. Google’s censorship and manipulation of search results shifted 2.6 million votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton in her failed run against Trump in 2016, according to an estimate by US researcher Robert Epstein. 

As usual in an election year, US officials are hyping potential security threats, including foreign interference. Biden and the establishment media outlets that work on his behalf are touting Trump as a danger to democracy. Ironically, these same voices are demonizing efforts to make elections more secure.

For instance, when Georgia lawmakers passed a bill requiring voters to show ID, the Biden administration sued the state. The administration also sued Arizona for requiring proof of US citizenship for voter registration. It turns out that requiring voters to prove their identity – just as would be required to get a job, board a flight, rent a dwelling, drive a car, open a bank account, receive public benefits, or buy a bottle of wine – is somehow a racist conspiracy to suppress Democrat votes. 

Washington wouldn’t be Washington without its blatant hypocrisy and absurdity. The same country that has refused to respect the will of the people in Crimea and Donbass violently defended the right of self-determination in Kosovo. Some of the same politicians and media voices that branded Trump as an insurrectionist for refusing to accept his 2020 defeat previously refused to accept Bad Orange Man’s 2016 victory.

Also, the same government that condemned Russia’s election as illegitimate has expressed no concern that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky refuses to hold an election at all. Somehow, defending ‘freedom and democracy’ – in a country that has neither freedom nor democracy – does not entail suggesting that the citizens should be allowed to vote.

What really made Washington angry was that residents of formerly Ukrainian territories were allowed to vote in the Russian election. The US and dozens of its allies issued a statement on Monday decrying Moscow’s “illegitimate attempts” to organize voting in “temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.” Residents of those same areas previously voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, but then again, from Washington’s point of view, the democratically expressed will of the people isn’t always an acceptable feature of democracy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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