Rus­sian TV shows Krem­lin view of Clin­ton

Lesotho Times - - International -

MOSCOW — To un­der­stand what the Krem­lin thinks about the prospect of Hil­lary Clin­ton be­com­ing the US pres­i­dent, it was enough to watch Rus­sian state tele­vi­sion cov­er­age of her ac­cept­ing the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion.

View­ers were told that Clin­ton sees Rus­sia as an en­emy and can­not be trusted, while the Demo­cratic Party con­ven­tion was por­trayed as fur­ther proof that Amer­i­can democ­racy is a her ac­cep­tance speech, Clin­ton reaf­firmed a com­mit­ment to NATO, say­ing she was “proud to stand by our al­lies in NATO against any threat they face, in­clud­ing from Rus­sia.”

In do­ing so, she was im­plic­itly re­buk­ing her ri­val, Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump, who has ques­tioned the need for the Western al­liance and sug­gested that if he is elected pres­i­dent, the United States might not honor its NATO mil­i­tary com­mit­ments, in par­tic­u­lar re­gard­ing for­mer Soviet re­publics in the Baltics.

While Trump’s po­si­tion on NATO has de­lighted the Krem­lin, Clin­ton’s state­ment clearly stung.

“She men­tioned Rus­sia only once, but it was enough to see that the era of the re­set is over,” Chan­nel One said in its re­port.

As US sec­re­tary of state, Clin­ton in 2009 pre­sented her Rus­sian coun­ter­part with a red but­ton in­tended to sym­bol­ize a “re­set” in re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries, one of US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ini­tia­tives.

In Rus­sia, the ges­ture is best re­mem­bered for the mis­spelling of the word in Rus­sian, while the re­set it­self failed in the face of Putin’s re­turn as Rus­sian pres­i­dent in 2012 and Rus­sia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine two years later.

Clin­ton once com­pared the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea to Adolf Hitler’s moves into Eastern Europe at the start of World War II, a com­par­i­son that was deeply of­fen­sive in Rus­sia, where the coun­try’s victory over Nazi Ger­many re­mains a prime source of na­tional pride.

Trump, on the other hand, told ABC’S “This Week” in a broad­cast Sun­day that he wants to take a look at whether the US should rec­og­nize Crimea as part of Rus­sia. “You know, the peo­ple of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Rus­sia than where they were,” Trump said.

This runs counter to the po­si­tion of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Euro­pean Union, which have im­posed pun­ish­ing sanc­tions on Rus­sia in re­sponse to the an­nex­a­tion.

“And as far as the Ukraine is con­cerned, it’s a mess. And that’s un­der the Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion with his strong ties to NATO. So with all of these strong ties to NATO, Ukraine is a mess,” Trump said. “Crimea has been taken. Don’t blame Don­ald Trump for that.”

Putin was out­raged by US sup­port for Ukraine and by US mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion around the world, par­tic­u­larly in Libya, on Clin­ton’s watch. But it was what he saw as in­ter­fer­ence in Rus­sia that re­ally ran­kled.

When Clin­ton de­scribed Rus­sia’s 2011 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions as rigged, Putin said she was “send­ing a sig­nal” to his crit­ics. He then ac­cused the US State Depart­ment of fi­nan­cially sup­port­ing the protests that drew tens of thou­sands of peo­ple to the streets of Moscow to de­mand free elec­tions and an end to Putin’s rule.

In the years since, the Krem­lin has de­fended Rus­sian elec­tions in part by im­ply­ing they are no dif­fer­ent than in the United States, a coun­try it says pro­motes democ­racy around the world while al­low­ing its busi­ness and political elite to de­ter­mine who wins at home.

The Demo­cratic Con­ven­tion, which ended Fri­day morn­ing Moscow time, was given wide cov­er­age through­out the day on the nearly hourly news re­ports on state tele­vi­sion, the Krem­lin’s most pow­er­ful tool for shap­ing pub­lic opin­ion.

Chan­nel One be­gan its re­port by in­tro­duc­ing Clin­ton as “a politi­cian who puts her­self above the law, who is ready to win at any cost and who is ready to change her prin­ci­ples de­pend­ing on the political sit­u­a­tion.” The an­chor­woman couched the de­scrip­tion by say­ing that was how Clin­ton is seen by Trump’s sup­port­ers — but it was a nu­ance view­ers could eas­ily miss.

The re­ports ran ex­cerpts of Clin­ton’s speech, but the cam­era swung re­peat­edly to a sullen Sen. Bernie San­ders of Ver­mont, her Demo­cratic chal­lenger, and his dis­ap­pointed sup­port­ers.

The Ros­siya chan­nel also showed anti-clin­ton pro­test­ers out­side the con­ven­tion hall who it said “felt they have been be­trayed af­ter the email leak that showed Bernie San­ders was pushed out of the race.”

Rus­sia is a prime sus­pect in the hack­ing of Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee com­put­ers, which led to the re­lease of emails show­ing that party of­fi­cials fa­vored Clin­ton over San­ders for the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

The Krem­lin has de­nied in­ter­fer­ing in the US elec­tion. A colum­nist at Rus­sia’s best-sell­ing news­pa­per, how­ever, said it would have been a smart move.

“I would wel­come the Krem­lin help­ing those forces in the United States that stand for peace with Rus­sia and democ­racy in Amer­ica,” Is­rael Shamir wrote in Kom­so­mol­skaya Pravda.

Trump, mean­while, has en­cour­aged Rus­sia to seek and re­lease more than 30 000 other miss­ing emails deleted by Clin­ton.

Democrats ac­cused him of try­ing to get a for­eign ad­ver­sary to con­duct es­pi­onage that could af­fect this Novem­ber’s elec­tion, but Trump later said he was merely be­ing sar­cas­tic.

— AP

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin (left) meets then US Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton in this 2012 file pic­ture.

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