Something about the advent of Trump has stirred the Russian soul. It’s almost as though the 45th president of Russia were about to take office on Friday.
Businesses have renamed their products after the world leader formerly known as The Donald. Talk show hosts have dedicated hours to the expression of hope that Trump will lift U.S.-Russian relations from their all-time post-Cold-War low (and in some cases to nasty, unabashedly racist farewells to President Obama). And the Russian Internet is surging with efforts to portray and explain the local Trumpapalooza.
"Trumpomania has taken hold of the country: the media, politicians and political analysts, astrologists, and housewives, none of them can calm down and mind their business," Gennady Gudkov, a reserve colonel in Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, said in a post on his Facebook page. "In RUSSIAN news the main actor is His Majesty Trump."
Gudkov, who has spent recent years criticizing Putin’s hold on power, posited that the reason for Trump’s popularity is “how interesting honest and competitive elections and their unpredictability are.”
But Viktoria Chekryzhova, director for development of Tula Food Products, had a simpler explanation for her company’s decision to produce a limited number of boxes of sugar cubes featuring Trump’s likeness.
“With this product, we want to show that we hope that our relations with the United States will improve with the new president. We’re saying we hope our relations will become sweeter,” she said by phone from Tula, a city a 100 miles south of Moscow.
Other Russian companies have joined in. The newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that it had discovered "several hundred" companies that include some sort of play on words on "Trump" (which in Russian is transcribed "Tramp"; Russian "Trump" would sound like "Troomp).
A weapons factory in Zlatoust minted a commemorative coin with the inscription "In Trump We Trust," according to the TASS news agency.
In Moscow, a military surplus store across from the U.S. Embassy had an advertisement in its window offering a 10 percent discount on all its items — for embassy staff and American citizens.
“It looks very emotional, like a childish burst of joy,” Mikhail Fishman, editor in chief of the Moscow Times, commented about the ongoing fascination with Trump.
Of course, the jubilation comes against the tumultuous backdrop of accusations of Russian cyberattacks first lodged by the Obama administration and the U.S. intelligence community (and recently acknowledged by Trump), as well as uncorroborated reports — which Trump has vehemently denied — that the president-elect has been compromised by Russian intelligence. Putin this week called the allegations an effort by Obama to sabotage his successor's legitimacy.
Some took that logic a bit further. Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, predicted a Trumpocalypse if Russia did not lend the president-elect a hand against forces that were lining up in the United States to overthrow him.
“Russia has to support Trump,” Markov wrote on his Facebook page. “We have to help him publicly, with a campaign of Trumpomania.”
Russia’s major news programs lined up hours of Trump coverage: A viewer of the state-run Rossiya-1 channel got four hours of American politics, full of vitriol aimed at Obama, disdain for the allegations against Russia and cautious optimism about Trump.
Dmitry Kiselyov, often referred to as the top Kremlin propagandist, dedicated most of his Sunday television show to decrying Obama as one of the worst leaders in world history, mixing in several racially tinged remarks. Obama was behind NATO’s encroachment on Russia, Obama orchestrated “coups d’etat” in Ukraine and Syria, and Obama blamed it all on Putin, who was left to clean up the mess.
Now, Kiselyov said, this “technology of lies” was being used against Trump. He cited the unverified dossier on the Kremlin’s alleged blackmail of Trump, which is thought to have been composed by a former MI6 agent.
"This is an English plot against the elected president of the U.S.," Kiselyov said. "Now that is interference in American politics!"
Natalya Abbakumova contributed to this report.