This is the Real Russia Story You Should Care About

While everyone is losing their marbles over unfounded Russian collusion claims here in the U.S., this story out of Russia actually is quite troubling.

Meet 61-year-old gulag grave researcher and Soviet crime truth teller Yury Dmitriyev. Dmitriyev is a member of Russia’s oldest human rights group, Memorial, that has tirelessly worked to expose Soviet repression of deaths behind the Iron Curtain last century. Here’s more on the group:

The Human Rights Center’s mission is to promote general respect and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms both in the Russian Federation and in other states.
The HRC “Memorial” sets the following aims and tasks: observing of human rights and fundamental freedoms execution; giving publicising and giving reliable information about considerable violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms; attracting the attention of public governmental and international institutions to these kind of violations; conducting and supporting of research aimed at the study of serious human rights violations; assisting with observance of humanitarian law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts under the conditions of military conflicts; assistance with the adoption by power holding structures of legal acts correspondent to international rules in the domain of human rights observance; theoretical and practical enlightenment of human rights and humanitarian law.

Dmitriyev was arrested in December 2016 on account of three alleged crimes: child pornography, child endangerment, and illegal possession of a firearm–unfounded charges being hurled at him for exposing Soviet crimes the Kremlin still denies today. If convicted, he faces 15 years in jail.

He and his wife adopted a young girl, then age 3, and documented her progress from malnourished to healthy. Per Guardian, experts have assessed the photos and found nothing contentious about them. Dmitriyev himself was adopted as a child. As for the firearm, Dmitriyev’s supporters are confident that his crime of “owning parts of a non-working hunting rifle” is a stretch too far. As of this writing, over 31,000 people signed a petition calling for the patently false charges against him to be dropped.

“For our government to become … accountable, we need to educate the people,” Dmitriyev said to The Guardian.

Prior to Dmitriyev’s arrest, members of his group Memorial were labeled “foreign agents” by the Kremlin. Here’s more about Dmitriyev’s work to uncover the truth about the victims of Stalin’s crimes:

Using detailed documents uncovered in KGB archives, Dmitriev was able to piece together the location where Stalin’s execution squads killed and buried more than 9,500 people from 1937 to 1938. The documents contained the dates and names of those killed, as well as the executioners’ names. During the next two decades, Dmitriev worked meticulously to document every victim’s story.

Today, Sandarmokh, as the site became known, is a memorial to the people of more than 60 nationalities buried here, including those from Norway, Finland, Poland, Ukraine and Russia.

Interestingly enough, Dmitriyev’s work has included uncovering more about the White Sea gulag, or Belomor Canal gulag, where my maternal grandpa was imprisoned for 18 months:

Located near the Solovetsky islands, the birthplace of the gulag, the Karelia region in north-west Russia is where tens of thousands of prisoners were shot or died digging the infamous White Sea canal for Stalin’s first five-year plan. As an aide to a regional official, Dmitriyev first began searching for their graves after being summoned to deal with remains uncovered by an excavator at a military base in 1988.

Soon he began trying to identify victims of the mass executions, which were carried out covertly. During the brief period when secret police archives were opened up in the 1990s, Dmitriyev managed to read thousands of execution orders into his tape recorder. He could then try to match each group of skeletons he found to a specific order.

If I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman, I would happily thank him for attempting to bring justice to the victims of Stalin’s crimes. This stuff — the silencing of dissidents, the imprisonment of those who challenge revisionist history, or persecution of those who wish to reform Russia — is what the American press should be up in arms about. Where were they when Putin assumed office in 2000? (Most likely excusing his actions.) They should start caring about combating revisionist history in that nation, not instigating war with a tyrant like Putin by delegitimizing Trump’s election. Like Trump or not, you’re stuck with him. Deal with it.

For those unaware about modern-day Russia, there is a resurgence of Neo-Sovietism in the country being propped up by the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. (I wrote about this in great detail at Townhall several years ago.) In June, Stalin was rated the “most outstanding figure in world history” by the Levada Center with 38 percent–followed by current president Vladimir Putin at 34 percent. Approximately 1,600 people were polled. Also in June: Putin sat down in an interview with Oliver Stone and said that the “excessive demonization” of Stalin is a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.

