The new US president was popular in Russia. Too popular. Now that he’s said Russia should return Crimea to Ukraine, the tide has turned - at least a little bit, says DW’s Juri Rescheto.
It was a landing that was overdue, this hard landing back in reality. Crimea is ne vasch - not yours. Excuse me? Who says so? Donald Trump? Well then, Trump is ne nasch - not ours. And from there it was all downhill for Russia's love affair with the new US president.
Rumors of a directive from "on high" suddenly started making the rounds. Directives to the central headquarters of Russian television broadcasters: Stop reporting so much about Trump!
It's about time. The US president had managed to usurp his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in terms of airtime by some 25 percent: 202,000 mentions of Trump compared to just 147,700 mentions of Putin in the Russian media last week. Trump had beaten Putin. America first!
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to qualify the news, saying that the number of mentions doesn't reveal anything about the popularity of a politician. But it was too late, the cat was out of the bag.
The little group of "protesters" that was quickly convened outside the massive concrete walls of the state news agency "Rossia segodna" or "Russia Today" looked cute. A dozen Russian men and women waved Russian flags and held signs with slogans such as "No to the Trump cult in our media!" and "Wake up! This is Russia and our president is called V.V. Putin."
Last week's attempt to explain Trump's popularity in Russia looked a little more convincing. The newspaper "Vedomosti" listed five reasons as to why Putin and Trump are equally popular. The first was Trump's age: "Putin's competition doesn't have to be younger than Putin himself." Second was Trump's wife: "The presence of a significantly younger, attractive, if not the most educated woman at the side of an aging politician won't scare away Russian voters." The third most convincing argument according to Vedomosti, is Trump's political incorrectness, even if he hasn't yet managed to outdo Putin's now notoriously crude threat to "waste them right here in the shithouse." Finally, Trump's decisiveness and his accompanying disregard for international standards were also listed as qualities that make him similar to his Russian counterpart. Too similar, as we now know.
What to do about it? The freezing protesters outside "Russia Today" were no good. They were widely mocked. And while stations can report less about Trump, not even the Russian media can completely avoid mentioning the most powerful man in the world. Especially not after giving him 202,000 mentions per week. So there will likely be an attempt here to soften the hard landing back in reality, and turn the tide just a little bit - with the justification that the evil Americans won't let Trump be himself and say what he wants.
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