The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday claimed the riot on Capitol Hill shows “the U.S. electoral process is archaic, does not meet modern standards, and is prone to violations.”
The full statement from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was a brief but broad indictment of the entire American political system, including the media:
The events in Washington are the internal affair of the United States. At the same time, we are again highlighting the fact that the electoral system in the United States is archaic and does not meet modern democratic standards; it offers opportunities for many violations, and the American media have become an instrument of political infighting. This is largely the reason for the split in US society we are witnessing now.
We hope for the friendly American people to go through this dramatic moment in their history with dignity.
The Moscow Times offered a roundup of reactions from other Russian officials, with the notable exception of President Vladimir Putin, who had not made an official statement on the situation in Washington as of Friday morning.
“The boomerang came back to them. It was them that launched color revolutions. In fifty years they carried out three dozen, if not more. They toppled the leaders in North Africa and Yugoslavia and ousted a normal government in Ukraine, they had a go at Belarus last year. Well, now they are paying for it,” said Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.
Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, made exactly the same point about “boomerangs” and “color revolutions.” “Color revolution” is a term for the anti-communist movements that sprung up in Eastern Europe in the mid-2000s, many of which had explicitly anti-Russian sentiment behind them given those nations’ histories with the Soviet Union.
“The unrest on Capitol Hill that interrupted the official affirmation of electoral votes in Congress certainly casts a shadow on the entire process of the democratic transfer of power,” Kosachev said.
Without talking about boomerangs, Russia’s mission to the U.N. echoed the sneer that Americans are finally getting a taste of the revolutions they applauded against Russian rule: “Why do you call storming by protestors of the U.S. Capitol ‘domestic terrorism,’ and similar and much more bloody events in Kiev in 2014 a ‘revolution of dignity?’”
“American democracy is obviously limping on both legs,” said Vladimir Zhirinovksy of the Liberal Democratic Party. “The holiday of democracy is over. This is sadly a new low, I say this without a shadow of malice. America is no longer plotting a course and has thus lost all rights to set one, let alone impose it on others.”
Even the last ruler of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was rolled out to predict the United States would soon join his evil empire in oblivion.
“The storming of the capitol was clearly planned in advance, and it’s obvious by whom,” the 89-year-old Gorbachev alleged, without saying by whom.
Radio Free Europe (RFE) quoted more “gloating, shock, and laments” from Russian leaders, including the chairman of foreign affairs in the lower house of the Russian parliament, Leonid Slutsky, who agreed with Zhirinovsky that America “certainly cannot now impose its electoral standards on other countries and claim to be the world’s ‘beacon of democracy.'”
RFE quoted some observers of the Russian political scene who doubted the average Russian would swallow these political narratives, since they are long accustomed to blatant vote rigging, ballot box stuffing, and strongarm intimidation of opposition parties in their own system. Still, they expected Putin to squeeze the Capitol riot for every drop of propaganda by portraying his version of eternal strongman rule as more stable than American democracy.
As Russian dissident Alexei Navalny put it, comparing the lives of the average American and Russian voter: “Putinists are jubilant at the chaos in the United States and are praising ‘Putin’s stability.’ Of course, there are problems there. Many. But in the USA, there is still an average monthly salary, of about 306,000 rubles. In the Russian Federation, according to official statistics, the average salary is about 40,000 — or, more likely — 30,000 rubles.”