By Tatyana Orel
– Igor Vilenovich, what is actually Putin’s new national idea?
– As a matter of fact, it is a very old idea – common fascism. People may disagree: there is no mass terror towards dissidents in Russia, there is no total state control over mass media so far, some of them are still more or less independent, besides there is Internet. But Putin snapped his fingers and the war in Ukraine broke out, the same way he can snap his fingers and mass arrests will begin. He thinks that he does not need to tighten the screw now in order not to strip the thread. But if something turns in his brain, he can easily change his mind. Of course, Russia is not Nazi Germany so far, but it already looks like Italy under Mussolini or, say, Spain under Franco.
– It means that it is useful to read your book "New National Idea of Putin" not only to Russians, but also to everyone who is under threat of Putin’s "common" fascism…
– The book has been published recently in small number of copies, maybe, it has not been noticed and has not been forbidden yet. I am looking for a publisher in Ukraine – not only because it is in my interests as an author. I consider that Ukrainians need to have better understanding what Putin's regime is that threatens them. It is close to fascism in many respects – nationalist ideology, aggressive foreign policy, xenophobia.
– You have made an interesting discovery, having found exact parallels with today's events in Donbass in Eduard Limonov's article "The Scenario of Armed Conflict" published many years ago and later included in his book "Anatomy of the Hero". Is it a coincidence or has Putin been realizing a prepared scenario?
– I do not think that Putin has read Limonov and, especially, took his idea. The essence of Limonov’s plan is how to provoke revolution in Russia through the war in Ukraine. It is unlikely that Putin wants it. Today, many accuse Limonov of sings in unison with the government. But it does not mean that Limonov has sold himself to the government, but rather that the power "caught up" with him and matched his old nationalist views. Putin was brainwashed with imperial slops when he was at the Soviet KGB school where he was drummed hatred to the West and to the USA. This national patriotic dust sat down in his brains, but was not revealed for a long time.
With each presidential term, Putin felt more and more self-assured, and now he has decided that his time has come. And it turned out that Putin caught up with Limonov who did not go anywhere and did not change his principles. It turned out that they think by the same categories. But there is a very important point. Limonov directly described war in Ukraine not as an unnatural phenomenon, as a result of provocation. He suggested throwing corpses from mortuaries in a hole, bringing journalists, telling stories about girls killed by "evil Ukrainians" if not crucified boys. That is first to create the picture, and then to adjust the reality. It may be that someone from Putin’s surrounding, for example, Surkov, a famous bibliophile and misanthrope, could have read Limonov and taken his idea, trying to realize it in our time.
– You are a cousin of the Russian oppositionist Boris Nemtsov. Do your political views coincide in everything?
– Not in everything, but they have very much in common regarding the present situation in Ukraine. But I did not like the fact that his criticism actually helped Victor Pinchuk and his team to push Yulia Tymoshenko from the post of the prime minister.
– Another Russian oppositionist, Alexei Navalny, disappointed Ukrainians with the statement that the Crimea will forever remain Russian. Do you think that he sincerely considers so?
– It is easier to me to speak about Navalny. I think that he is trying to play real politics, longing for a serious political career, maybe, even aiming at the highest governmental positions. Maybe, not in a year or two, but definitely in the future. If he tells, "I support giving the Crimea to Ukraine…"
–... pardon, not giving, but returning…
– That's the point that the Russian electorate will interpret return of the Crimea as giving. As soon as Navalny re-appears on the political stage, people remember that he virtually wants to cut off a piece of Russia with "sheep scissors". That is how it will be interpreted. Though Navalny actually admitted that annexation of the Crimea is an international crime.
But he cannot go further and call for the return of the Crimea to Ukraine. Many Russian citizens who were in a way traumatized by the collapse of the Soviet empire, are sincere in their patriotic hysteria, and they would not forgive Navalny his honest position concerning the Crimea.
– You called trilateral peace agreements a "useless scrap of paper". However, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU calls to carry out another stage of negotiations concerning settlement of the conflict in the east of Ukraine. Do you consider that the West does not understand that Putin actually cheats on all negotiators?
– As I live in Germany, I partially understand the mentality of the western people. There has been a pathological fear of cataclysms since World War II. They believed that they can live on in peace, and nothing will ever change. But here it appeared suddenly that there is a real monster beside them, who is absolutely unpredictable who has ideas of the world of a century ago, who, besides, has nuclear weapon and a very big army, and who can destroy the safe life of Europe by one movement.
Therefore, the West is definitely ready for everything just to keep this bear in his den. Actually, the West is Putin's hostage and will certainly not fight against him. And if we assume that, for example, Putin will take Kiev tomorrow, God forbid, the West will react with no more than a new stage of sanctions. I do not want war either, I have two little daughters. But it is only war that can harness Putin.
– If sanctions are not enough and war is nearly a doomsday, what can influence the monster Putin?
– Sanctions against Russian criminal elite. All the Russian political elite are criminals, even according to the Russian legislation, especially according to the western standards. I have worked as a political consultant for a long time, I communicated with many people from this milieu. All of them violate the law of the country on money laundering and on involvement of state officials in business. They at all have assets in the West.
The first example that occurred to me is the mayor of my home town, Nizhny Novgorod, – Oleg Sorokin. His wife, one of the richest women of Russia, builds real estate on the plots allocated by her husband. And the son of the Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matviyenko happened to be a billionaire. Naturally, these families have considerable assets in Europe. The West could declare them criminals and arrest not only foreign assets of the officials, but also real estate and bank accounts of all members of their families and persons affiliated with them. It would be a real disaster for the representatives of the Russian elite. Then they would take Putin out of Kremlin with his feet foremost. These measures would help to harness Putin’s aggression.
– It is really better than war. Why has not the West used this peaceful plan for destroying Putin?
– Imagine that, for example, England, where a lot of Russian money is circulating, will arrest all the property of the Russian swindlers. The prices for the elite real estate (and much more) will drop by many times immediately. Loss of "wild" Russian money is not favorable for England. Besides, the Western countries respect even thieves' private property, if only these are foreign thieves. It is legally well protected. Though if war begins, everything will be arrested. But why wait for war – after all, it can be made now. Peace is more important.
– "Europeans are not quite aware of the threat they face", the Russian political scientist Andrey Piontkovsky once said. "If Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, the Baltic States will be the next", and then Europe…
– If Putin is not stopped now in the east of Ukraine, he will have to be caught in a mental institution because he obviously has a progressive megalomania. He felt superman who is allowed everything. Putin does not respect his western partners, treating them weaklings as they adhere to some rules, while he is scum with KGB background. Criminals and security officers have no constraining rules. They take by force only.
How did Lenin write about Stalin? "He concentrated immense power in his hands". The same about Putin. Nobody from his surroundings could even dare suggest: say, let us take the Crimea, or let us attack Donbass. Putin is proud that it is his personal initiative. And it is impossible to predict what will happen next, as it is impossible to predict actions of an inadequate person with nuclear weapon in hands.
– The famous Ukrainian psychiatrist Tina Beradze considers that Putin is more than adequate, which is even more dangerous. She is surprised that nobody spoke about his inadequacy when he did to her native Georgia what he is doing to Ukraine now…
– I do not want to offend our Georgian friends, but the situation in Georgia was radically different from the situation in Ukraine. The conflict between Abkhazians, Ossetians and Georgians goes deep into centuries. Presently, the Yeltsin government played the provocative role in it because it actively supported Abkhazia in its war against Georgia; Shamil Basayev used to fight there, and he worked for the Russian intelligence services. There was no age-old conflict in Donbass. It was initially provoked by Russia. But for the Russian provocations, Russian promises, seditious appeals, Russian weapon and Russian agents, there would be no serious conflict in the east of Ukraine.
