How will Russia’s Relationship with Brazil Fare if Bolsonaro is Elected President?

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Sunday’s presidential elections in Brazil, probably even more polarized than in 1989, were hotly debated at the base of the Valdai club in central Moscow.

The debate, hosted by the Valdai discussion club, founded in 2004 to promote open dialogue between politicians, experts and journalists from various fields, was attended by both analysts and representatives of public entities on both sides, as well as students and correspondents of different media.

In giving impetus to the discussion, the director of the Latin American Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksandr Schetinin, insisted that it was not intended to interfere in the internal affairs of the country or to make any hasty assessments, but first reflect on the future of the bilateral relationship between Moscow and Brasilia.

“I wanted to avoid deep political assessments, […] today is a remarkable date, since yesterday we celebrate 190 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. At the time Emperor Nicholas I signed a directive on the appointment of the first diplomat sent from Russia to Brazil … and, by the way, Brazil became the first state in Latin America with which we celebrate a formal diplomatic relationship,” said Schetinin.

The diplomat also stressed that Russia, in turn, is engaged in bilateral cooperation, regardless of the processes taking place within the country.

“I wanted to speak from the beginning, and to establish our position very clearly: we are interested in a strong and independent Brazil, with a high global responsibility, with a constructive and independent role in the international arena, “said the high representative, recalling the Russian side’s support for Brazilian initiatives in international bodies, such as a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Moreover, in the course of the discussion the diplomat observed that the tendency formed in the Russian-Brazilian bilateral interaction demonstrates the continuity in the foreign policy, that is, the factor of continuity was always something constant for Brazil, independently of the succeeding regimes.

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“Great countries [like Brazil] have constant policies that, in fact, are the product of a broad agreement among the people and the elites. We believe that there are such constants in Brazil, of course there are stylistic nuances, interests of the country, “he said.

When questioned about the fact that the international agenda is absent from the candidate’s agenda, and if this can be considered a failure, the Brazilian specialist in Latin American affairs, a professor at the Moscow International Relations University (MGIMO ), Lyudmila Okuneva, stressed that this is a very characteristic feature of Brazilian political reality.

“The thing is that, by tradition, the issues of international politics in the Brazilian elections are in the background. The only case in which these matters were discussed in anyway happened during the 2014 elections, in the second round between Dilma Rousseff and Aécio Neves. There were issues raised by the BRICS, so Neves criticized them and appealed for an exit from the block. I will not say if this is good or bad, this is a tradition for Brazil,” he assured.

In modest reflections on the electoral process in Brazil, Aleksandr Schetinin said that, in his opinion, it is useful to move away from the formed narrative of electoral polarization between left and right and to reflect even on other indicators.

“Brazil is known as a country of highly developed federalism, hence there are large financial-economic elites that are formed on the basis of certain regions and states. Haddad, for example, represents the so-called São Paulo elite, that is, from Sao Paulo. But there are still groups from Rio and others, which is also an important aspect, and I think that this factor will be one of the most significant. Pay attention also not to the index of support to either candidate, but to their rejection rate. In general, these data give us a better understanding of the further development of the situation,” he said.

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