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June 2, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8774

Russian Reactions To The Riots: Government Gloats, Commentators Assess Political Fallout On US Presidential Elections

June 2, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8774

Russia's political establishment drew satisfaction at seeing American pretensions to lecture others on human rights punctured by the killing of George Floyd and the massive demonstrations that it triggered. This satisfaction was somewhat tempered by the knowledge that liberal voices in the United States, for example George Soros, were not Russia's friends and some commentators even endorsed the theory that the Democrats had instigated and were trying to capitalize on the riots. Russia's wariness about the Democrats was also reflected in the quick reaction to remarks by Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, that insinuated that Russia had a hand in the riots. Russian press commentary also speculated on how the disorders would impact on the November 2020 presidential elections in the United States. Below is a survey of Russian reactions to the events in the United States:


Demonstrator confronts policemen (Source: Vesti.ru)

Government Outlets: The US Is Getting A Taste Of Its Maidan Medicine

Russian officials, surrogates and state-controlled outlets expressed satisfaction at America's discomfiture and the discomfiture of Russian liberals, who disdained their government and looked up to the US. Senator Alexey Pushkov tweeted: The US is starting to crumble. This is visible in Syria and Afghanistan, in the disaster with Covid-19 within the USA itself, in the [US'] inability to help its European allies at the peak of the pandemic, in the hysterical but sketchy accusations against China, in the racial rebellion, in the internal schism. The US has entered an era of turmoil.[1]


Alexey Pushkov (Source: Mk.ru)

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova  in a televised appearance claimed she was not gloating over the "terrifying and unimaginable" images an felt compassion for a nation "that is torn apart by such terrible contradictions." However, the events had revealed American hypocrisy on the human rights issue:

"This national tragedy revealed something, what they [Americans] probably did not want to talk about or listen to, but on what they eagerly lectured the whole world. Namely [I’m talking] about a tragedy in the 'human rights' sphere, in the very field that Americans always considered to be resolved and problem-free for the US. The leadership in the human rights sphere, which they arrogated to themselves, turned out to be no leadership at all.

"It was now clear why the United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2018. “Apparently, they understood what was happening inside their own state, and left the Human Rights Council. And now this 'abscess' has burst."[2]

TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev, a major regime surrogate, posted on his Telegram channel: “So, the United States has not yet found the 'hand of Moscow' in the riots? What are they waiting for...And why are all our opposition members silent? [I guess] the US manual [on the issue] is delayed, and they are not accustomed to using their own brains.

How is the [US] State Department doing? Have they already demanded to release all those detained by the police, and not to interfere with the will of the people? Has the [economic stimulus] 'Helicopter money' helped? Judging by the joy with which shops are being looted, people don’t feel prosperous…  Maybe the United States made a mistake in choosing the way to combat the coronavirus… The old recipe: racism and police lawlessness. 'Black Lives Matter' has turned into 'I Can't Breathe.'"[3]

The Russian service of Russia Today (RT), the government-controlled outlet referred to the events as an American "Maidan". Maidan was the central square in Kiev where pro-Western demonstrators brought down the Kremlin-friendly government of Alexander Yanukovich. Putin has seen the US as the prime instigato. Now America was seeing how it felt

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said: "In almost any other country, such a Maidan, as is now occurring in the States, would very quickly lead to regime change. But in America it will not do so. Because America does not have a second America that would aid this Maidan. And over the past many years I can’t recall a single regime change that could have been accomplished without active American help."[4]

Military correspondent Semyon Pegov amplified the Maidan theme in an opinion column for RT: "It would seem that the ideals by which the protesting Americans are driven are far from the worldview of Ukrainian radicals, but in this case, it does not really matter. In an ideological sense, the Americans received a 'Maidan in reverse', but, I repeat, this is not that important. The chaos factor itself is important, which is the fundamental active force in such events. I will expand this thought.

"Over the past few decades (30, maybe 40 years), the United States has adhered to a 'controlled chaos' strategy, which it actively spread to state entities that broke away as a result of the USSR's collapse, and then to dozens of other countries of Eastern Europe (and with the beginning of the “Arab Spring” ”This American trend from the 1990s again found broad application in Egypt, Libya, Syria and other countries of the region). So, that in adhering to the strategy of 'controlled chaos', the States, unexpectedly for all, were themselves engulfed by it. The only question is how much it is controlled and by whom…

"But along with sympathy for those who suffer from American chaos, I am grateful for these protests, inter alia for their wonderful lesson. [They provide] an illustrative lesson for those who considered and still consider Russia to be a police state. Those who compare the actions of the Russian National Guard at the [opposition] demonstrations almost to a massacre by African dictators. Against the background of how the American security forces work and disperse the protests, our Russian riot police seem like good boys with impeccable education received in high-school school. It suffices to track on which day of the rally the first shots were fired (no matter what weapon), and then recall what our Russian national guardsmen, who are sent to disperse unauthorized processions are usually armed with."[5]


Semyon Pegov (Source: Gazeta.ru)

The Maidan parallel was also invoked by Vladimir Vasiliev, the chief researcher at the US and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in an interview with Izvestia.[6] on Monday, June 1. However, Vasiliev believes that the riots do not spring from economic malaise but are directly related to the American elections.

