By Natalya Dvali, Editor
The Russian businessman and politician, former deputy of the State Duma, chairman of the Western Choice party Konstantin Borovoi is one of those whom Russian President Vladimir Putin regards a traitor to his country. Numerous statements of Borovoi, his loyalist Valeriya Novodvorskaya and many other Russians is another are another proof that Putin’s regime is not as monolithic as it may seem.
Borovoi is convinced that the Russian president’s rating of 84 per cent does not prove a thing; the system may collapse in just few days. Konstantin Natanovich told the GORDON how and on what condition.
– I congratulate you as a Russian citizen on the addition: Putin granted Russian citizenship to the fugitive Ukrainian politicians Viktor Yanukovych, Nikolay Azarov and Viktor Pshonka.
– I have not the least doubt that it was legally necessary. Otherwise, Russia would formally have to extradite Yanukovych, Azarov and Pshonka to Ukraine. However, according to the Russian laws, criminals may not be extradited in one single case – if they are Russian citizens. Now the question is solved.
– Why does Putin need Yanukovych – he is a political discard?
– The phrase “discard” was said in relation to very many politicians at different times, but these actors then came to the surface and turned into trumps. For example, I myself remember at least a dozen times when Mikhail Gorbachev made trumps out of discards and the other way around. There is a multitude of similar examples, I will not even waste time enumerating them.
So it is not all over with Viktor Fedorovych yet. Considering the powerful Russian intelligence network still working in Ukraine, guys like Yanukovych, Azarov and Pshonka can return to the ruling top tens of times.
– Did not the Ukrainian government and society begin clearing out the Russian agents step by step after the triumph of Maidan?
– They did not even start! Serious Kremlin intelligence has been working in Ukraine throughout the period of independent Ukraine. It has been working everywhere: in the army, in the security services and so on. Most of Ukrainian structures are not just demoralized – they are actually liquidated.
Ukraine now is at the very start of exposing and neutralizing Russian agents. It may even seem to you that there are none. Kremlin undermining activities are blurred at the background of the mess in Donbass, but they are still there. As soon as the situation calms down in the East you will see a well-structured pro-Putin force at the higher political echelons of your country, and it will hinder democratic and independent development of Ukraine. This force will be very well financed and supported by some seemingly objective Ukrainian mass media.
You have difficult work ahead, you should immediately create a new security system, both political and informational.
– What other politicians besides obviously pro-Russian members of the Party of Regions play on Putin’s side?
– They are very many, some of them stand for the elections to the Verkhovna Rada.
– Announce the whole list, please…
– No, I beg pardon, deal with it yourselves.
I have talked much to the former Prime Minister and ex-Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia Vano Merabishvili. He told me about the titanic work the Georgian authorities did under Saakashvili in order to expose Russian intelligence network. It took Merabishvili and his team almost seven years. All the same, Georgian reformers have lost (new Georgian government arrested Merabishvili on charges of corruption. Ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili was sentenced for official embezzlement in his absence. – GORDON). They have lost because their opponents were the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation, Federal Security Service, foreign intelligence, and they had incomparably larger financial, technical and human resources.
Try to understand that it was only in the USSR that the propaganda was dull and straightforward. The Kremlin acts in a much more ingenious and refined way. Both in Russia and Ukraine and in the West.
– But there are plenty of alternative information sources in the West, the notion of objective journalism is inviolable. What refined Kremlin propaganda are you talking about?
– I am now in the USA and I see a completely pro-Putin article appear in the local press; it puts the cart before the horse all over: say, America ought not to interfere in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, otherwise it will aggravate everything as it happened in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Do you know about regular anti-Ukrainian demonstrations in the West? There has just been such a demonstration in London. Something similar took place in the USA and even in Canada though absolutely ukrainophilic as it may seem! The Kremlin finances anti-Ukrainian demonstrations in the West, and the declamations appear to come from the Russian TV channels: ‘A fascist-banderist regime reigns in Kiev’.
– Do these paid actions really influence the public opinion in the West?
– Yes, very much. For example, many Russians and Ukrainians live in Los Angeles. I have held my own little investigation and found out how strong the anti-Ukrainian component is here. I have even written an article for Echo of Moscow; to my surprise, it was passed by the censor and published on the radio station web-site.
