President dictator Vladimir Putin is trying to send election observers to America this November 8th, to provide direct assistance to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s quixotic quest to destroy democracy and win the race for President of the United States at the same time. There’s always a story within the story from Putin’s Russia, and this story is all about trying to color outside the lines by demanding direct access to the polls instead of working through an accredited non-partisan international monitoring agency, which they’re invited to staff.
The US State Department immediately rejected the Russian offer, and state officials in Texas even threatened to arrest any Russian election observers.
Russia’s latest aggressive propaganda ploy and direct assistance to Trump is breaking a longstanding taboo in relations between the two nations to not directly or indirectly interfere in elections.
In reality, the Obama administration has invited European election observers, as well as inviting the Organization of American States, to observe our polls, primarily a means of encouraging participation in their hemispheric monitoring programs.
It’s obvious that the Russian foreign ministry is playing games by asking to be an international election observe. They might be trying to keep American election officials off balance, so they’re not sure where the Kremlin’s agents may land, which is another reason why Russia isn’t too keen on joining the real election observer group formally invited by the US federal government.
During the 2012 Russian presidential election, that OSCE organization reported a 33% irregularity rate in an election that Putin won with a 63% majority.
Ironically, Russia Today and that country’s other official news sources conveniently forget that they themselves passed a law outlawing “foreign agents,” according to Human Rights Watch. They wrote that Putin’s administration and predecessors used their “foreign agents” law ban any foreign groups from observing and reporting on elections and very specifically to chase away GOLOS, the voting rights organization which monitored heavily disputed elections in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
For the past four years, the Kremlin has sought to stigmatize criticism or alternative views of government policy as disloyal, foreign-sponsored, or even traitorous. It is part of a sweeping crackdown to silence critical voices that has included new legal restrictions on the internet, on freedom of expression, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and on other fundamental freedoms. An enduring, central feature has been the 2012 law requiring independent groups to register as “foreign agents” if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined “political activity.” In Russia, the term “foreign agent” can be interpreted by the public only as “spy” or “traitor.” To date, Russia’s Justice Ministry has designated 146 groups as “foreign agents,” courts have levied staggering fines on many groups for failing to comply with the law, and over 20 groups have shut down rather than wear the “foreign agent” label.
Russia just issued a harsh court decision just this month, under that law, to liquidate GOLOS.
These are Donald Trump’s friends, the man Putin that the Republican nominee says he knows – and presumably loves, after you listen to his glowing review of the dictator.
The entire operation raises grave concerns that the Republican nominee’s call to watch polls in certain places is being heard by the very same people who watched Trump ask for lots of hacked emails and responded by delivering Democrats’ private discussions to Wikileaks.
President Obama called Trump’s relationship with Putin a “bromance” today. Reality is that the Republican nominee is looking to Russia’s President for an election day political bailout, which is a lot more like what his daddy might do for little trust-fund baby Trump, when he failed time after time in the private sector.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition