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Russian Newspapers Declare 2016 Debate Win for Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump

by Alexey Eremenko /  / Updated 
Image: Hillary Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters after the first presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in Westbury, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016.Matt Rourke / AP

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MOSCOW — Russia's newspapers and news websites declared Hillary Clinton the winner of Monday's presidential debate.

"Clinton leapfrogs Trump in the first round of televised debates," ran a headline in Moskovsky Komsomolets, Russia's most popular daily newspaper on Tuesday.

Another verdict, on Russian business news website RBC.ru, declared that Trump had "failed to present himself ... as a serious presidential candidate who knows his facts and has a well thought-out program."

Related: Why Russians Like Donald Trump (Sort of)

Both candidates commented on Russia during the 90-minute verbal bout: Clinton again accusing Moscow of hacking the Democrat’s servers, Trump claiming Moscow's nuclear arsenal was newer than Washington's.

But neither of these remarks provoked much reaction from the Russian press, with most outlets sticking to broader commentaries and factual reporting of the candidates' policy points.

While many newspaper headlines reported a Clinton victory, however, Russia's top three Kremlin-controlled television channels remained neutral. Channel One, Rossiya-1 and NTV, which serve as the country's main source of information, simply reported the debate was heated while refraining from giving favor to either candidate.

Trump has spoken favorably about Russian President Vladimir Putin during his campaign, as well as inviting Russia to find and release Clinton’s emails — later claiming he was joking.

Related: Six Key Moments of the First Presidential Debate

For her part, Clinton has accused Russia of trying to interfere with the election, even suggesting that alleged hacks by Moscow were designed to bolster Trump’s campaign.

Russian officials did not comment on the debate, with a foreign ministry spokesman telling NBC News that Moscow would not weigh in on U.S. affairs.

When NBC News asked a dozen people on the streets of Moscow who they thought won six said Trump, two Clinton, and two were undecided.

"I have a positive opinion about him," said 27-year-old bank clerk Ilya Knyazev. "I think he is more positive about our country than the other candidate."

Trump's popularity in Russia comes as no surprise. In April, the pollster YouGov asked 20,000 adults across the G20 countries to name their preferred candidate. Russia was the only nation when the Republican nominee came out on top — and by 21 percentage points.

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