According to my observations, rather successful, established and well-off people engage in pro-Putin propaganda in America. They are Russians who became US citizens long ago. One would think why the need this. Nonetheless, they engage in propaganda and quite successfully. Moreover, some of them write letters to the Federal Security Service informing who is engaged in anti-Russian activity. This is the real intelligence network. Probably, they were recruited not only using money but also through compromising evidence – I do not know, I only state the obvious.
– If Kremlin secret service is so effective both in Russia and in the West, are not you afraid of giving an interview to the Ukrainian edition?
– On the contrary, I am glad that there is free press outside Russia. There is nothing of it left in the territory of Russia.
– How about Echo of Moscow, Dozhd television channel, Novaya Gazeta?..
– Talks about oppositional mass media in Russia are lies. There are none. None at all. Putin sticks to the principle of absolute and total control over everything. It is evident from the example of the Russian opposition. The allegedly oppositional mass media you enumerated are strictly controlled by the Kremlin. Sometimes very strictly.
– Prove it.
– The Kremlin allows Echo, Dozhd and Novaya Gazeta to exist for several reasons, the main of which is to imitate free press. This story began in 2001 when the idea of controllable (actually decorative) democracy emerged. The idea was gradually implemented: one supposedly independent and oppositional radio station, one TV channel, one newspaper. Everything is dosed out and controllable.
Every “oppositional” mass media has a list of unwanted persons. As a matter of fact, an official sits in the Kremlin and decides who can speak at Echo of Moscow or Dozhd and who cannot. Sindeeva herself (Natalia Sindeeva, media manager, founder of the Dozhd TV channel. – GORDON) gives it away in a funny way: say, we would readily follow the Kremlin’s instructions if only it formulated them in a more precise manner.
– If Dozhd is a project of the Kremlin, why was it excluded from cable broadcasting, deprived of publicity money and pushed into the Internet?
– Because huge investment is needed to promote another national television channel. Dozhd’s trouble is not that it is oppositional but that it has no access to the milch cow of the state budget. The channel nearly cries: ‘We have done as you asked, we did not let the "wrong" people, and you shut off the financing’.
– To be fair, Dozhd, Echo and Novaya Gazeta objectively covered the Maidan revolution and Donbass events …
– Well, Valeriya Novodvorskaya also spoke at Echo of Moscow. However, her time was only a thousandth part of the station broadcast time. All the rest of time was occupied by Aleksandr Prokhanoc, Maksim Shevchenko and the likes…
– …and Viktor Shenderovich and Dmitry Bykov who are wittingly commenting Russian president’s decrees and resolutions of the State Duma.
– With all my respect to Viktor Anatolievich and Dmitry Lvovich, they are writers rather than politicians.
There is an effect in optics, when you do not see the object itself but its distorted image. For example, if you put mirrors around a lamp, you will see the reflection rather than the source of light. The same in Russia: you only see a fine game, imitation of free press and public discussions. Every time when a person with sensible views appears in the “oppositional” mass media, there appear several others who correct these views and divert the discussion in the opposite direction. This is refined propaganda.
– Are the leaders of the Russian opposition – the radical Alexei Navalny or the glamorous Kseniya Sobchak – also controlled by the Kremlin?
– There are no free mass media as well as no opposition as it is in Russia. The way it exists today seems marasmic.
When you mention Kseniya Sobchal as one of the “oppositional” leaders, you should understand: there is an interest, there are old connections, there is the mother (Anatoly Sobchak’s widow Lyudmila Narusova, ex-deputy of the State Duma, former Chairperson of the Information Policy Committee. – GORDON). When Kseniya was confiscated two million euros, the decision to give the money back was made by one person – Vladimir Putin, an old friend of the Sobchaks (On June 12, 2012 Russian policemen searched Kseniya’s Sobchak apartment. The reason for the search were personal relationships between Sobchak and the oppositioner Ilya Yashin who was living in her apartment. A large sum of money was confiscated as a result of the search. – GORDON). Speaking about Kseniya, you need not even be the Kremlin’s agent and write reports to the Federal Security Service, you can just be dependent on the system.
Note that no matter how Kseniya might criticize the current regime, she inevitably comes to a decision that, anyway, the Russians have nobody to choose from, there is no alternative to Putin. How loyal to the Russian president she must be to say this!
– Let’s leave Sobchak. But Navalny who regularly publishes headline-making investigations on the corruption of Russian official...
– Navalny regularly took part in the anti-Semitic Russian March (annual demonstrations of Russian nationalist organizations and movements timed to the Day of National Unity on 4 November. – GORDON).
It is beyond me that the nationalist Navalny scored almost one third of votes at the elections for the mayor of Moscow! And this in multinational Moscow! How fooled people must be to vote like this. It is absurd, but it is well-thought-of absurd aimed at discrediting the opposition and destroying it from inside.
Navalny is a recurrence of the Khinshtein’s story (Alexander Khinshtein, Russian journalist famous for his anti-corruption articles. Now deputy of the State Duma, member of Putin’s United Russia faction. – GORDON). Khinshtein reached the top of the “oppositional” activity and then turned out to be a Federal security Service provoker who published “headline-making” materials on sercret services’ direct instructions. In 1998-1999 when I was a deputy, I even forwarded a request to the secret service: "Why are you financing a journalist?"
– What was the reply?
– It was short: "We do nothing unlawful".
– Many people in Ukraine follow the steady fall prices for oil with unconcealed joy. It has been reported more than once that the Russian budget with the lion’s share of oil-roubles will crash down if “the black gold” will cost less than $100 per barrel.
– Believe me that a much more microscopic event than fall in prices for oil can destroy Putin’s regime. Remember what happened in the USSR on August 19, 1991with GKChP (State Committee on the State of Emergency (GKChP), self-proclaimed USSR authority acting on August 18-21, 1991; its members protested against the USSR President Gorbachev’s reforms and transformation of the Soviet Union into the Union of Sovereign States. – GORDON).
GKChP organizers wanted to consolidate communism power. The society was also weak and uncoordinated in 1991, but it demonstrated itself in the right time. We organized a huge march across the center of Moscow thus completely demoralizing GKChP. We hung the Russian tricolor on the White House on 21 August. There were around 300-400 people in front of the building who were protesting against the communist regime and GKChP.
– Is a 400-thousand-people march against the current regime possible in Moscow today? There will not be enough people, the Russian president enjoys great supported among the people.
– Putin may be proud of his 84% rating, but let me remind that the Communist Party’s rating in the last years of the USSR was 96%. Nevertheless, the regime collapsed in very few days. Almost the same is to take place in Russia. I repeat that any even the least significant event may destroy the Russian regime. Simply any! That is why Putin became more cautious.
It only seems that the majority of the Russian society supports the confrontation between the Russian government and the West. When you start speaking to people directly, they say quite the opposite. Putin’s efforts to reconstruct the USSR resulted, in particular, in restoration of the Soviet doublethink. People actively agree for the social surveys: "We love Putin and hate the West". In fact, nobody wants to see empty counters or to be devoid of computers, mobile phones, the Internet and other blessings of civilization.
– You say, "The society consolidated in the right time". When will the right time come in Russia?
– Russian power is growing every day weaker, it is obvious, though it continues its provocative and destructive activity. Putin’s main aim today is to slow down Western sanctions. He will do it in exchange of peace in Donbass. This option seems to satisfy Petro Poroshenko, too.
– How and when will the Russian-Ukrainian conflict end?
– It cannot last for long. The Kremlin has already realized that it will not manage to get consolidated in the East of Ukraine in the form of the so-called “people’s republics”. I think that the conflict will change from the open confrontation to guerilla war from both sides.
But Russia will not give back the Crimea. Never. If only the inhabitants of the peninsula start guerilla war themselves, or if the mainland Ukraine starts military actions to liberate the Crimea.
– On 7 October, Putin turns 62. Should you see meet him tête-a-tête, what would you wish the birthday boy?
– To recover his mental health. I think the whole world wishes Putin to do the same. It is obvious that a very morbid person could bring himself and his country into such a situation. Putin has made a trap for himself – because of his schizophrenia, paranoia and mental instability.
The whole world hopes that Putin will have a lucid moment at least before his death. But the longer it lasts the more obvious it becomes that the lucid moment will not help the patient. Russia can break the deadlock only if Putin is removed from office. Otherwise, there is no way out.