If you’re only outraged about the Kremlin’s behavior since Election 2016, your concern is disingenuous at best–especially if you’ve excused Soviet crimes in the past. Challenging orthodoxy in that country–especially holding Russia’s government accountable for denying its past crimes against humanity under Soviet rule – is grounds for punishment, imprisonment, and yes, even death, in the modern day.

This is the real Russia story. Start covering it.

Trump Presses Reset Button on Russia

A notable moment for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was her presentation of a “reset” button (pictured above) to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2009. In February 2017, President Trump rightly criticized Clinton for the reset, which came the year after Vladimir Putin had invaded the country of Georgia and seized two of the nation’s provinces, although his criticism seemed to concentrate more on style than substance.

“Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks?” Trump said in the Washington Examiner. “[Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] looked at her like, ‘what the hell is she doing with that cheap plastic button?’”

Now, eight years later, President Trump is attempting his own reset with Russia. Less than a year after Putin’s hackers attempted to influence the American presidential election and succeeded in penetrating voter databases in at least 39 states, Donald Trump appears to be ready to forgive and forget.

After a rousingly strong speech in Poland in  which he criticized the Russian president for “destabilizing” Europe and the Middle East, two days later Trump seemed to make a 180 degree turn after a private meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany.

The two men seemed to hit it off in Hamburg. An hour into the 30-minute meeting, First Lady Melania Trump was sent in to get the two billionaire world leaders to break it up. Despite the First Lady’s efforts, the men talked for another hour and 15 minutes before moving along to the next items on their respective schedules.

When President Trump emerged from his conversation with Putin, he was far less critical of Russia than he had been a few days earlier. Immediately after the meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a press conference that, with respect to Syria, “by and large, our objectives are exactly the same” as Russia, despite the fact that Trump has just called Russia’s influence “destabilizing.” Russia intervened to support the Assad regime while the US position is still that “there will be a transition away from the Assad family.”

With respect to Russian interference in the American presidential election, Tillerson said, “The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”

“The two leaders agreed, though, that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us to move the Russian-U.S. relationship forward,” Tillerson continued, “and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of non-interference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those of other countries. So, more work to be done on that regard.”

The work must have been quick and productive because today President Trump said, “It is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia.” Shockingly, the president even said that he and Putin “discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit,” a move that Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said was “akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit.’”

Trump’s statements translate to an “aw, shucks, I just can’t stay mad at you” moment in which he proposes to put the proverbial fox on guard duty at the henhouse. In addition to meddling with the 2016 elections, Russia is the state actor that is widely suspected of cyberattacks on US energy companies that were apparently occurring even as the men talked in Hamburg.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not the only US officials that have fallen prey to the Putin’s apparently considerable charm and personal magnetism. In 2001, George W. Bush famously described the man he nicknamed “Pootie-Poot” as “very straightforward and trustworthy.”

Barack Obama seemed to be more honest with Putin than with his own constituents. In March 2012, President Obama told then-Russian President and Putin lackey Dmitri Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” after the US election that year. A few months later, Obama pooh-poohed Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia was a “geopolitical foe.” In a presidential debate, Obama poked fun at Romney saying, “The 1980’s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.”

Putin played them all for fools.

George W. Bush closed out his presidency with the Russian invasion of Georgia, a US ally. Five years after Hillary Clinton’s reset and two years after Obama claimed the Cold War was over, Russia annexed Crimea, a territory of the Ukraine, and then launched into a shooting war with Ukraine itself. Obama’s administration ended with Russia meddling in the core institution of American democracy, the presidential election.

The previous resets with Putin’s Russia have been disappointments. Vladimir Putin will undoubtedly take advantage of President Trump’s naiveté as well. The Russian president has shown himself to be a man who sees an outstretched hand as a sign of weakness and who responds only to strength.

“A productive conversation would be one where President Trump clearly communicates to Putin that the US won’t be quick to offer concessions, but to the contrary, that Trump is going to be a tough negotiator, one who Putin feels is committed to protecting American interests and values, and someone who he will back his talk with action, not just as a one-off, but on a consistent basis,” Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, advised in Business Insider before the meeting.

Unfortunately, the conciliatory Trump, not the tough negotiator, is the man who met with Putin. Trump didn’t bring a cheap, plastic reset button, but he may as well have.