– But how quickly Putin reacted, nagging at the careless cancellation of "the language law" by the Verkhovna Rada soon after the victory on Maidan, when Ukraine was having such a difficult time. On March 16, Russia initiated the unlawful referendum in the Crimea, and a week later, Putin agents gathered pro-Russian demonstrations in Donbass …
– The Crimea became the first step on Putin’s way of realizing his KGB and imperial "missions". Besides, he wanted to go down in history as a tsar who returned the Crimea – the so-called Putin the Tauric. Speaking about the East of Ukraine, the so-called Donbass elite, "minor elite", I would tell, including Yanukovych’s and Akhmetov's environment, had been working for the Kremlin for a very long time. They were not given an order to start the fuss. If, figuratively speaking, there had been a fight in Georgia and a third party, that is Russia, just got involved, there had been no fight in Donbass at all. It was provoked there, and then they starting shouting: "Oh, they beat us!" This is a banal instigation punished by the Criminal code.
– What do you think Ukraine should do with the occupied territories of Donbass?
– Understanding the difficult situation that the Ukrainian government is now in, I do not dare give any advice. But it must be kept in mind that the Russian foreign policy is based on the same criminal principles as the internal policy: lie, violence, intimidation, provocations. Putin is a criminal security officer who adopted the traditions of the underworld. He and his surroundings behave as a gang on the international stage trying to expand the territory where all the dupes have to pay duty. Deception is thieves' valor for Putin, therefore, his no single word in negotiations can be trusted.
Why are the Minsk accords so important for him? He tries to impose his pirate republics on Ukraine. Not only he manipulates them to wage war, he also wants Ukraine to feed them. It is a real criminal trick.
– And he cheated not only the Ukrainian government, but also inhabitants of the territories with the special status who believed in the promises of the pro-Russian terrorists and who will remain without means for living now that the Ukrainian government stopped paying pensions there.
– As a sociologist, I can say that people’s own material and social problems are much more important than politics for them. If Ukraine does not serve the budget of these republics, people will soon drive the bandits away.
– Believe, there is military power in the occupied territories. And the conversation with rebellions is very short: get under the barrel and to the cellar …
– But practice shows that it is very hard to manage the population that does not support the government. Undoubtedly, it is not so easy to overthrow this gangster junta in the east of Ukraine. But if they lose support of the population, they will not last long themselves. Though bandits enjoy support so far.
– You wrote in one of your blogs that an informal movement of "Russian jihad", as you called it, was formed in Russia, and that Girkin-Strelkov, who until recently was the chief commander of the terrorists in Donbass and demonstrated himself during the attacks at the Crimea, was part of it. Survey of the Echo of Moscow showed that this character was ahead of Putin in the presidential rating. It turns out that Putin has raised a dangerous aggressive fanatic and provided him with a proving ground for warming-up in the Crimea and in Donbass, from where Girkin returned to Russia with fanaticism. It is unlikely that he will remain idle …
– The Russian jihad do not differ much from the Islamic aggressive radicals hating all the world around. They may also include orthodox fundamentalists, Nazis, Stalinists, and Limonov’s national Bolsheviks – all of them are united by hatred to the West and imperial ambitions. Maniacs like Girkin, Prokhanov or Dugin need only war. I do not think that they are very popular with the Russians, but they are popular with officials at the highest levels, with former security officers who were brought up based on the anti-western demagogy. These people certainly support jihadists and will use them in case of any internal conflict, which can make the Russian regime even more radical and dangerous.
– After the "cold shower" that Putin had at G20 summit in Australia, he will become even more lonesome and angered. Does the whole world have to guess his mood with even more caution?
– The attitude of the world community towards Putin will become tougher as new information on his crimes in Ukraine will appear. There will be increased pressure of the public opinion, mass media, human rights activists on the governments of the democratic countries with the requirements to cease any affairs with Putin. His visit to the summit resembled visit of a distant relative suffering from leprosy in the ultimate stage to someone's wedding. He is not driven away from the hall. It is politically incorrect – he is a sick person after all. Everybody gives a forced smile, trying to sit him as far as possible, somewhere at a separate little table in a dark corner of the hall; everybody tries to avoid him. With such an attitude, Putin will be physically unable to represent Russia on the world stage. It is quite probable that it will become a fatal problem for his ruling.
P. S. Publishers who are interested in the book "New National Idea of Putin" can write to the author at [email protected]