On September 19, Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman published on Internet a two-minute video he filmed for the non-profit ‘Committee to Investigate Russia’. He claimed that Moscow meddled in the US election.
In the video Freeman said: “We are at war. We have been attacked.”
He stated that the attack was masterminded by Mr. Putin, “a former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland”, who “plots a course for revenge”.
Freeman said the Russian president used “cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world” and social media “to spread propaganda and false information” and convince people in democratic societies to “distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors.”
The Mr. Freeman’s monologue triggered a media storm in Russia. The general reaction of Russian authorities is summarized in the statement of Mr. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said:
“Many performing artists easily succumb to becoming victims of emotional strain with no real information about the real state of things.
“They become victims of an emotionally charged, self-exalted status, an extension of some sort of McCarthyism, I would say. It fades away over time.”
“This can hardly be taken seriously, because it is obvious that such a phenomenon has no real informational basis, it’s purely emotional.”
The message is not new. Months ago Russian press presented to public the President Putin’s statement:
“The hysteria (I can not call it otherwise) unfolded in the United States about Russia’s influence on the current election of the American president belongs to the mythical, invented problems”.
Putin noted that the discussion about the attacks of Russian “so-called hackers” was designed to divert the attention of American voters from such problems as public debt and the growth of violence with the use of firearms.
Since then the Russian official press and TV coverage of the subject consist of variations on the Putin’s statement. “Histeria” is the most popular word in all the latest Russian publications about America.
Several months ago Russian government decided, following the tradition, to give America “symmetrical” answer. The State Duma invited the head of the FSB of Russia Alexander Bortnikov to discuss the issue of the US interference in Russia’s affairs, including the activities of Russian media.
“Dear colleagues, if you do not mind, we will send an invitation to the Director of the Federal Security Service to address the State Duma, we will hold a closed hearing of the issue”, said Speaker of the Chamber Vyacheslav Volodin.
During the discussion of the proposal, the head of the Duma Information Policy Committee Leonid Levin commented on the Russian language coverage of the Russian State Duma election campaign of 2016 by the American radio stations “Voice of America”, “Radio Liberty”, as well as the CNN TV. “The media outlets that disseminate information on the territory of Russia are part of a large-scale system of US influence on the internal political situation in Russia, in particular, in cases, when interacting and coordinating with various funds and NGOs that are foreign agents,” said Levin.
Representatives of all parlamentary parties supported the ideas.
These ideas were also supported by Vyacheslav Nikonov, the head of the Duma committee on education and science, the grandson of Viacheslav Molotov.
Nikonov also said that one of the main anti-Russian NGOs is the Internet.
“The Internet is really a non-profit organization registered in the US,” said Nikonov. According to Nikonov, anti-Russian propaganda “has been conducted ever since the XVI century in the West.”
Still some Russian oppositionists accused Putin of helping Trump to win election.
Famous chess player, Russian opposition politician Garry Kasparov believes that the Kremlin’s intervention in the presidential campaign in the US had a serious impact on the election results and the election of Donald Trump.
“We do not know the extent of involvement of the Russian special services in this operation, but it is clear that the information from WikiLeaks, which in many ways was decisive in discrediting Clinton, was completely controlled by Moscow,” Kasparov said in an interview with the website Obozrevatel.com
According to Kasparov the special services of the Russian Federation had been controlling the process of batch release of compromising materials, which guaranteed that the topic had been staying in the news. “Moreover, it is quite obvious that the Trump’s spam bots on the Internet are also a product of the Putin trolls factory,” he added.
Kasparov also believes that the independent candidate, the leader of the Green Party, Jill Stein, participated in the presidential campaign as a secret tool of Putin. According to Kasparov, Stein, who criticized Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton “with phrases from the Kremlin’s vacabulary,” influenced the final results of the election in at least two states”- in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Though Russian authotities deny their involvment with the American election and call American investigation of the matter «hysterical», at least one of the top Russian opponents of Putin is sure that the involvment did take place and was successful.
But what is the opinion of ordinary Russians? I couldn’t find a commentary on the subject neither in the Russian official media, nor in the Internet.
I sent emails with the question to several Russian friends. They tried to avoid a direct answer. A well known artist wrote: “There are different Russians. Some are smart, some are stupid. Of course some Russians believe that Russia helped Trump. Others believe that Trump deceived Russia. Still others believe that this is a double and triple play in which US agents created Trump’s support by Russians.”
A film critic answered with her own question: “And what do you yourself think? Did Putin help Trump to win, or all these ideas are bullshit?”
Further discussions made it clear: my Russian friends afraid to tell me that they believe that Putin helped Trump to win, because they think that I, being an American, will find this opinion naïve and stupid. In fact they all belive that Trump became American president thanks to Putin’s help.
Finishing our exchange of emails, the film critic wrote: “I think Russia did it and was successful. All Russians think so, including intellectuals”.
My friends believe that Russian government’s denials are just smart diplomatic lies. Most of Russians are proud that their president is so powerful, that he can control who will rule America.