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Russians Watch U.S. Presidential Election With Mix of Curiosity, Fascination, ApprehensionAired November 1, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: American voters will decide who lives in the White House come January, but interest in the race extends far beyond U.S. shores, apparently.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Sure enough. In Russia, the race is being watched with a mix of curiosity, fascination and a little apprehension.
Here's CNN's Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Gore or Bush? Just like voters in the U.S., Russians who listen to Echo of Moscow Radio are seemingly split down the middle. But here, they've turned the U.S. presidential election into a real contest. As the station's Web site explains, whoever guesses the winner, and by what percentage, is awarded $1,000 in rubles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING RUSSIAN)
DOUGHERTY: The radio spots make a pun out of the names. In Russian, gorbushka means "crust of bread." It's also the name of Moscow's famous outdoor market where pirated videos and CDs are available cheap.
SERGEI BUNTMAN, ECHO OF MOSCOW RADIO (through translator): Some people might say, oh, we don't care, we're interested in what's going on in our own country. But even the so-called isolationists in Russia can't help keeping an eye on what's happening in America.
DOUGHERTY: Russian politicians and political observers, too, are split over which candidate would be best for Russia.
IVAN SAFRONCHOUK, POLITICAL ANALYST: Some people say that the new wave will be better for Russian-U.S. relations because we will be able to open a new page in our relations and start everything from the very beginning.
DOUGHERTY: Some in Russia's government would prefer the "known quantity" of Al Gore to the "new wave" of George W. Bush, especially on arms control issues. ALEXEI ARBATOV, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: There's this radical change of pattern which existed for 30 years, would be very difficult for Russia to adopt to and to digest.
DOUGHERTY: Some communist legislators want to go to the U.S. as election observers. Hardly any country, they say, is less democratic than the U.S.
GEORGY TIKHONOV, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER (through translator): In American democracy, only a person who can raise millions of dollars can join the government.
DOUGHERTY: At Moscow's Old Arbat, they're still selling Bill Clinton Matrioshka dolls. But in a sure sign of capitalist entrepreneurship, they'll make a Gore or Bush doll if there's a buyer.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.
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