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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Papers Say Russia Is Better Off With Bush

MTA view of how major Russian newspapers covered U.S. President George W. Bush's re-election victory in their Thursday issues.
Most Russian newspapers declared Russia better off with a re-elected U.S. President George W. Bush and turned to horseradish, idiots and President Vladimir Putin's friendship with Bush to argue their points.

"It's in the Hat" read the headline next to a picture of Bush adjusting a cowboy hat in the popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"Bush's victory is beneficial for Russia," Alexander Livshits, Putin's former economic adviser, wrote in a commentary next to the article. "We know him, we know members of his team. We are used to them, and they are used to us.

"Furthermore, George Bush's administration does not tell us how to live. It does not interfere much with our country's domestic affairs. And the personal relationship that our two presidents have established is also important."

Moskovsky Komsomolets did take the opportunity to offer a comment on U.S. domestic affairs. "The 2004 elections showed that a party that comes out in favor of abortions and supports the demands of gays for legal marriages and demands of the scientific community to allow stem-cell research on human embryos cannot currently govern the United States," it editorialized.

Izvestia said Washington is likely to adopt a tougher approach to Moscow over the next four years, but this would have happened regardless of who had won Tuesday's presidential election.

"Nonetheless, the Kremlin prefers the Republicans," Izvestia wrote. "Under them, the tougher approach will be less significant. This is due mainly to the personal relationship between Bush and Putin.

"The Democrats would have criticized Russia much more severely for rolling back reforms, for cracking down on freedom of speech, for Khodorkovsky and for Chechnya."

Putin called Bush on Thursday to congratulate him on his victory. The Kremlin said the two discussed future contacts, including summit meetings together.

Izvestia needled Putin for openly supporting Bush's re-election during the campaign, comparing it to the Kremlin's backing of Abkhaz presidential candidate Raul Khadzhimba, who failed to win the Georgian region's Oct. 3 election and is now disputing the vote results.

"Unlike elections on post-Soviet territory, this time the Kremlin bet on the real favorite, not the fake one," Izvestia said.

Gazeta devoted three pages to the U.S. election and published results of an ironic readers' poll in which respondents answered the question, "Were the votes in America counted fairly?"

Thirty-six percent said vote counters "counted like they wanted to"; 27 percent said "they counted with their minds"; 14 percent said "Veshnyakov helped," referring to Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov, who traveled to the United States to observe the vote; 12 percent said "the truth will never be discovered"; and 9 percent said "they counted with their hearts."

Military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda was also pleased with Bush's victory, citing the U.S. president's hesitance to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs.

U.S.-Russian relations "are more pragmatic and stable under Republican control," it said. "This is primarily due to the Republican Party's political style, which focuses its efforts on business relationships and is distracted by the domestic problems of its allies and partners."

Politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows, and Komsomolskaya Pravda published a quote from prominent human rights activist and harsh Putin critic Valeria Novodvorskaya in which she backed Putin's pick.

Asked who she supported in the election, she said: "The Republicans. They don't give anyone money for nothing and tend to act decisively to defend freedom, and not only at home. Bush rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and Iraq of [Saddam] Hussein and promised to deal with Cuba. And Kerry showed pure demagogy."

Liberal daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta, owned by Boris Berezovsky, the Putin critic and wealthy businessman who lives in asylum in Britain, offered a markedly different assessment of the U.S. election.

"Bush's victory in America is unlikely to be a 'big present' for Russia," international affairs analyst Alexander Bogaturov wrote. "First, the Americans gave him a new mandate for conducting foreign policy from a position of power, which was good for us while it was not aimed against us. Now it is completely impossible to know where the U.S. president's focus will be with his burning desire to reorganize the globe according to his own understanding of good and evil."

Bogaturov said Bush's victory could have negative ramifications on liberalism in Russia. "Most importantly, the victorious atmosphere of militant Republicanism that rules America, given our psychological dependence on America (although we try not to admit it), will inevitably induce new anti-liberal tendencies in our country."

Another Berezovsky-owned newspaper, Kommersant, editorialized less in its coverage Thursday and put its election story in the bottom corner of the front page. But it did use a play on words in its headline, which can be read as "America Didn't Drop the Fool" or "America Didn't Mess Around."

Sovietskaya Rossiya reminded readers that neither Bush nor his challenger, John Kerry, were good for Russia, writing that "horseradish is no sweeter than a radish."

The communist-nationalist newspaper said the United States "has one policy: America Uber Alles!"

Nonetheless, Sovietskaya Rossiya said Bush was the lesser of two evils.

"The soft-spoken American Democrats are more dangerous for Russia than the rude Republicans," nationalist commentator Vyacheslav Tetekin wrote.

"As a rule, Democratic presidents try to strangle Russia with 'friendly' hugs. ... Republicans tend to unceremoniously demand that a Russian leader ... simply do something to defend their own interests."

Meanwhile, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said Thursday that Bush must find a way in his second term to address the anti-Americanism that Gorbachev said has spread around the world, Interfax reported.

"Anti-Americanism in the world is a certain fact now," Gorbachev said. "It has reached a huge scale, and I believe that ignoring it and acting unilaterally, without caring about anyone or anything, would not work as logical and serious politics."