How U.S. Meddled in Russian Elections in the 90s

How U.S. Meddled in Russian Elections in the 90s

The Democrats have decided to make Russia enemy No. 1 and the reason why the country elected Donald Trump as our President.

But before we think about whether jobs and the economy played a role, and the fact that people do not like either party and instead chose an outsider who told them what they wanted to hear, let’s take a closer look at who is calling the kettle black.

Why would the Russians want to hack into the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails? Some would call it pay back.

The US government interfered in the Russian elections back in 1996 when their preferred candidate Boris Yeltsin won re-election thanks to the US.

Time Magazine ran a 1996 cover story entitled “Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win,” while a film was made about it in 2003 called Spinning Boris.

I was a journalist in Russia in the 1990s. It was a crazy time when the mafia state exploded and Russian living standards fell dramatically due to free market reforms under Yeltsin.

The US was the biggest cheerleader for Yeltsin and the free market reforms.

You could ask any Russian on the street if they would vote for Yeltsin and they would say no. So how the heck did Yeltsin win?

Enter the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I worked for USAID for a year as a paid public relations adviser who traveled around the country to promote American support for free market business training in marketing, management and advertising.

I was hired by the Clinton Democrats to support Yeltsin, while the Republicans – led by conservative Sen. Jesse Helms – who took control of Congress wanted to cut US “aid” to Russia.

One Russian remarked when I was introduced to a group of businessmen in the Urals, “Oh, it’s the TsiRu (CIA).”

And it is the CIA today that is leading the anti-Russian charge to knock Trump. I didn’t realize at that time what the Russian government knew all along – the US interferes in other country’s affairs, all the time.

They used USAID and other funding mechanisms under the misnomer of democracy building (billionaire George Soros also played a big role) to make sure their favorite kleptocrats were in power.

In the case of Russia – Yeltsin was hated, the economic reforms were impoverishing the Russians and anti-foreign sentiment was on the rise. So the ingenious Americans flew in advisors and PR consultants on the American taxpayer’s dime via USAID to develop advertisements that flooded the TV airways showing images of the gulag and bodies swinging from lampposts to frighten the public that a vote against Yeltsin was a vote to go back to Stalinist times.

The US advisers teamed up with the Russian oligarchs who were promised the country’s jewels – controlling stakes in oil, gas and other mineral industries for kopecks on the ruble – if they would all pool their money into re-electing Yeltsin.

Yeltsin won. The Americans cheered, while the life span of the Russian male plummeted from 68 to 56 during this period of “economic reform,” and the fabulously rich oligarchs controlled even more of the country’s mineral wealth and media.

How bad was it? There was a party one oligarch threw to celebrate opening of a new hotel in Istanbul. The televised bash showed nets opening overhead and people rushing to grab $100 bills falling from the sky.

“Russia has motive, which is everything we’ve done to that country since the late 1980s,” said Mark Ames, a fellow journalist in Russia at the time who founded a satirical newspaper called The Exile in 1998. “Meddling in their democracy is putting it very mildly. We basically restructured their entire political economy, and then left it in a complete shambles. And then we’ve meddled in other ways since then, funding opposition groups and so on and so forth, so they certainly have the motive.”

Ames told the Real News Network that the Democrats have found a scapegoat.

“Obama, and the Democrats, and the centrist Republicans who are pushing this story also have motive, which is to indemnify themselves from the fact that they have been completely rejected by the public,” Ames said. “They lost the elections, and they have the means, which is friends in the CIA and all these intelligence agencies, to create these reports, as we’re seeing. It’s a really dark joke – the whole thing so far.”

It was common knowledge in Russia that the election of Yelstin was fraudulent, yet the international community whitewashed it. Yeltsin had a 3% approval rating at the time of his election, plus he had suffered a heart attack during the campaign and wasn’t even seen in public for most of the time.

One public relations adviser I knew had once worked for Paul Tatum, an American investor in Moscow who was a co-founder of the Radison Hotel and a friend of President Bill Clinton. Tatum was gunned down in a subway after he was involved in a highly publicized despite over ownership of the hotel. His death marked how business was done in Moscow at this time.

This American adviser told me he had a contract with the US government to make sure Yeltsin would win the election. His fellow advisers told Yeltsin to consolidate all the television media under his own wing so that it became one state media, which Yeltsin eventually rewarded to the oligarchs who promoted him. Every TV political ad was pro-Yeltsin.

“Well, in fact we were creating a class of international capitalists in the belief that if we could restructure the economy along the kind of oligarchical lines we would bring them into our system,” Ames said. “They would be subordinate to us and their natural resources would become basically an appendage of the Western economy. That was the hope, and it did kind of go that way for a while, but it was devastating. It was absolutely devastating, and we may want to roll our eyes at the 90s because, again, we didn’t suffer, but Russians suffered enormously then, and honestly I’m surprised they’re not more angry with us about that.”

By Jim Vail