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Russia's Putin Welcomes Obama's Re-Election


Russian President Vladimir Putin sent word congratulating President Obama on his victory. Still, as NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow, during the campaign, the Russian government and state-run media sough to discredit the American electoral process.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Most Russians haven't followed the U.S. elections very closely, but those who did remembered that Mitt Romney had characterized their country as America's number one geopolitical foe. This is Ekaterina Stenyakina, co-chair of the All-Russia Youth Guard, the youth wing of President Putin's United Russia Party.

EKATERINA STENYAKINA: (Speaking foreign language)

FLINTOFF: Stenyakina says she sees Romney's rhetoric as a threat to world peace. In the run-up to the election, Russia's state-run media tended to follow the theme that the U.S. election system gave voters little real choice. As one commentator put it on RT, the Russia Today channel, does it make any difference whether one establishment corporate-backed candidate wins over the other one?

Political scientist Boris Makarenko says the Russian government made a particular effort to discredit the U.S. electoral process releasing at least two reports that attempted to cast doubt on whether U.S. elections were free and fair.

BORIS MAKARENKO: The fear was that if many Russians looked at the American elections and saw that Democracy worked, they might ask themselves a question, why doesn't it work in Russia?

FLINTOFF: Makarenko is the chairman of a Moscow think tank, The Center for Political Technology. He says the government's campaign to discredit American elections was as heavy-handed as anti-U.S. Soviet propaganda during the 1950s and '60s. Despite that, Makarenko says the Kremlin is likely to be satisfied with Obama's election because the two sides have already done a lot of diplomatic business with some positive results. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow.


MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.