Let’s Get Real: May Day is Marx Day

As the New York Times absurdly celebrates communism in its op-ed published on April 30th, it is worth remembering that the May 1st “holiday” of May Day – also called International Workers Day – was itself originally promulgated by Marxists. Outlets like USA Today, NBC News, and others are happily touting the May Day protests that will be occurring across the United States as just another iteration of the anti-Trump demonstrations that have become so common, but history shows us the more sinister origins of the modern holiday. May Day was co-opted from an ancient European spring festival by the Second International, a global socialist & communist movement formed in Paris on July 14, 1889 that would pick the 1st of May as the date for an international holiday to advocate for socialist ideals. The International Workingmen’s Association, also called the First International (from which the Second International would directly spring), was founded in London on September 28, 1864 and would soon be led by none other than Karl Marx himself — author of the Communist Manifesto and intellectual forefather of the socialist & communist movements. It’s also worth noting that the Third International, also called the Communist International or Comintern, would be founded on March 2, 1919 and would be led Vladmir Lenin as he climbed to power within the new Soviet Union. The Comintern would advocate for the spread of worldwide communism and would only be dissolved in 1943 by Joseph Stalin himself as he consolidated his own grip on power in Soviet Union. A direct line runs from the First International & Karl Marx to the Second International & May Day to the Comintern & Lenin & Stalin.

May Day was generally celebrated with massive marches, demonstrations, & parades throughout communist countries like the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, & Cuba (and still is in some communist hangers-on). May Day Parades would be especially critical to the propaganda machine of the Soviet Union throughout its existence, giving a succession of Soviet dictators the chance to rally their people and showcase military hardware with massive parades consisting of soldiers, red flags, tanks, missiles, and gigantic banners of Lenin & Stalin paraded through the Red Square in Moscow. Examples of the Soviet May Day Parade can be seen here, here, and here. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the final Soviet May Day Parade would be held in 1991. But as Vladmir Putin consolidated his grip on power inside Russia and began invading his neighbors (like Ukraine), he decided to bring back the May Day Parade in 2014 for the very first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse (and it has now been held annually in 2015, 2016, & 2017 as well). Little wonder that Putin — the man who considered the fall of the Soviet Union the worst geopolitical disaster of the 20th century — would want to revive some old Soviet traditions. So now, a holiday started by a communist organization and celebrated by a communist nation has been revived by a strongman who misses the days of communism past. And this beloved communist ideal — originally sparked by Karl Marx, carried out by madmen like Stalin & Mao & Pol Pot, and missed dearly by lovely folks like Putin — is responsible for the deaths of one hundred million people.

As one fan of Marx put it in The Guardian on May Day in 2015:

“Every year, on May Day a spectre comes to haunt us. The spectre of Karl Marx. He’s been coming since 1889, when the Second International first chose 1 May as the date for International Workers’ Day. And although we understand that he’s the brains behind the show, we don’t like him hanging around. His presence makes us uncomfortable. He reminds us of difficult things. Over the years, we’ve done our best to exorcise him. Hitler buried him under the Day of National Work. Khrushchev engulfed him in elaborate parades. The Catholic church disguised him as Joseph, the patron saint of workers. Franco outlawed him altogether. Some countries appeased him with a public holiday; others, like Britain and Ireland, preferred to confuse him with the first Monday of the month. It’s time we faced up to the ghost: May Day is Marx Day, whether we like it or not.”

Indeed. The wide global acceptance of May Day has been triumphantly called “the only unquestionable dent made by a secular movement in the Christian or any other calendar.” So remember: at its core, May Day isn’t about May Poles — it’s about Marx. Might I suggest celebrating Loyalty Day instead?

Everything You Need to Know: A Troubled Couple, U.S. and Russian Relations

The United States and Russia are at least in agreement on one point: the relationship between the two countries is currently bad.

Russian President Putin stated on Wednesday that the American-Russian relationship has worsened, adding, “One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated.”

U.S. President Trump also stated, “Right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all.”  Meanwhile, Secretary of State Tillerson is currently in Russia relaying a similar message to Putin in person.

This strain in relations comes following a chemical weapons attack in Syria which the U.S. believes was conducted against rebels by the Syrian government (under Syrian President Assad’s leadership), while Russia maintains that it was either accidental or conducted by the rebels themselves in order to implicate Assad.  Some in the U.S. also allege that Russia itself was complicit in the attack in some way.

