Russian Media Roundup: While the Russian media was mixed in their analysis of the recent elections in Eastern Ukraine, they were much more confident in making a prognosis about the state of U.S.-Russian affairs after the Republicans’ big victory in U.S. midterm elections

President Barack Obama walks away from his podium at the conclusion of his news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama held a news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. Photo: AP

Two elections – the Nov. 2 elections in Eastern Ukraine and the Nov. 4 midterm elections in the U.S. – were in the spotlight of the Russian media this week. Amidst attempts to sort out the winners and losers of these two elections, the Russian media highlighted the fact that, for the second year in a row, the influential journal Forbes placed Russian President Vladimir Putin first in its rankings of the world’s most powerful people.

The Republican victory in the US elections

The pro-government mass media (Channel One), analyzing the elections that occurred in the U.S. this week, writes with undisguised gloating that President Obama has been placed in an uncomfortable position by the Republican victory. The opposition media (Nezavisimaya Gazeta) also suppose that the American president has wound up in an unpleasant situation. However, the focus is on the causes and consequences of such a situation. The independent press (Kommersant) predicts increased tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Yulia Tsilyurik of Nezavisimaya Gazeta thinks that Obama’s failures are not the only cause behind the defeat of the Democrats in the elections: “The midterm elections have in effect turned into a referendum about confidence in Obama. The other reason for the failure of the Democrats was the weak interest of voters in the elections (despite the record expenditures of $3.67 billion) and low turnout. The Democrats were unsuccessful in mobilizing its electoral base – the youth, women and ethnic minorities.”

Kommersant's Kirill Belyaninov emphasizes that, “Obama’s ‘indecisiveness’ in resolving the Syrian crisis, problems tied to Iran’s nuclear program, and the struggle with Islamic State militants has provoked the dissatisfaction of Republicans in Congress. In addition, representatives of the Grand Old Party (GOP) believe that the head of the White House must increase pressure on Moscow. A group of senators has already promised that soon both chambers of Congress may begin consideration of the “Russian Aggression Prevention Act.”  This bill… provides for the adoption of new sanctions against Russia and the immediate supply of military and technical aid to Kiev.” 

The pro-government newspaper Izvestiya brought forward the opinions of several experts that they consider independent. Thus, Tatyana Baykova brings the opinions of various experts, the majority of which agree that we should expect the confrontation between the U.S. and Russia to grow, specifically against the backdrop of the new domestic political situation in the U.S.

Baykova provides the commentary of one of Russia’s leading experts, Fyodor Lukyanov: “One should expect more political announcements. There may be tougher sanctions since they can be adopted at the congressional level.”  

Meanwhile, Channel One correspondent Anatoly Lazarev reports that, “Serious problems may arise for the American President-Democrat in his own country.”

“For the first time in eight years, Congress will be fully controlled by Republicans,” he notes. “The enemies of the White House chief will be at the helm of all of the committees in both chambers and set the entire legislative agenda.” “The leader of the Democratic Party has rendered it a disservice. Public opinion polls show that seven out of ten Americans are unhappy with his policies. And their negative attitude to the President-Democrat gave the advantage to the opposition Republicans.”

Elections in the separatist republics of Eastern Ukraine


It remains to be seen if the controversial parliamentary elections in Eastern Ukraine will hamper Russia-West attempts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. Pictured: Elections in the Luhansk People's Republic Photo: RIA Novosti

The Russian media had mixed reactions to the elections held in Novorossiya on Nov. 2. The pro-government press (Channel One, Izvestia), as expected, supported the elections while the opposition (Slon, Echo of Moscow) tended to consider them a farce.  

Slon's Maksim Vikhrov writes about the elections with undisguised negativity. “According to the announcement made by the DPR Central Election Commission, more than a million local inhabitants voted in the elections and the turnout was around 85 percent. A turnout of some seven hundred thousand people was also boasted of in the LPR,” he notes. “However, taking into consideration the dubious reputation of the organizers and observers, it is hardly possible to rely on these figures.”

A blogger for the opposition radio station Echo of Moscow Lev Krylenko is also skeptical: “Right now everyone is laughing about the elections in the DPR: Is it really possible to fake something like that?” “Sure, there is hardly anyone who needs to be convinced democratic procedures weren’t observed there, but to so openly paint the results – that seems amazing: Are they really so stupid?” writes Krylenko.  

Izvestiya, a pro-Kremlin newspaper, gives voice to Russian politician and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov to sum up the results of these elections. He supposes that Russia must recognize the elections in the DPR and LPR: “Yes. I think we must recognize them. There is no need to look and look again to the USA and West.”

In support of the elections in the DPR and LPR, Channel One brings forward the opinions of experts who do not even argue against each other but sound in unison.

“One can say that Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky are people chosen by the people,” says the political analyst Sergei Mikheev. “That is, it is already impossible to say that these are some kind of terrorist-separatists who have seized automatic weapons and proclaimed themselves chiefs. The people have chosen them independent of whether one likes it or not.”

The political analyst Denis Denisov seconds him: “They [Kiev] now have to, like it or not, orient towards some kind of negotiations with those who are now already fully legitimate, elected representatives of the so-named DPR and LPR, the representatives of Donbas. And this is, probably, the key outcome of the elections that took place this Sunday.

Putin’s ranking in Forbes

Vladimir Putin. Photo: Vostock-Photo

There was not a little fuss about the American publication Forbes, in which Putin was recently ranked as the most influential person in the world. The opposition (Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta) and pro-government (Moskovsky Komsomolets) press were united: Vladimir Putin is definitely the most influential person in the world. However, the opposition also asks at the same time what this means in our agitated times.

Stanislav Belkovsky states in his blog on the website of the Echo of Moscow radio station that, “First of all, Forbes is absolutely right. It cannot be considered flattery. It is certainly the case that today Vladimir Putin is the only leader in the world of a major country that is in a position to blackmail the world with a great war and thus attain his own personal objectives, not the objectives of his country, but his own personal objectives as he sees them and understands them. That is why today one cannot disagree with Forbes. The only questions are what this means for humanity and what lessons we must learn from this.” 

Moskovsky Komsomolets discusses the reasons why the Russian president landed in first place: “This time the Forbes editorial team is underscoring the fact that Putin ‘demonstrates his might at home and on the world stage.’”