MOSCOW – Seven hours after Leonid Volkov’s YouTube marathon election night, viewers woke up in Russia asking who had won.
“We don’t know,” said Mr. Volkov, blankly. “This is what you call an unpredictable election.”
Mr. Volkov is the top aide to Aleksei A. Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, and his all-night live broadcast of the US presidential election comes from typical Navalny group online stories of corrupt oligarchs and local officials trample democratic principles.
In Russia, the lingering consequences of America̵7;s Election Day have become the epicenter of a domestic political struggle in its own right, sparking a debate over whether the political landscape has a tight scenario. Whether or not Russia has its own advantages over American democracy.
For President Vladimir V. Putin’s defenders, President Trump’s false statements about widespread election fraud have emerged as the best evidence that democracy is a recipe for disaster.
Putin’s opponents are countering with their own stories: The unpredictability and a hint of chaos around the world’s most effective election underscores the greatness of a free system.
“Compare this with the most embarrassing ‘election’ that Putin and his gang have held for us,” another opposition politician, Gennadi V. Gudkov, tweeted on Tuesday. Five, “with the results outlined in advance by scammers from the Central Commission Election by order from the Kremlin!”
The stakes in how the Russians interpret the US election process this year are high, and Putin’s allies know it. Pro-democracy activists in Russia and around the world have long worried that turmoil in the West – and Mr Trump’s destruction of American institutions – could discredit freedom in their country.
Aleksandr V. Kynev, a Russian political scientist, said: “All of this, Trump’s criticisms, in fact has the function of justifying Russian authoritarianism. “They all find fertile ground in Russia because we do not believe in our own elections.”
On paper, Russia is a democracy, but Putin removed most of his democratic freedoms as early as his 20 years in office. The country still holds elections, with opposition candidates often chosen by the government to come up with a facade choice. Only in very rare cases do they win.
But many Russians are concerned about how democracy can work and how real political warfare can be, Mr Volkov said, explaining why he ran his YouTube marathon. On the contrary, he said: “For us, it’s a huge win when we manage to register a candidate.”
However, the Kremlin’s allies see this week’s elections as an opportunity to make Western democracy vulnerable to chaos, as opposed to the stability Putin proposed.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor of the state-run RT television network, posted on Twitter Wednesday evening that the US election was “neither free nor fair.” Vladimir Solovyov, a famous talk show host, said the US “dealt a huge blow to what confidence remains in the electoral process.”
Trump’s satisfaction with voter fraud has allowed Kremlin allies, who are used to hearing allegations of election fraud from pro-Western rivals, to fundamentally reverse the stance. .
On Russian state television, US election analysts and commentators have deployed the same terminology that the Russian opposition often uses to describe fake elections at home. . There has been talk of “vandalism” or ballot stuffing and the use of “administrative resources”, a common practice among rulers in the post-Soviet space is the use of tools. Government to win elections and against opponents.
“Even if Biden is declared a winner, Trump will have every reason and ability, including his infamous administrative resources, to plunge Democrats into the mud in the most unbelievable way.” Aleksei A. Mukhin, the pro-Kremlin expert, told the state-controlled Rossiya-24 news channel on Thursday.
Voting patterns in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – with Mr Trump leading early, followed by Mr. Biden quickly reaping profits from absentee voting – prompted Putin’s allies to reiterate accusations cramming the votes that the opposition often gets. in Russia and in Belarus.
The fact that Trump questioned the integrity of the vote count, a ruling party legislator named Oleg V. Morozov spoke on a talk show on state television on Thursday, evoking the recent movement in another post-Soviet country: Kyrgyzstan.
“We are witnessing the Kyrgyzization of the US electoral system,” said Mr. Morozov. “The main pillar on which the US has always relied has been questioned.”
The Kremlin said it would wait for “some sort of clarity” in the election results before commenting, but the State Department took the opportunity to criticize the United States with the same language some people have. Russia believes Washington has long, and erroneously, taught them to.
State Department spokesperson Maria V. Zakharova said: “With rivals running for president equally, the obvious flaws of the US electoral system have become apparent. “This is partly explained by the ancient legal rule and its opacity on important matters, as we have said many times.”
But images on Russian television of vote counters across the United States diligently counting votes may have told their own story about how a democracy works.
Critics of the Kremlin are unable to use television, so some are trying to deploy social media to push back the story of election fraud in the US. Vladimir Milov, an adviser to Mr. Navalny, wrote on Facebook that the number of US mailed ballots can be trusted – unlike in Russia, where remote voting is particularly susceptible to tampering.
“This is not Russia, where they hide the ballots in the safe where the electoral commission president has the key,” he wrote.
Putin, for his part, won the right to run for two more six-year terms in a constitutional referendum this summer that was carefully rigged to bring him victory.
But if Mr. Putin decides not to run for re-election, he will lead to a privileged existence that does not exist even as post-presidential Trump, whose company is facing the general’s civil investigation. New York Attorney.
A bill introduced in the Russian parliament on Thursday would give former presidents a lifetime exemption from prosecution.
Oleg Matsnev and Sophia Kishkovsky contributed to the research.