Putin: ‘It’s Obvious’ America Struggles with Democracy

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in an All-Russian open class titled "To Remember Means To Know" via video conference at Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow on September 1, 2020. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty

Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented “problems in the U.S. election system” during an interview Sunday, stating that he would not congratulate presidential challenger Joe Biden until his victory against President Donald Trump was certain.

Putin, one of the few world leaders not to congratulate Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), asserted that he had “no ulterior motive” for not having done so, but was merely waiting for the legal action by Trump’s campaign team seeking recounts and alleging voter fraud in several states to conclude, in case new evidence resulted in Trump’s victory. The strongman leader made the remarks in an interview with Rossiya 1, a national broadcaster.

“Formalities must be followed based on established practices and legal standards. There is no ulterior motive or anything that could serve to further degrade our relationship. It is a purely formal approach,” Putin insisted, according to a translation by Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik.

“It is not that we like or do not like someone — we are simply waiting for an end of this internal political confrontation,” Putin said, promising, “We will work with any person, who holds the trust of the U.S. people. But to whom this confidence is given — it must either be indicated through political convention when one of the parties recognizes the victory of the other, or the final results of the election should be summed up in a legitimate, legal way.”

Putin took the opportunity of explaining why he had not congratulated Biden to disparage the U.S. electoral system, suggesting that the Electoral College was not “democratic.”

“It is quite evident – it is clear for everyone in the world – it seems to me that it is clear for Americans, there are problems in the U.S. election system,” Putin asserted. “A candidate, who wins in this or that state, he gains all votes of the electors. For example, there are 20. Gained 11, but took all 20. But it may be that there are fewer voters behind these electors.”

“Is it democratic? In my opinion, the question is obvious,” Putin said, adding on behalf of the Russian nation, “it is not our business.”

Putin asserted that the American electoral system is flawed amid a scandal in which his regime, which has ruled for 15 years, stands accused of using a chemical weapon to poison his most prominent adversary, dissident activist Alexei Navalny. Navalny fell into a coma mysteriously in August, prompting his team to fly him out of Russia to Germany.

Navalny has since made a full recovery and the German doctors who treated him said that they had found traces of Novichok, a nerve agent almost exclusively used by the Russian government, in his system. The doctors announced in September that they had “unequivocal proof” of the use of Novichok in Navalny’s case.

“I assert that Putin was behind the crime, and I have no other explanation for what happened,” Navalny told Der Spiegel in October in his first interview since his alleged poisoning. “Only three people can give orders to put into action ‘active measures’ and use novichok. Those who know Russian states of affairs also know: FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, foreign intelligence service head Sergey Naryshkin and the director of GRU cannot make such a decision without Putin’s orders.”

Putin’s presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called Navalny’s interview “insulting and unacceptable” and has repeatedly referred to the accusations as “absurd.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speculated this month that the German government, not Russia, poisoned Navalny.

“We have all grounds to believe that everything which had happened to him [Navalny] from the point of view of warfare agents entering into his body, could have happened in Germany or on the plane where he was loaded and sent to the Charite clinic,” Lavrov claimed.

In light of growing protests against Putin’s inept handling of the Chinese coronavirus crisis and censorship of opposition leaders, Russia’s legislature, the Duma, is reportedly working on legislation to block social media outlets like Youtube and Facebook to prevent the spread of anti-Putin ideas. According to the Moscow Times, a draft bill submitted last week would give the office of Russia’s Prosecutor General and its Foreign Ministry the power to censor international social media outlets, alleging that U.S.-based outlets like Twitter and Youtube have “censored” Russian propaganda outlets. The social media sites in question have not blocked content but, rather, labeled it as being produced by the Russian state.

“Discriminatory actions against Russian clients of these services have taken place. … This must be countered,” Peskov said last week.

Like Putin, Peskov has been loudly and publicly critical of the American presidential election.

“Any uncertainty in the most powerful world economy in one of the largest countries has and could potentially have negative consequences for global affairs, first of all for the global economy,” Peskov told reporters following the presidential election. “Meanwhile, we will see how long this uncertainty period lasts and how strong this influence is.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lamented the “obvious shortcomings of the American electoral system” the Wednesday after the election.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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