This article was updated at 2:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 17, 2020.
While the world is being rocked by mass protests against racism and police brutality, in Russia the situation is viewed through a starkly different lens. Far from being concerned with the rights of minorities, Russian experts, pundits and government officials worry in appalling language about the fate of white people—and obsess over Donald J. Trump’s declining chances of re-election.
Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia in the State Duma, or parliament, argued that the United States should resort to racial segregation, splitting up into “Black” and “White” states. Zhirinovsky is known for being outrageous. But, far from being ridiculed, his obscenely racist suggestion garnered coverage in the Kremlin-controlled state media, as well as support from a fellow parliamentarian.
Appearing on Russia’s 60 Minutes, Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, wholeheartedly boosted Zhirinovsky’s proposition. In an obvious nod to Trump, Morozov remarked that “Negroes are getting in the way of making America great” and suggested sequestering Black people on reservations. In all seriousness, Morozov argued that Trump or the federal authorities could adopt such measures. “A white person is afraid to step outside,” the politician asserted, arguing for the necessity of such a grotesque “solution.”
Pro-government experts on Russian state television use their word for “negro” with gratuitous abandon, while openly acknowledging that it is an insulting term. The theme of racially motivated unrest in the United States fills pro-Kremlin propagandists with joy and leaves them craving more. “The worse for them, the better for us,” said senior lawmaker Leonid Kalashnikov, and the host of Russia's 60 Minutes Olga Skabeeva grinned in response: “We’re enjoying it.”
Another guest of 60 Minutes, global affairs columnist Maxim Yusin, explained why he is rooting for Trump’s re-election: “The more chaos there is in America, the better. Trump is chaos.”
The Kremlin controlled media's evolution from measured observation to white supremacist schadenfreude was very quick in coming.
At the beginning of the month, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was widely quoted by Russian and Chinese state media calling the unrest in America "a real American tragedy." Appearing on the Russian state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev on June 2 via video stream, Zakharova sternly emphasized that “no one is gloating about this.”
But gloating was all too apparent when Zakharova appeared on the Soloviev show again on June 7. Sitting in front of a messy bookcase, Zakharova let loose and talked excitedly about the implications of the situation unfolding in the United States and Europe. Overflowing, now, with apparent glee at the American tragedy, she laughed: “They’re reaping what they sowed!”
On another installment of the show that same week, Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of a film studio and a prominent fixture on Russian state television, admitted: “For us, this is a very useful period. Let’s be straightforward about it, the weakening of the United States is very beneficial for us.”
Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, opined that America is losing its moral leadership in the world. Suslov added: “It’s no longer a shining city on a hill,” and the host, Vladimir Soloviev, quipped: “Just a burning city on a hill.”
The deputy dean of world politics at Moscow’s State University, Andrey Sidorov, described the United States as Russia’s existential enemy and predicted that the disintegration of the U.S. could happen at any given moment. He advised Russia to show no mercy toward its beleaguered adversary.
Similar sentiments were echoed across various Russian state media outlets.
“The breakup of the United States of America is already under way,” said Oleg Nilov, member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
Appearing on the state TV show 60 Minutes, State Duma deputy Aleksey Zhuravlyov mournfully lamented: “Unfortunately, there won’t be a civil war in the United States.”
“Negroes are raging all over the place in their country. Should we get involved?” pondered the host of a Russian state TV show 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva. In fact, The New York Times reported that according to seven government officials briefed on recent intelligence, Russian intelligence operatives are very much involved, attempting to incite violence by white supremacist groups.
Kremlin-controlled state media messaging is consistent with the perception that Russian intelligence officials are striving to appeal to President Trump’s core voters, aiming to influence the upcoming presidential election.
“Everything points to Trump’s re-election, because he is consolidating white America. The ongoing unrest is conducive to that... One more generation and the whites will be in a minority in their own country,” said Alexander Kramarenko, “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” of the Russian Federation and a member of the Russian International Affairs Council, appearing on 60 Minutes.
During his nightly program, state TV host Soloviev, known for his close ties to the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, grimly predicted that the American carnage is yet to come. He ominously noted that the whites own the majority of firearms in the United States.
