RUSSIALINK: “Moscow sees importance of Russian theme in U.S. election campaign – Lavrov” – Interfax

Sergei Lavrov file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 18 (Interfax) – Russia is closely following the U.S. election campaign, noting the importance of the subject of Russia during this process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“As any other normal country that cares for its own interest, for international security interests, we’re closely watching how the U.S. election campaign is going. There are many astonishing things there. Naturally, we see how important the Russian theme is in this electoral process,” Lavrov said in an interview with RTVI on Thursday.

“The Democrats are doing all they can to prove that Russia is going to capitalize on its hacker capabilities, giving ammunition to [incumbent U.S. President Donald] Trump,” he said.

“They’re already making accusations that we’re going to push a narrative that the Democrats are abusing mail-in voting, thus harming the impartiality of the voting process. I want to note that mail-in voting has become the target of systematic attacks by U.S. President Trump personally. Russia has absolutely nothing to do with it,” Lavrov said.

Mail-in voting, which lasts for a week, is an “interesting point of comparison as concerns the electoral systems of different countries,” he said.

“A three-day voting period has now been introduced in Russia for electing governors in some regions, as well as for electing members of the legislature. You see how much criticism this initiative is facing, including inside the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.

“However, when early voting continues for weeks, if not months, in the U.S. itself, this is seen as a golden standard of democracy. I don’t see any criticism targeting it,” he said.

Russia proposed conducting an analysis of electoral systems within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in order to compare all good practices and analyze what has clearly become outdated, Lavrov said.

“The U.S. has already witnessed instances when, because of its cumbersome and discriminatory electoral system, a candidate who has won the majority of votes may lose because electors, not citizens, vote during the second stage. And there have been plenty such examples,” he said.

“When I once told former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in response to her complaints about our electoral system, ‘You see your problem. Maybe, you’d better busy yourselves with trying to amend this discriminatory electoral system?” she replied that “Yes, it’s discriminatory, but we’re used to it, and it’s our problem. So, mind your own business,'” Lavrov, speaking in Russian, quoted Rice as saying.