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Power of Projection: American meddling in Russian Election in 1996

In January 1996, Yeltsin’s approval rating hovered around 5 percent. His chances of winning a fair election were close to zero. What then explains his reelection? Who benefited in reelecting highly unpopular president? Obviously, those who can push their agenda by manipulating drunkard with a major heart problem. And there were plenty of those who could benefit from plundering Russia.

Yeltsin’s presidential campaign was led by a liberal team, headed by Anatoly Chubais, financed by Boris Berezovsky, and “advised” and “consulted” by the Americans through several NGOs – National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

James Goldgeier and Michael McFaul explained it in their book Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy toward Russia After the Cold War: “American campaign consultants did what they could to support their marginalized clients. They did succeed in meeting with Yeltsin’s daughter and played a useful role in educating her in campaign techniques.”

The authors admit that:

“senior foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration detested these direct forms of intervention in the Russian electoral process. For some, it was morally wrong. For others, it was strategically unwise, since any hint of American involvement might taint the very candidate that the United States wanted to win.”

However, “American democracy assistance programs did contribute to Yeltsin’s re-election effort,” concluded the authors, one of whom was a former ambassador to Russia.

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