Also appearing on 60 Minutes, the former deputy foreign minister Andrei Fedorov, who now heads a political consultancy, declared that “Black terror” was coming to America. “Give them a piece of the pie and they’ll want the whole pie,” Fedorov declared. A panelist from the Russian International Affairs Council, Alexey Naumov, was concerned that the protests might lead to “reverse segregation” against white people.
“They want to oppress the poor cops, forcing them to kneel!” complained 60 Minutes host Olga Skabeeva without a hint of irony. She added: “It’s a humiliation of the white person!” With the shrill intensity of a buzzsaw, Skabeeva exclaimed: “The whites lost to the Blacks! The whites have been crushed.”
Even the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda outlet, RT—which normally pretends to side with protesters against Western governments—has finally found the movement to oppose. RT published an op-ed anticipating “some act of horrific violence—like the Charlottesville car attack—which then thrusts the Republicans into a negative light. After all, the people can only handle so much stress before things begin to get really ugly. All of this will contribute to crippling the economy and bringing down the House of Trump.”
That is something the Kremlin definitely does not want.
In his first interview that addressed the unrest in the United States, President Putin claimed that it manifested “deep systemic internal conflicts” stemming from the Democratic Party’s refusal to accept the legitimacy of Trump’s election.
The infamous Maria Butina alleged on The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev that the ongoing protests are orchestrated by the “deep state” to deprive Trump of his presidency.
As a rough-around-the-edges gun advocacy activist, Butina was glammed up and sent to the United States in 2016 to infiltrate conservative circles, building covert lines of influence for the Russian government. In December 2018 she pleaded guilty to conspiring with a Russian government official to act as a Russian agent in the U.S. without registering with the Justice Department. Deported to Russia after five months in a U.S. prison, she is now used as part of the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus delivering anti-American talking points on Russian state television.
Appearing on Soloviev’s program, Butina complained that Trump’s presidential authority is being actively undermined and pointed out the prevalence of racial tensions in America. In spite of her conviction and deportation on his watch, Butina is still rooting for Trump.
Likewise, the Kremlin is still stumping for Trump’s re-election, undeterred by the threat of additional sanctions recently proposed by the Republican Study Committee. Addressing the GOP’s strategy proposal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “We hope that these plans will remain at the level of statements and will not materialize in any way.”
Russian state television showed the text of suggested U.S. sanctions against Russia over the background of Trump and Putin’s 2018’ press conference in Helsinki—a moment of unquestionable triumph for the Kremlin, when the American leader blindly accepted the word of a Russian authoritarian, valuing it more highly than the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies.
Russian experts, pundits and Russian government officials made it abundantly clear why the Kremlin continues to support the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
Sidorov, from Moscow State University, said: “Republicans and Democrats have different enemies. Russia will always be enemy No. 1 for the Democrats. That’s why I would say that Biden is not very beneficial for us. For the Republicans, China is the main enemy. If I was placing wagers, I would support Trump in some way, shape or form—which is what our government is doing.”
Sidorov speculated that the Republicans proposed the new sanctions because they are no longer sure whether Trump will be re-elected, and want to cement their own positions in the Senate. He added: “Things would be much more challenging with the Democrats. If it was Clinton—or if Biden comes to power—not only the American elites will become consolidated, but also the transatlantic elites. They will consolidate against Russia—not against China.”
Already the Russians’ favored candidate, Trump earned bonus points for his recent decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany. During her regular Foreign Ministry briefing, Zakharova praised the anticipated move and said that Russia “would welcome any steps by Washington to scale down its military presence in Europe,” urging the United States to take their tactical nuclear weapons home from Germany as well.
Twenty-two Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee wrote to Trump last Tuesday, urging him not to proceed with the withdrawal, because “such steps would significantly damage U.S. national security as well as strengthen the position of Russia to our detriment.” But that’s exactly why the Kremlin is such a fan, and one of many reasons why Trump’s candidacy remains a precious—albeit imperiled—commodity for the Putin regime.