Prague, 3 november 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on 3 November welcomed the apparent victory of U.S. President George W. Bush in the previous day's U.S. presidential election, Interfax reported.
"If Bush wins, I will be heartened that the American people did not allow itself to be intimidated and made a logical decision," Putin said. He repeated an assertion he made last month that he believed the goal of international terrorists and the insurgents in Iraq was to prevent Bush's reelection. He said the appearance of a videotape of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on 29 October, just days before the vote, "confirms this thesis in the best possible way."
Putin added that Bush has been a "strong and methodical politician" in conducting the war against international terrorism. "He is a reliable and predictable partner," Putin said.
"This struggle is not a joke and will be long and will demand serious efforts," Putin said. "We now have established cooperation tools and much has been done. I hope that this will continue. We can demonstrate our unity in the struggle against this threat."
"If Bush is reelected, we will congratulate him and will be glad that none of the mud of the campaign has stuck to him," Putin said. "And we will express the hope that he will demonstrate his best qualities and all the experience that he has accumulated leading this large and globally important country." He said that over the last four years, Russian-U.S. relations have "improved considerably to the benefit of our peoples and international security."[For reaction from around the world to the U.S. presidential election, see RFE/RL's webpage "World Reacts To U.S. Election".]