Amid the flurry of media reports blaming Russia for allegedly “interfering” in last year’s U.S. presidential election, top Russian politicians are warning that the U.S. is set to exert “unprecedented pressure” on the Russian political scene in order to influence the outcome of Russia’s upcoming national elections in March 2018.
Last Friday, top Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev, Chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee, warned publicly via his Facebook account that the U.S. government would attempt to interfere in the upcoming Russian election, as it only accepts victories of pro-Western candidates as proof that elections were “free and fair.”
The United States recognizes elections as fair and democratic only when they are won by pro-Western candidates. In the case of any other outcome, election procedures and results are anathema to them. Judging by the increasing demagogy about alleged Russian interference [in U.S. elections], they have already started their ‘artillery raid’ ahead of the Russian presidential elections. It is likely that the scale of pressure there will be unprecedented.”
According to RT, Kosachev’s remarks were given in response to a recent statement by the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who last Thursday called the Russian government’s alleged but unproven “meddling” in last year’s U.S. election “warfare.”
Kosachev’s concerns are hardly unique among Russian politicians. Less than two months ago, in August, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned that “there is no doubt” that the U.S. would attempt to interfere in Russia’s upcoming electoral process. “We are used to American interference, we live with it. It’s the same as wire-tapping by U.S. secret services. Someone who doesn’t assume it, is an absolutely naive person living on a different planet,” Ryabkov told Chinese and Japanese media.
“Too much trust”
More recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech last Thursday, slammed the U.S. government for seeking to exploit Russia’s past willingness to engage in diplomacy and enter into international treaties as a weakness, specifically citing U.S. manipulation of Russian politics in the chaotic aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union.
“The biggest mistake our country made was that we put too much trust in you, and your mistake was that you saw this trust as a lack of power and you abused it,’’ Putin stated.
In a previous interview with American director Oliver Stone, Putin further elaborated on the aggressive meddling of the U.S. in Russian political affairs, asserting that such meddling was “especially aggressive” in the 2012 election, where U.S. diplomatic staff and NGOs campaigned for and funded opposition parties. That interference led Russia to expel USAID from the country, as that NGO alone had spent $50 million on “democracy promotion” in the months leading up to the 2012 election.
Since the 2012 election in Russia, the Russian government – as well as some Russian opposition parties – have accused the U.S. of stepping up its interference in Russian electoral politics. In 2015, Russia’s Security Council accused the U.S. of plotting Putin’s ouster through a combination of financing the opposition and encouraging mass demonstrations in an attempt to spark a “color revolution.” Several notable opposition leaders have also been accused of receiving millions in U.S. funding since Russia’s last presidential elections.
Aside from interference in Russian politics, U.S. government data shows that the U.S. interfered 81 times in foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. As Kosachev noted in his warning about upcoming interference, this figure “does not include their special operations and military coups that took place in countries that elected candidates with whom the United States was not content — such as Iran, Congo, Chile and Guatemala.”
“More than that, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring and pro-Western revolutions in post-Soviet states, interfering with the political processes of other nations is the main tool by which the U.S. maintains its international influence,” Kosachev added.
Top photo | A Russian Black Sea fleet sailor leaves a polling booth to cast his ballot at a polling station during Russian parliamentary elections in Sevastopol, Crimea, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Maxin Voronov)
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