Did Russia Criticize the U.N. for Condemning Donald Trump?
On Friday, in an interview with the Associated Press, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations told of an episode that could prove to further the theory that Donald Trump has some sort of ties to the Kremlin. Vitaly Churkin, the ambassador, said that he lodged an aggressive complaint to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 13 about negative comments made by the U.N. human rights commissioner in April. Essentially, a top Russian diplomat went to bat for Trump.
During a speech in Cleveland in April, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights decried the “bigotry” of Trump, and the dangerous road his positions might pave: “Less than 150 miles away from where I speak, a front-running candidate to be president of this country declared, just a few months ago, his enthusiastic support for torture,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner, said, referencing Trump’s pro-waterboarding remarks in Ohio in November 2015.
Churkin told the AP that Zeid’s criticisms of several European politicians–particularly far-right ones who are stoking anti-immigrant fears–as well as Trump, were out of bounds. “Prince Zeid is overstepping his limits from time to time and we’re unhappy about it,” Churkin said. “He should stick to his file, which is important enough.”
Russia formally rebuking negative comments made about a U.S. politician is unusual enough, but given the fact that Moscow seems to have a stake in Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in November, Churkin’s actions are especially interesting.
Clinton’s senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan weighed in on the Kremlin’s latest favor for Trump: “This is not only strange – it’s scary,” he said. “A major party candidate for the presidency of the United States is being protected by the Kremlin. Wow.”
Trump’s relationship with Moscow has been questioned since he started praising Russian President Vladimir Putin. He suggested Russia hack whatever they could of Clinton’s deleted emails she sent from a private server while she was secretary of state. And he has also questioned NATO, a key check on the Kremlin’s power in Europe, hinting that the bloc could see less U.S. involvement if he were president.
While Russia steadfastly denies playing favorites in the election, it is hard to imagine a top Russian diplomat would defend any criticism of Clinton.