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Russians Await Donald Trump's Inauguration With Anticipation


When Barack Obama was elected president more than eight years ago, many people around the world celebrated. There was one notable exception - Russia. The day after Obama's election, Russia's president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, announced the deployment of nuclear-capable missiles to the Polish border. Well, now Russia is awaiting Donald Trump's inauguration with the same eager anticipation that the rest of the world once greeted Obama. NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that the Obama administration had broken enough chinaware and was looking forward to a fresh start with a Trump White House.


SERGEI LAVROV: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Lavrov said he understood that Trump was looking for the most effective way to secure America's national interests. That coincides exactly with Russia's idea of how to conduct its own foreign policy, Lavrov said, and it would be, quote, "stupid not to cooperate where the two countries interests intersect." The Kremlin has reacted angrily to suggestions that it interfered in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump win. Yesterday, Putin tried to set the record straight.



KIM: "I don't know Mr. Trump, and I've never met him," Putin said. "I don't know what he'll do on the international stage, so I don't have any reason to attack, criticize or defend him." But the message the Kremlin has been sending is clear. Trump is Russia's best hope to get Obama's sanctions lifted and the U.S. off its case. That idea is being delivered by the national TV channels which all are controlled by the Kremlin.


DMITRY KISELYOV: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: On his weekly news program last Sunday, moderator Dmitry Kiselyov mocked Obama's farewell speech in Chicago. "Never have so many male teachers been shed in politics," Kiselyov said. That's how it used to be under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and now in America under Obama. Scenes of death and destruction caused by U.S. foreign policy then filled the screen.

Judging by a recent poll, Russians have gotten the message. A poll taken by the independent Levada Center after the U.S. election showed that 60 percent of Russians believe Trump will be better for Russia compared to a mere 5 percent who thought Hillary Clinton would have been.

In an unusual honor for a foreign leader, silversmiths in the Ural Mountains were commissioned to mint a commemorative coin featuring the 45th U.S. president with the words in Trump we trust. The company's website says it's the perfect gift for your boss, business partner or client and a symbol of success and, quote, "unique accomplishments." On Monday, Russian TV celebrated Trump's own accomplishments and introduced his extended family.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Limos, jets and high rises flashed by, but when the announcer introduced Trump's sister Elizabeth, footage of Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the president-elect's fiercest critics, appeared. Now, even Donald Trump would call that fake news. Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lucian Kim
Lucian Kim is NPR's international correspondent based in Moscow. He has been reporting on Europe and the former Soviet Union for the past two decades.