On March 18, Vladimir Putin secured 76 percent of the vote, for yet another electoral victory as the president of Russia. He has been the president or prime minister of Russia since 1999 and will rule for at least another six years.
Shortly after President Putin’s victory, U.S. President Trump called Putin to congratulate him. President Trump’s congratulatory call is disturbing on many levels.
The United States is the leader of the Free World and aims to promote democracy. Therefore, the United States should never support any country or regime that doesn’t aim to promote these values.
Since Putin has held power, he has had a notorious reputation for rigging his elections. This election wasn’t any different.
For starters, Putin barred his biggest opposition threat, Alexei Navalny, from running in the election.
With the four others involved in the race, the closest anyone came to contesting Putin was Pavel Grudinin, who only received 12 percent of the vote. That wide of a margin with four other competitors raises skepticism about the validity of the election.
An independent election-monitoring group, Golos, discovered many things to prove this election was by no means “free and fair.” Golos found that observers were not allowed at some polling stations, that various objects obstructed webcams and that people were bussed in, which drew suspicion of forced voting. Video footage from the election commission’s live stream then revealed that election officials stuffed ballots into the ballot box.
President Trump’s failure to adhere to his national security experts and the Intelligence Community was just as disturbing as Putin’s anti-Democratic tactics.
Several experts in the Intelligence Community concluded that Russia meddled in our elections. This is a threat not only to our democracy but also to our national security.
If Russia can influence our most significant election, then it may very well possess the capability to hack our infrastructure or financial institutions.
The most shocking part about the congratulatory phone call is that President Trump ignored the advice of top national security advisers, who wrote “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” on one of his briefing materials.
These advisers were well aware of the type of message it would send for the president of a revered democracy to congratulate a victor of a coerced and rigged election, but President Trump didn’t care.
The U.S. is the international symbol of democracy, freedom and peaceful ideals. With that said, we don’t recognize and respect unfair elections, and we shouldn’t bow down to any threat to our national security.
Tyler Jordon is a senior political science major from Charleston, West Virginia.