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US protests subside, but it’s too early to say they are over - Russian expert

The analyst said that the protest movement might become a yet another dividing line in the ongoing election campaign

MOSCOW, July 4. /TASS/. Although the current protests in the United States subsided lately, it’s too early to say they are over as their root causes remain in place, Director-General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrei Kortunov told TASS.

"Naturally, it would be too early to say that the protest movement is over, because the root causes remain in place. Those causes, in fact, are social rather than racial. Those are the issues of social inequality, polarization, fragmentation of the US society, which is reflected in the political struggle which is now under way there," he said.

"Although the street protest activity has subsided, some new incidents cannot be ruled out - possibly in other forms and with different participants - because the problems remain unsolved," he said. "Saying that the issue has been dealt with would be premature at best."

In Kortunov’s opinion, it would be too early to make any predictions on the outcome of the protests, because "a lot depends on what happens on November 3 [the day of presidential election in the United States]."

The analyst said that the protest movement might become a yet another dividing line in the ongoing election campaign.

"The left will become even more leftist, the right - even more rightist. Regretfully, the rift in the US society is most likely going to deepen, for the time being," he added.

"If [Joseph] Biden wins, we might see a revival of some principles of Barack Obama’s social policy: greater social benefits, and, apparently, greater tax burden on the rich. In other words, the national wealth will be redistributed for the benefit of the most vulnerable social groups. This will have its negative consequences, most likely in the form of problems at financial markets, and, possibly, with the economic growth," the analyst said.

He went on to say that if Donald Trump is re-elected, the US administration is most likely to continue his current policies.

"They commit themselves to economic growth, which, in the opinion of Trump and his team, is expected to mitigate social problems, because ‘the rising tide lifts all boats,’" Kortunov said.

He went on to say that Trump and Biden are fighting to win the support of about 20% of Americans, who have no clear political preferences.

"They can support the Republicans and the Democrats, depending on the situation and on how they evaluate certain measures taken by the country’s leadership," the expert said. "To a certain extent, Trump appears to have lost the support of this intermediary group."

"Of course, the protests, the coronavirus and the economic crisis made things more difficult for Trump and reduced his chance of being re-elected, but, at the same time, it would be too early to ‘put Trump out of commission,’ so to speak. Still, everything can change," he continued.

"The incumbent president always has a huge number of levers, which he can use to turn the tide for his benefit, especially given the fact that his opponent, to put it mildly, is far from being the most charismatic politician ever, and has lots of vulnerable spots," Kortunov said. "Yes, the balance of forces has shifted, but I would not speak of Trump’s defeat in November with certainty."

Mass protests and unrest began in many parts of the United States following the death of Afro-American George Floyd. During his arrest on May 25 the police used excessive force. All four officers who participated in that operation were dismissed and faced official charges. The US National Guard was commissioned to help local law enforcers restore order. Nighttime curfew had to be imposed in about 40 cities, including Washington and New York.

Later, protesters in some US cities started taking down monuments to historic personalities, including to the leaders of Confederate States of America that united southern slave-owning states during the US Civil War (1861-1865). Moreover, a few statues of Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator who is known for discovering America, were pulled down as well.