Russia backs Donald Trump for US president | US presidential elections 2016: What do I need to know? | DW | 04.11.2016
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Russia backs Donald Trump for US president

Moscow is leaving little doubt about which future US president the Kremlin would prefer. Trump is seen as "Russia's friend," but is he really the better candidate for Russia? Juri Rescheto reports from Moscow.

Vladimir Putin is hoping there will be a dialogue with the US. That's what he claims. He would prefer to be spoken with, rather than dictated to.

At an economic forum on October 12 in Moscow, the Russian president complained: "It is difficult to have any kind of dialogue with the current US administration. There is basically no discussion. They formulate their demands and insist that they be met. But that is not a dialogue. That is a diktat." The head of the Kremlin was visibly agitated.

The "Russian factor" in the US elections

But Putin need not complain about the attention that he and his politics have been receiving in the US election campaign. He himself has been critical of both candidates' superfluous and negative discussions about the "Russian factor," which he has described as short-sighted. A few days ago at the renowned discussion group "Valday" in the southern Russian city of Sochi, Putin asked, "Does anyone seriously believe that Russia can influence the vote of the American people? Is America some kind of Banana republic? America is a superpower."

And this superpower is strongly disliked in Russia. Up to 80 percent of those polled by the independent Levada Center see the USA as "extremely negative." Although the tone of anti-American propaganda on television has softened somewhat, US politics is still generally portrayed as threatening. Interestingly, Russians view the US administration as an enemy but not ordinary US citizens. Apparently one particularly popular US citizen in Russia is Donald Trump. According to a recent survey, 38 percent of Russians believe that he would be the better president for Russia. Only 9 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

Trump is increasingly giving Moscow the cold shoulder

After initially professing clear support for Russia, the eccentric billionaire from Texas has meanwhile shown unclear mood swings in the direction of Moscow. When asked at an event in the US state of Nevada why he "likes Putin," Trump answered that he neither liked nor disliked the Russian head of state. "Maybe we'll have a great relationship. Maybe we'll have a terrible relationship. But maybe it will be something in between," he added confusingly.

Watch video 00:26

Trump denies being involved with Russia

And there continues to be verbal backpedaling in Washington. During the TV debate between the vice-presidential candidates, Trump's number two, Mike Pence, talked about a "corrupt system" in Russia. He claimed that in regards to the US, Putin dictates "his terms to the best country on earth." In this way, Pence was reversing Putin's complaint about being dictated to, rather than holding discussions. As an example, Pence used Russia's approach to Syria.

Moscow's shifting beacon of hope

And most recently, Trump himself described Moscow's military operation in Syria as a violation of agreement. This was a clear criticism of Putin. According to journalist Sergey Strokan from the Moscow newspaper " Kommersant, " if Putin does not listen, Russia would screw up again - as it has so often done in its relationship with the USA.

Strokan recalled that in the previous US election campaign in 2008, Barack Obama was described as "Russia's friend" and the same kind of hope was placed in the Democrats. At that time, the negative role was played by the Republican candidate John McCain, against whom the Democrat Obama seemed like a "shining light in the dark realm of Washington."

Watch video 00:59

Donald Trump praises Russian leadership

Before Obama it was George Bush Jr., who claimed he looked deep into the Russian president's eyes and "understood his soul." Male bonding developed, climaxing in Putin's visit to Bush's private ranch in Texas, but did not prevent the Americans from invading Iraq - against the will of the Russians.

And now hope rests with Trump. In the 600th episode of the Simpsons, the main character Homer goes to vote for the American president. At the ballot box, he meets a stranger who looks like Russia's head of state - bare-chested, sitting on a horse. This man votes for the Republican candidate. The figure "Putin" predicts 102 percent of the vote will go to Trump.

But will so much goodwill towards the magnate from New York do Russia any good in real life? It is unlikely.

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