Russia's Putin loves Donald Trump

Donald Trump has said that as president he would get along with Vladimir Putin, and there's evidence that the Republican frontrunner's apparent fondness for the Russian strongman is being reciprocated.

Kremlin mouthpiece Konstantin Rykov said Wednesday in a Twitter post that Trump won the first Democratic presidential debate, held Tuesday in Las Vegas. In that tweet, Rykov linked to a Russian language, pro-Trump website with a Russian domain, www.Trump2016.ru, that he is likely behind. Until a few weeks ago, Rykov's Twitter home page featured Trump and his 2016 campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."

Western sources who monitor Russian politics told the Washington Examiner that Rykov is a propagandist arm of the Putin government machine. "Rykov is considered to be one of the leading pro-Kremlin bloggers in Russia," said Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama who is now a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution think tank. "As you can see from his Twitter feed, he is very active. And he loves Trump."

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Another source described Rykov as a "chief voice and troll for the Kremlin on Twitter."

Rykov is a media entrepreneur who has worked in Russian media and launched technology firms that are connected to the Kremlin. He has been closely associated with the Russian government under Putin and ex-president Dmitry Medvedev, and served briefly in Russia's parliament. Although his social media activities aren't strictly Kremlin-related, sources say he doesn't contradict Putin, and his online commentary on international politics serve as a reliable indicator of the Russian president's opinions and preferences.

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