Europe

Russian media's love affair with Trump

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Media captionTrump v Clinton: What the Russian papers say

Donald Trump has called the American media "disgusting", "corrupt", "biased" and "dishonest".

If he could read Russian, I suspect he'd appreciate the way the media here have been covering the US election.

Pro-Kremlin newspapers have waxed lyrical about Donald and, at times, torn Hillary to shreds.

"I officially declare that Clinton is a cursed witch," wrote Russian MP Vitaly Milonov recently in the popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. "That's why even a funny guy like Trump looks more reasonable in comparison."

The Russian press has portrayed Clinton as a raving Russophobe.

"Russia is already fighting on two fronts, in the Donbass and in Syria," wrote the pro-government Izvestia.

"If the war-like, Russia-hating Hillary Clinton wins the US election, a third front could open up in the Caucasus; money will pour in to support terrorists, just like it did during the two Chechen wars. There could even be a fourth front in Central Asia, where weak regimes are already being attacked by extremists and 'Orange Revolutions'."

In contrast, the Russian media praises Donald Trump's pro-Russia position.

"If he's able to put into effect 30% of his plans regarding Russia and Putin, that will be good," noted Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Trump is portrayed here as an outsider: "the upstart with no connection to the ruling class", according to Komsomolskaya Pravda.

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Image caption Russian media have been portraying Donald Trump as the outsider in the US election
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Image caption Hillary Clinton is seen as a Russophobe

"The political coup against him has failed," wrote the government paper Rossiskaya Gazeta. "Trump's speeches are unpretentious, without the kind of hypocritical political correctness of the conservative establishment. He feels out the pressure points of the deepening structural crisis in America."

In America, Trump's lewd conversation about women taped 11 years ago on a bus sparked outrage and condemnation.

Not in the Russian press.

No big deal

In the broadsheet Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Moscow University academic wrote that "Trump's words were the kind of spiel you hear over a cup of coffee...they've been blown up into a whole scandal".

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Media captionSteve Rosenberg looks at how relations between Moscow and Washington have become so tense

Komsomolskaya Pravda compared criticism of Trump's taped conversation to the Democratic Party's outrage over the hacking of its server.

"So, to hack the server of the Democratic Party and to publish the cynical correspondence of Hillary Clinton's aides, for an insight into the methods used to finance her campaign, that is considered 'indecent'. But to secretly record a private conversation, that is 'OK'?"

The Moskovsky Komsomolets declared: "The Trump 'sex scandal' isn't worth a thing... After all, Franklin Roosevelt, who was US president four times, died with his lover on his knee. And John Kennedy had hundreds of mistresses. One of them had suspected links to East German intelligence; another was the lover of a famous Chicago mafia boss."

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed claims that Moscow favoured Donald Trump in the US election as "complete and utter rubbish".

Russian media coverage tells a very different story. And not only in the papers.

At times Russian state television sounds like 'Trump TV', repeating at length the tycoon's claims that the election is rigged.

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Image caption President Vladimir Putin says he has no favourite in the race

Two weeks ago, Dmitry Kiselev, the anchor of Russia-1's flagship news programme News of the Week, read out an extract from Mark Twain's 'Running For Governor'. The implication: that elections in America have a long history of fraud.

Chaos

Last Sunday, he dismissed US elections as "not direct, not equal, not transparent, not everyone can vote, and there are many opportunities for vote rigging".

He predicted that whoever wins the election, the loser is unlikely to accept the result.

Most chillingly, Kiselev's programme has raised the spectre of Donald Trump being assassinated.

"They could just kill him," Kiselev declared back in September. "America's Special Services don't need a president like this. They whip up hatred for Russia to justify their own existence. The American oligarchs don't need Trump, either... The American establishment is ruthless."

This week Komsomolskaya Pravda issued a similar warning, concluding it "couldn't exclude the most dramatic scenario a la John Kennedy".

If you were to base your view of the US election solely on pro-Kremlin newspapers and state TV, you might easily conclude that the election is rigged, that the result almost certainly will be contested and that America faces a prolonged period of post-election chaos.

"This isn't an 'Orange Revolution' yet. But it's funny," concluded Dmitry Kiselev.

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