He believes that a true threat exists that the party that loses these elections will refuse to recognize the results and then either the Democrats or the Republicans will appeal to the masses and try to settle the issue in the streets:

"The Americans have rolled out this concept many times for other countries. When people in these countries were dissatisfied with the election results, 'color revolutions' took place there, the masses came out, demanding that the results should not be recognized and should be altered. I think this technology - the organization of the All-American Maidan - is being fully developed in order to influence the election results in the right direction if they do not suit the Democratic Party" observed Vasiliev.

He believed that the protest rallies were coordinated and organized by the leadership of the Democratic Party's National Committee.  To support this thesis, Vasiliev claimed that the riots occurred in electorally important states.

“The state of Minnesota is a pro-Democratic state with very progressive traditions in the struggle for the rights of the working class of workers. California, Texas, Washington. In the Republican states and cities, the situation is relatively calmer, they maintain order a bit better," concluded Vasiliev.

Journalist Fillipov:  In America, Black Lives Do Not Really Matter

Artyem Fillipov writing in vz.ru believes that the protests reflect the fact that there has been little progress in eradicating racism in the US:

"Despite all the efforts of the federal government, the expert community and activists, the years of reform and millions of dollars, police violence is still an urgent problem for the United States. The incident in Minneapolis has once again demonstrated that the practice of ill-treatment of blacks by the US law enforcement agencies has not yet been eliminated. The criminal justice system is in many ways a modern embodiment of racial terror. It seemed that such an attitude towards the Negro population remained in the distant past of American history. However, as it turns out, today the life of African-Americans in the USA still does not have much significance. Not surprisingly, mass protests of blacks are sweeping across the country."[7]

Researcher Blokhin: Unsolved Racial Problems And Depression-like Economic Conditions Behind Disturbances

According to Konstantin Blokhin, a leading researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Center for Security Studies, the United States is suffering from a racial problem caused by social stratification, which the American political establishment cannot solve. "Therefore, representatives of the US establishment are now trying to implicate Russia, although it was not the Russian police who killed George Floyd," Blokhin noted. He added that the current protests were fueled by the difficult economic situation and the rise in unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "The situation in the United States today is comparable to the Great Depression."[8]

Putin Spokesman Peskov Distinguishes Between Susan Rice, Who Blamed Russia For Instigating Riots And The Trump Administration That Did Not Do So

Another issue, already touched upon above by Vladimir Vasiliev was who stood behind the riots and who sought to gain from them. Russian officials were quick to push back against a May 31, 2020 interview by Susan Rice, who served as Obama's national security adviser accusing Russia of complicity in the violence.

Dr. Rice told CNN that Russia not only sought to disgrace the United States, but to pit Americans against each other: "We have peaceful protesters focused on the very real pain and disparities that we're all wrestling with that have to be addressed, and then we have extremists who've come to try to hijack those protests and turn them into something very different. And they're probably also, I would bet based on my experience, I'm not reading the intelligence these days, but based on my experience this is right out of the Russian playbook as well."[9]

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov responded: "Of course, we are very closely watching what is happening in the United States. But everything that happens there is an internal affair of this country…We have never interfered in American affairs and are not going to intervene now." Responding directly to Rice, Peskov said: "Any insinuations like the one you mentioned are, of course, completely wrong, erroneous. And, as far as we understand, such insinuations can in no way reflect the official point of view in Washington."[10]


Dmitry Peskov (Source: Tass.ru)

If Peskov was relatively diplomatic Zakharova slammed Rice on her Facebook account:

"Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice suggested in an interview (CNN) Sunday that the Russians could be behind the violent nationwide demonstrations following the in-custody death of George Floyd.

"I did not believe it until i saw the interview. And now I want to react.

"Dear Suzan (sic) Rice,

"Some time ago your party colleagues made a fatal mistake when they decided to blame absolutely everything that was not to their liking on Russia. Hillary Clinton and the Obama team convinced themselves and tried to convince the world that the domestic problems in the United States were created and encouraged by an external force: Russia.

"You are repeating this mistake today together with a CNN reporter, using dirty methods of information manipulation, such as fake news and absolutely no facts to prove your allegation. "Your interview with CNN is a perfect example of barefaced propaganda.
"I would like to remind you that the social media, which you believe are being used by Russian agents to fuel protests in American cities, were registered in the United States, belong to Americans and are regulated by American laws.

