Putin confidently won a fourth term in Sunday's presidential election, taking over 76% of the vote amid a turnout of over 67%. Unfortunately, as Rick Sterling pointed out, some Western countries just can't seem to accept that result.
"The West is already diminishing the results here," the journalist said, speaking to Radio Sputnik. "The New York Times is calling it a 'charade'. And the one thing I would note here is that when the West likes the results of an election, they say it was free and fair, no matter how corrupt it was. If they don't like the results, they say it was unfair and a charade – for example in Russia today they're calling it a charade."
At the same time, Sterling pointed out, even The Times admitted that there wasn't really any question that Putin is popular with Russians. "That's a pretty big contradiction," he said.
Rick Sterling: In the West, there's basically non-stop demonization of Russia and President Putin, I'm sad to say…Just about any accusation can be made, and it will not be looked into, or it will not be considered what's the evidence to back that up. So we're seeing really an abandonment of due process in legal proceedings; that's really sad, [and] needs to be countered.
Sputnik: Mr Putin, by the time he's finished, will have been the president for 20 years. That's a massive endorsement for the Russian people to give an individual that kind of length of the term. Why can't the Western media and governments just get on with it?
Rick Sterling: Well they don't want to get on with it, because Mr Putin has led the transformation of Russia from a very weak position to a position of greater economic stability at home, and into a position where it's supporting other governments around the world and actually supporting international law. And that's what's really at stake here: The question is whether there is one superpower that dominates the world, that is, the United States.
That's what we've seen happen in Syria. To its credit, Russia has come and in keeping with international law, has aided the Syrian government in standing up in self-defence, and that's what's really enraged the US elite or the neoconservatives – the war hawks in the United States. And I think that's what's really behind the demonization of Vladimir Putin and Russia right now.
Sputnik: What's your prognosis regarding the development of Russia-US ties, especially amid this Skripal case?
Rick Sterling: Well I think that whether it was going to be Vladimir Putin or [Communist Party candidate Pavel] Grudinin, or whoever was going to be the leader of Russia, the situation in the US is that they're demanding acquiesce. And any independent country that stands up and seeks to chart its own path is going to be targeted.
Personally, I am glad that Russians have elected leadership that is experienced, that's calm, that chooses diplomacy, but which knows that it needs to stand up for international law and that caving in in the face of aggression will likely lead to more aggression. I think there are dangerous times ahead, and the Russian people have spoken pretty loudly and clearly, and that needs to be heard in the West.
The views and opinions expressed by Rick Sterling are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.