As a result of this chemical weapons attack, the U.S. launched airstrikes against Syria and is now increasing calls for Assad’s removal from power.  Trump has also met with NATO in order to gain their support in condemning Syria and to drum up support for future action.  This marks an about-face from his previous dismissal of NATO’s relevance.

The U.S. has called for Russia to distance itself from the likes of Syria (and Iran) in order to work more closely with the U.S. and other Western countries on mutual interests, such as combatting ISIS and fighting Islamic terrorism in general.

However, Russia is currently maintaining support for Syria due to their interests in the country’s current government (i.e. Assad).  The Russians have a naval base in Syria and have recently reached an agreement with Assad to expand and modernize the facilities there.  The Russians view the base, and another Syrian air base, as essential to their ability to project military power in the Middle East.  Russia likely fears that without Assad, the government of Syria would either be taken over by someone less reliant on Russian support or that the country would devolve into a lawless state such as Libya, making future use of the Russian bases problematic.

For its part, the U.S. would like to remove Assad from power, presumably instituting some sort of democratically-elected government while keeping the radical elements, such as ISIS, from power.  At the same time, the U.S. wants to limit the nuclear ambitions of both Iran and North Korea.  At least with North Korea, the U.S. finds China as sharing similar interests in keeping North Korea in check.   So far regarding Syria, there is not a comparable understanding or relationship between the U.S. and Russia.


Beware the Bear – McCain says Paul “is now working for Vladimir Putin”

During a debate in the Senate on Wednesday concerning a treaty to allow Montenegro to join NATO, Senator John McCain accused Senator Rand Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin.”

This came after Paul objected to the treaty and then left the Senator floor.  McCain railed against Paul, concluding:

The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians.  So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.

McCain’s office later “clarified” that what he meant was that Paul’s objection to Montenegro’s membership in NATO served to advance Putin’s goals in Europe.  McCain and others (including the British) have argued that Russia had planned to overthrow Montenegro’s government via a coup in order to prevent it from entering NATO.

Montenegro is a small country on the Adriatic coast, across from Italy and bordered by Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.  With the exception of Albania, Montenegro and its neighbors arose out of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s; they were the nations of the “Southern Slavs” (the literal meaning of “Yugoslavia”) who were forced together after WWI into a single state.  Their breakup in the 1990’s was therefore like any family breakup; brutal and prolonged, giving rise to U.S. and NATO intervention in the Balkans during the Clinton administration.

Thus, Senator Rand Paul is essentially asking the question (to paraphrase), “Should the U.S. guarantee the security of Montenegro through the NATO alliance and risk spending money and blood to do so?”  Whether or not one agrees with Paul’s conclusion, it is a valid question worth asking and considering before binding the U.S. to such a commitment.  In addition, well-meaning Americans can and will fall on either side of the debate.

Therefore, the story about McCain insulting Paul is about much more than a personal feud.  It is also about the conflict between two different views of America’s role in the world.  One (McCain’s) views America’s role as the protector of foreign democratic governments and institutions.  The other (Paul’s) views America’s role primarily as the protector of American liberty, life, and treasure.  This conflict has been going on since the founding of the United States, and this Republic has ebbed and flowed to one side or the other over its lifetime.

The nostalgic days of us insulting each other by calling the opposing side either “communists” or “Nazis” appear to have instead been replaced by accusing each other of being “Putin’s cronies.”  The trend since President Trump’s election has been to see the Russian bear hiding behind every disagreement or ominous circumstance.  McCain’s insult of Paul is just the latest incident.  It would be healthy for our Republic if we can learn how to debate and disagree without resorting to playing the rhetorical Russian card.

Russians Frown at Flynn’s Flight

Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, resigned last night.  He had been under fire amid accusations that he had not been fully truthful with the Trump administration concerning the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.  Absent a resignation, it was expected that he would have been dismissed by the Trump administration.

Now, the Russians have released their own statements concerning Flynn which decry his departure.  The Associated Press has a summary, but it is more interesting to look at Russia’s online news site in which there is a longer Russian-language article concerning Flynn.

Both the AP and quote Konstantin Kosachev, who is the head of the International Committee of the Federation Council of Russia (the Federation Council is the upper house of Russia’s parliament).  Thus, he is a fairly high-level official as well as the recipient of numerous awards from the Russian state.  Of Flynn’s departure, he said:

Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner… or Russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom.

