Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ordinary Russians Mistakenly Placing Their Hopes in Donald Trump, Bykov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 8 – That Vladimir Putin should express his admiration and support for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is no surprise. Not only does Trump reflect some of the same populist and nationalist themes the Kremlin leader does, but Putin welcomes Trump’s unilateralism and isolationism as something that might benefit Russia.

            But the more interesting development, Dmitry Bykov says, is that ordinary Russians too are placing their hopes in the American politician, convinced that he will personally aid them with money to address their immediate personal problems such as buying a wheelchair (

            Of course, the Moscow commentator points out, any Russian who was foolish enough to ask Trump for money would quickly attract the attention of the Russian security services as “a foreign agent,” something those who see Trump as “the last hope” for Russians who cannot could on their own government.

            But the more interesting and mysterious question, Bykov suggests, is why Russians are inclined to believe that Trump will help them.  Some may see him as one of “ours,” a crude populist, and thus see him as somehow like Russians, who in many cases are inclined to be generous to a fault.

            Or this Russian support for Trump may reflect a more cynical desire by ordinary Russians for revenge on the US and especially on those Republicans whom they blame for inflicting so many hardships on Russia. For such people, “what is bad for America is good for [Russians].”

            Moreover, “with such presidents as Trump, no enemies need [to be created]: they do everything in that regard on their own,” Bykov suggests.  That is one of the reasons why Putin supports him, feeling “intuitively that Putin for Russia is approximately the same thing as Trump for America.””

            The Moscow writer says that he “even sometimes thinks that perhaps Trump is a deep-cover [Russian] ‘mole,’ our agent, introduced like Shtirlits about 30 years ago.”  In many ways, he writes, Trump acts in a disciplined but cynical way “in the best traditions of the chief special service.”
                Of course, Bykov says, such Russian expectations are “for nought.” If Trump becomes president, he “will act in the interests of his own ratings,” just as he has done up to now. And it will be easier to keep them high if he shakes his fist at Moscow rather than “makes friends with Russia.”

            More to the point, he concludes, “to place one’s hopes in liars, demagogues and populists” is a reflection of despair as Russian history has repeatedly shown.  Russians need to “help themselves” rather than think they can count on some support coming from the United States.

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