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Russian American Media Makers Choose McCain Over Obama

New America Media, News Report, Ekaterina Basilaia Posted: Jun 05, 2008

Editor's Note: Now that Hillary Clinton is out of the running for president of the United States, Russian American media makers say that their communities might favor John McCain for his tough stance on Russia and his international experience. Ekaterina Basilaia is a contributor to New America Media.

As the dramatic battle for the Democratic presidential nominee draws to a close, Russian-speaking media from across the nation weigh in on whom their vote will go towards now that Hillary Clinton is out of the picture.

Ari Kagan, senior editor of Vecherniy New York (Evening New York), says he was supporting Clinton.

I voted for Hillary, he says. She knows about big politics. She has experience through her own knowledge, and also through her husbands career.

Kagan thinks that since the Russian-speaking community (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and other representatives of the post-Soviet world) in the United States is more on the conservative to moderate side of the political spectrum, their votes will now primarily go to John McCain. Obamas lack of tangible international experience seems to be a big detractor with this community across the board.

According to Kagan, the readership of Vecherniy New York was also extensively supporting Clinton.

She showed her interest in solving social problems of Russian-speaking immigrants, he said. Russian-speaking immigrants do not know much about Barack Obama. He did not initiate any meeting with them in New York, where there is the one of biggest communities throughout the United States.

Though Kagan does not explicitly address whether or not the Russian community might be prejudiced against Obama because of his race, he does say: There are stereotypes working, of course, and people with prejudices get affected. Immigrants from the Russian-speaking countries are not an exception.

He goes on to say: The only thing [Russian American people] know about Obama comes from the media, consequently their perceptions are limited. They will back a person who they know and with whose work and experience they are familiar.

Kagan says he is a Democrat however, he is not sure if he will vote for Obama come November.

McCain and George W. Bush, though both are Republicans, are not the same, Kagan says about his consideration of McCain. McCain would have the right priorities as he is much better versed in politics, in relations with Russia and knowledge about Russia and Eastern Europe.

Kagan questions Obamas knowledge of world politics, in particular about Russia and Eastern Europe.

Leah Moses, one of the editors of New York-based Russkaya Reklama (Russian Advertisement), is also disappointed with Clintons failure to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

I would like to vote for Clinton. I think she is a balanced person, and at the same time she knows when there is a necessity to be tough. She can lead the United States any time, and she also has liberal approach to social problems. And, above all, maybe because she is a woman, Moses said.

Now that Clinton is out of the race, Moses said she might not vote for any of the remaining candidates Obama or McCain.

There are people in the Russian American community that cross party lines, and many Russian Democrats may vote for McCain, she said.

But Moses thinks that Obama would be better than McCain when it comes to U.S.-Russian relations, because he can lead more rational politics.

It is well known that McCain is extremely critical of Russia, Moses added. And that is why some Russian Americans like McCain, because he is so tough on Russia.

Editor of the San Francisco-based Russian publication Kstati (To the Point), Janna Sundeyeva thinks the neither of the options are that good but she supports McCain.

Unfortunately, we decide not what we would like to choose, but whatever is available, and in this case, I would most likely vote for McCain, Sundeyeva said. She went on to say that she doesnt trust Obama.

He is educated, but at the same time, I see him as a racist full of anti-American tendencies, Sundeyeva said, referring to the Rev. Wright controversy.

Despite the fact that Sundeyeva does not approve of McCains stance on Russia, she believes that it will eventually change after McCain becomes president.

The life and presidential experience will lead him to be milder with Russia. Russia is an enormous country with enormous resources, she said.

But not all the Russian media makers interviewed are anti-Obama. Staff writer of Novoye Russkoye Slovo (New Russian Word), Oleg Sulkin, said he didnt vote in the primaries because he couldnt decide on the candidate he wanted as a future leader of the United States.

Im leaning more to the Democrats, but I couldnt make choice between Obama and Clinton. Clintons strength was that a lot of her campaign was devoted to the healthcare system. As for Obama, he still has to prove his expertise as a political leader. He sounds convincing, and looks confident, but we need more actions rather than words, Sulkin said.

As for the November 2008 elections, Sulkin thinks he still has to observe the two nominees. He thinks McCains experience gives him an edge, but also is open to Obama.

Obamas priority is that he is a newcomer he is a new face. If anything, he will be different from the hideous politics led by the current administration, Sulkin stated.

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