Kosachev also sought to point out the apparent oddity of dismissing an American official for communicating with the Russian ambassador, saying:

[to] expel the National Security Adviser for contacts with the Russian ambassador (which is the usual diplomatic practice) – it’s not even paranoid, but something infinitely worse.

The article also contains an analysis by Edward Lozansky who is president of the American University in Moscow and opines on US-Russian relations.  He is quoted as saying, “This is certainly a great loss for the future of relations between Russia and the United States.”

The fact that the Russians had latched onto Flynn so tightly is odd and will only lend strength to suspicions that he was somehow compromised by them.  It is not as if the Trump administration’s policy towards Russia will suddenly change with Flynn’s departure.  It is therefore not clear why the replacement of the National Security Advisor should be a setback for relations between the two countries, as is assumed by many of today’s articles and by the Russians themselves.

The Russians, for their part, are now pinning their hopes on the planned Trump-Putin summit sometime this summer.  According to Lozansky, this summit will be just the first step.  The Russians also want Trump and Putin to later meet with the Chinese president Jinping to engage in a trilateral US-Russian-Chinese summit to discuss issues which affect all three countries.

Barack Obama’s Legacy of Failure

As the Obama era draws to a long awaited close, it’s appropriate to look back on the past eight years and contemplate the legacy of Barack Obama. For those seeking to put a positive spin on President Obama’s seemingly endless administration, I’m reminded of Mr. Chow’s standard of excellence from the “Hangover” movies: “Did you die?” No, I didn’t die during Obama’s tenure, but by any other standard his administration will probably be judged a failure by history.

Mr. Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the law that bears his name in popular culture, is a failure and its days are numbered. The Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” has not lived up to its name. Health insurance premiums have increased sharply under Obamacare, even as deductibles and coinsurance have increased. This means that Americans are paying more for healthcare both at the insurance office and the doctor’s office. And, of course, Barack Obama’s promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” went down in history as the Lie of the Year.

Even by the standard of providing coverage to the uninsured, Obamacare is a failure. The uninsured rate is at a historic low, but remains above 10 percent. For its enormous cost and disruption, Obamacare hardly ushered in an era of universal healthcare.

Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan is largely forgotten now, but it is part of his legacy. The plan failed to stimulate the economy, but the Obama era has been a period of heady deficit spending. The borrowed $787 billion stimulus set the tone for the rest of Obama’s presidency. In the final analysis, President Obama nearly doubled the national debt. According to data from, the total federal debt has increased to more than 100 percent of GDP under Obama. The debt increased from $12 trillion under President Bush to about $23 trillion today. That is more than a trillion dollars per year of debt for every year of the Obama presidency!

Even after inflating the national debt, the US has still not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Even though unemployment has stabilized and decreased, the labor participation rate, the metric that shows how many Americans are in the work force, has decreased throughout Obama’s presidency. To find a historic level that is as low as the current level under Obama, you’d have to look all the way back to 1978 and the presidency of Jimmy Carter.

One part of the Obama legacy that will stand, for better or for worse, is the redefinition of marriage. While this was an action of the Supreme Court and not the president, Obama failed to adequately defend marriage laws in court and appointed justices that helped to upend thousands of years of tradition. As the first sitting president to embrace same-sex marriage, the landmark decision will be linked to his presidency.

Barack Obama also has a secure place in history as the first black president. His election did not heal the racial divide among Americans however. His tenure was marred by racial tension, especially over shootings by police, and race riots. A CNN/ORC poll in October found that more than half of Americans think that race relations have gotten worse under Obama.

President Obama’s record on foreign policy isn’t much better than his domestic record. One of the first things that comes to mind with President Obama’s efforts at diplomacy is the withdrawal from Iraq. President Obama campaigned in 2008 on withdrawing from Iraq and, in 2012, made good his promise after failing to negotiate a status of forces agreement that would permit US troops to remain in the country.

In 2012, Iraq was a stable and functioning democracy. A short time later, after US troops left the country, the Islamic State launched an offensive and gained control of large parts of both Iraq and Syria. Military leaders say that Obama ignored their advice to maintain a US force in Iraq to stabilize the region. The hundreds of thousands of dead, many brutally murdered by ISIS, are a part of Obama’s legacy as well.

