MOSCOW -- No one in Friday’s Kremlin-sponsored rally celebrating Russian unity can cast a ballot in the U.S. election, but if they could, they’ve picked their candidate: Donald Trump.
Russians have been fed the Kremlin line by their mass media: Hillary Clinton is bad, Trump is better, the U.S. election is in a shambles, and American democracy itself is broken.
On state TV’s most watched news program, the anchor called the election America’s biggest scandal and featured Donald Trump and Rudolph Giuliani with tales of vote rigging.
“State TV is a direct extension of the Kremlin,” said Mikhail Fishman, editor in chief of the Moscow Times.
He said the Russian government wants to convince its citizens “there is no real democracy in the world. It doesn’t work.”
That’s because democracy threatens Vladimir Putin.
For example, look to the anti-Putin demonstrations demanding democracy in 2011 after vote-rigging allegations in Russia’s parliamentary elections.
When then-Secretary of State Clinton said she had serious concerns, the Kremlin saw it as unforgivable U.S. meddling.
It also blamed America for backing democratic uprisings in Russia’s backyard in nearby Ukraine and Georgia.
So for Putin, to hear a presidential candidate like Trump imply America’s democracy is a sham is sweet revenge.
“We have been accused of being an authoritarian state but as soon as there is no democracy anywhere, no one is to blame,” Fishman said.
The marchers at the Russian unity rally understand the Kremlin’s message perfectly: That opposition and democracy just aren’t worth it so they might as well join the crowd to support President Putin.