"Are you trying to play the Russia card again? You have been playing too long; please, come back to reality. Go out and face your people, look them in the eye and try telling them that they are being controlled by the Russians through YouTube and Facebook. And I will sit back and watch 'American exceptionalism' in action.

"Not Yours,
"Maria Zakharova, Russian MFA’s spokeswoman"[11]

If Zakharova was outraged at Rice's attempts to impute responsibility to Russia, some Russian commentators were not shy about accusing the Democrats of complicity. The popular Boiler Room Telegram channel commented:

"Inhabitants of African-American ghettos, Mexicans have always been the Democrats' strike force. The scandal with the murder of George Floyd by a white cop (who was photographed in a 'Trump cap') will certainly be used by the Democrats against Trump. The colored people along with the radical feminists were the strike force of the Democrats in the last US presidential election. The continuation of the riots, and widespread discussion of the tragic event on all television channels are in the interests of Trump's opponents.”[12]

The conservative Tsargrad.tv in an article titled "Bandits on the Pay of Soros Torch Minneapolis the Protesters Are Not Local reached the same conclusion and cited a tweet by conservative activist Candice Owens: "The Minneapolis chief of police just confirmed that many of the protesters that are burning down the city are NOT FROM MINNEAPOLIS. My guess: As he did with Antifa, Democrat George Soros has these thugs on payroll. He is funding the chaos via his Open Society Foundation." [13]

Russian Commentators: The Disorders Will Not Necessarily Hurt Donald Trump's Electoral Prospects

Russian commentators believed that the disorders did not doom Donald Trump in November

Tass Article: The Riots Will Frighten The Political Center Into Voting For Trump

TASS conducted an interview with Andrei Korobkov, a professor of political science at the Middle Tennessee State University. Korobkov, a graduate of Moscow State University has maintained his ties with pro-Kremlin think tanks. Korobkov believes that the riots will push the Democratic Party further to the left and this will benefit Trump.

"All this leads to the strengthening of ultra-leftist groups within the Democratic Party and in general on the left flank,". These political forces Korobkov, used the protests from their very outset to attack the Trump administration. According to Korobkov, the Democrats, in particular, are disappointed that the coronavirus pandemic did not produce the effect they were counting on. "It did not lead to a catastrophic drop in Trump's ratings," the professor said.

At the same time, Korobkov predicted that riots and protests, while strengthening the left wing of the Democrats, will at the same time weaken the general position of that party in the long run. "Because, of course, the political center is always scared when outbreaks of violence occur, when it becomes really dangerous for itself." As a result, Biden’s position in the November elections will be somewhat weakened, while Trump will get stronger. [14]


Andrei Korobkov (Source Valdai.com)

Russian Think Tank Director Kortunov: Riots Will Not Decide The Presidential Race

Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, commented on the riots in the United States:

“The outbursts of violence indicate the existence of a very deep [social] split in the United States. The situation is tense. Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November, this tension is likely to remain.”

According to Kortunov, the riots will not affect the final result of the presidential race. In the current situation, Trump will appeal to the blacks not as an ethnic group, but “to that category of blacks that can be considered to be traditional middle class…But It is hard to say yet how convincing this tactic will be, because the middle class has a choice: to return to jobs (this is what Trump wants), or to continue receiving social aid, which are guaranteed by the Democrats…The Democrats have long and consistently worked on the minorities. They lost their traditional working class electoral base to the Republicans, but the minorities are still voting for them. It is unlikely that Trump will be able to grab African-American votes, by focusing on ethnicity]. His strategy is to contrast ethnicity with all-American patriotism." [15]


Andrei Kortunov (Source: Iz.ru)

Alexei Fenenko, assistant professor of international security at Moscow State University’s faculty of world politics also believes the riots will not be a factor in the election.

"Trump initially relies on the white states of the Midwest; he does not bet on states in which color minorities predominate. Therefore, just the opposite, the fact that Trump applies toughness can greatly increase his rating in the states he relies on."[16]

 

[1] Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, June 1, 2020.

[2] Tass.ru, May 30, 2020.

[3] T.me/SolovievLive, May 30, 2020.

[4] Vz.ru, May 31, 2020.

[5] Russian.rt.com, May 31, 2020.

[6] Iz.ru, June 1, 2020.

[7] Vz.ru, May 28, 2020.

[8]  Russian.rt.com, June 1, 2020.

[9] Cnn.com, May 31, 2020.

[10] Tass.ru, June 1, 2020.

[11] Facebook.com/maria.zakharova.167, June 1, 2020.

[12] T.me/boilerroomchannel/7001, May 29, 2020.

[13] Tsargrad.tv, May 29, 2020.

[14] Tass.ru, June 1, 2020.

[15] Vz.ru, May 29, 2020.

[16] Ria.ru, June 1, 2020.

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