The Middle East is not the only region where America’s enemies advanced during the Obama years. Russian President Vladimir Putin brazenly annexed Crimea in 2014. Russia has been fighting a proxy war against the Ukraine ever since. The Ukraine had relied on US and British protection under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Ukraine gave its nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for “security assurances.”

In Asia, China has not fired shots in anger, but the communist country has illegally been turning South China Sea atolls into artificial islands. Military bases are being built on the islands that could threaten many US allies in the region.

Obama’s seminal foreign policy achievements are abject failures. His nuclear deal with Iran was never ratified by Congress and is already being violated by the Iranians. The Trans Pacific Partnership, one of Mr. Obama’s few conservative achievements, was pronounced dead on arrival by President-elect Donald Trump, who is on par with Bernie Sanders when it comes to free trade agreements.

Ironically, one of the biggest legacies of Obama, the champion of the nanny state, is the loss of faith in government among Americans. Gallup shows that American trust in government peaked in 2003 when 60 percent of Americans believed that government would do the right thing most of the time. The current number is lower even than when President Bush left office amid the Iraq War and the Great Recession. In spite of – or perhaps because of – Obama’s conviction that government is the solution to every problem, only 19 percent of Americans now trust the government. Gallup also shows that 67 percent of Americans see government as the biggest threat facing the country. This is a 13-point increase over Obama’s term.

The falloff in trust in government may explain another Obama legacy. Under President Obama, the Democratic Party has been devastated at the state and local level. During Obama’s eight years, the party of Big Government lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures, governorships, Congress and the White House.

Even though President Obama leaves office with a respectable approval rating of 57 percent, his coattails have been short to nonexistent. Barack Obama’s personal popularity has not translated into popularity for his party or his ideas. With few rising stars surviving the Republican electoral victories of the past four years and Democratic ideas rejected by voters, the Democratic Party has a difficult road ahead.

Russia Has Inserted Itself In American Politics Thanks to Both Parties

Russia is not only trying to reassert itself in Eastern Europe, it has found ways to reassert itself in American politics.

I hate to agree with 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, but he was correct in his assertion that Russia is the biggest geopolitical foe the U.S. has. Flashback to the third presidential debate between Obama and Russia from 2012:

Members of both parties have cozied up to the Kremlin over the decades. The majority of the Democrat Party has been reluctant to condemn Soviet crimes, but apparently voiced their disdain for Vladimir Putin at their convention in Philadelphia last week. (What took them so long? Smells like opportunism to me.) Some Republican lawmakers have sung the praises of Putin given his apparent “strength” and machismo-including the current *Republican nominee for president.

Let’s see where the top candidates for president stand on Russia, according to their past actions or affiliations:

Donald Trump

Donald Trump certainly desires to be a American oligarch in the image of Putin, but with far less brutality. He recently joked that Russia should reveal all 33,000 emails belonging to Hillary Clinton. Of the two candidates, Trump appears more pro-Kremlin than Clinton. (More on her Russian dealings later.) His key advisors are Putin stooges who’ve meddled in Ukraine’s elections to help elect pro-Kremlin politicians like Viktor F. Yanukovich to power. Trump also said that those in Crimea already feel Russian so no need to give control back to Ukraine–which he backtracked this week. Trump said if he’s president, Crimea won’t be invaded by Russia–although Russia invaded and usurped it from under Ukraine’s nose in 2014. Here are his full remarks on Crimea and Russia:

 “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

“I’m going to take a look at it,” he said. “But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also … just so you understand, that was done under Obama’s administration.”

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is no saint with respect to Russia either. She helped orchestrate the failed Russian “reset” deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2009. She handed him a button assuming it read “reset” but it actually translated to “overcharge.” Watch the exchange below:

And more incriminating? Mrs. Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton raked in $145 million for their Clinton Foundation in the controversial Russian uranium deal. Below are the full details on the shady deal:

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

During her stint as Secretary of State, Clinton also pledged billions of American dollars in the “creation of a Russian “Silicon Valley” whose technological innovations include Russian hypersonic cruise-missile engines, radar surveillance equipment, and vehicles capable of delivering airborne Russian troops,” writes Peter Schweizer. Scary.

Both candidates have made troubling statements or awful gestures that have emboldened Russia militarily, financially, or morally to some degree. Although American interests should come first, it’s imperative to be aware of Russia’s influence – however direct or indirect – on American electoral politics.

Davai, comrades!