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Russian President, Commentators Welcome Bush Victory

  • Robert Coalson

President Vladimir Putin on 4 November telephoned U.S. President George W. Bush to congratulate him on his 2 November reelection, ITAR-TASS reported, citing the Kremlin press service. The presidents discussed future bilateral contacts, including possible summits.

Russian pundits continued to comment on Bush's victory. Ekspertiza foundation head Mark Urnov told "Gazeta" on 4 November that "practice shows that U.S. presidents treat our country far more benevolently during their second terms." Politika foundation President Vyacheslav Nikonov told "Kommersant-Daily" on 4 November: "During his second term as president, Bush will not interfere in our affairs, especially as Russia is becoming increasingly important for the United States. I think that Bush will have put a 'plus' mark next to Putin's name for his support." "Stability is very important for us and in this respect Bush suits us," Russian Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists President Arkadii Volskii told the daily. "We have been conducting a business dialog pretty successfully for four years."

Most Russian experts argued that a victory for U.S. Senator John Kerry in the 2 November election would have meant increased U.S. scrutiny of Russia's domestic policies. Expertiza head Urnov told "Gazeta" that Kerry "would have certainly displayed the Democrats' characteristic concern about human rights and democracy. His administration would have harshly criticized Russia over Chechnya, over the Yukos affair, for curtailing federalism and drifting back into authoritarianism. Bush, the Republican, is fairly indifferent to this."

Former Russian Ambassador to the United States Yulii Vorontsev told "Kommersant-Daily" on 4 November that "the Republicans will continue to exert an influence on Russia but will not be interested in human rights in Chechnya or the absence of democratic reforms. The Democrats would have leaned harder on Russia."

"The Republicans' anti-liberal fever has already drastically changed the political atmosphere in America," political scientist Aleksei Bogaturov wrote in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 4 November. "Now it will increasingly spill beyond its borders and stimulate similar trends everywhere, including Russia. Figuratively speaking, Russian liberals suffered just as heavy a defeat as American liberals did on 2 November and there is no particular reason to rejoice in this."

Sergei Rogov, head of the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, said on 4 November that he does not believe the United States will ask Russia to send troops to Iraq now that U.S. President Bush has won a second term, Interfax reported. "It doesn't appear likely to me that the Americans would wish to see a Russian division somewhere in Tikrit or Mosul," Rogov said. He added that Iraq is "central to the policy of the Bush administration" and that "it is in the interests of Washington that Russia should not raise any obstacle to U.S. political actions in Iraq."

Ekspertiza head Urnov told "Gazeta" on 4 November that "the United States will be seeking new allies for finding a way out of the Iraq crisis." "A sobering-up period is starting for that section of the American elite who used to get carried away at the thought that the United States was all-powerful," Urnov said.

Meanwhile, Russian election observers who were part of an OSCE team monitoring the 2 November presidential election in the United States reported on 4 November that they observed "numerous shortcomings" in the poll, including violations of the United States' "already imperfect legislation," ITAR-TASS reported. "There were instance of voters who cast their votes electronically for one candidate finding, during spot checks mandated by law, that their votes had been awarded to another candidate," the observers reported.

The observers also noted voter-registration problems in Oregon, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. They also complained that observers from the Russian Embassy "were not allowed to act as observers in Connecticut, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania." They concluded that the flaws in the U.S. election process "could result in violations of voters' rights and a distortion of the results of voting."

[For reaction from around the world to the U.S. presidential election, see RFE/RL's webpage "World Reacts To U.S. Election".]
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    Robert Coalson

    Robert Coalson covers Russia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. Send story tips to coalsonr@rferl.org

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