“Putin wants to force the West to go meet him”

The founder of the Moscow Institute of national strategy Stanislav Belkovsky became famous for detailed reports on the oligarchs in the early 2000-ies, and today is a major political expert “Rain”, the only independent television channel in Russia.

Libération: How would you characterize Russian foreign policy?

Stanislav Belkovsky:
It is not about confrontation with the West, and confrontation with the aim to make the West love Russia. Do not forget that with the coming to power of Vladimir Putin, was pronounced Atlanticist and Pro-European views. But after a series of disappointments he had confidence that the West constantly lies to him. In the famous and notorious Munich speech in 2007, he warned: “We come with money, not with tanks, take us, until it was too late.” In 2013 -2014 years he has taken recent initiatives to attract the West: freed Khodorkovsky, Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists. In response he received a terrible insult: none of the world leaders arrived for the opening of the winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. What’s worse, in the same moment Kiev started the revolution on the Maidan, and, according to Putin, it was the Americans. Today the message has changed: “We come with tanks, as long as you agree to a reconciliation.”

— What will happen to Putin’s relationship with the White house?

— He won’t form an Alliance with the US against the EU. The only thing he like about trump is that he is anti-system candidate. However, in political terms, Putin is not waiting for anything good and no illusions. Actually Putin wants to find ground for agreement with the West. Russian operations in the middle East and Ukraine — not an end in itself but a means to force the West to act, to go to meet him. In addition, they define the spheres of influence, to show that the post-Soviet space should remain with Russia, as well as to soften the sanctions, if not to remove them.

— What are the prospects of settlement of the Ukrainian conflict?

The main obstacle is Ukraine itself. Came to power in Kiev in 2014, the elite underestimated the magnitude of their responsibility. Prospects of rapid EU integration lost. You first need to solve internal problems. Donbass will be a frozen conflict for an indefinite period. But Crimea will remain Russian… Because the majority of the Crimean population and the Russians will not accept his return to Ukraine. With regard to the recognition by the Kremlin of passports DND and LNR, is a fiction, a way to give confidence to the separatists. The annexation of these regions will not be because Putin does not see any benefit at all. At the same time, the war may resume at any time.

— Why marine Le Pen was the candidate of the Kremlin?

— Because it is anti-systemic position and are ready for politically incorrect steps like a trip to Russia for money to Finance campaigns. Is like Putin. But this does not mean that he does on her iPod. Putin is well aware that the coming to power of Le Pen would become a different person. Meanwhile, he relishes the mess that breeds her candidacy in the French political life.

— How would you describe Russian internal politics?

— As a schizophrenic. Economic reforms are necessary, but the government does not want to hold them. Putin is a conservative and believes that reforms are always more expensive than their absence. Power creates the appearance of a thaw, but in fact only multiplies, diversifitsirovat and tightens controls over unhappy. Officially talking about the “legitimacy” of the presidential election in 2018, although the result is known in advance. Russia on every corner shouting about his emancipation, but in fact, psychological dependence of the Kremlin from the West is increasing.

— Putin is surrounded by “the Politburo”, a circle of confidants who help him make decisions?

No, the Politburo does not exist. This concept implies a rigid structure, rules, roles. Putin is nothing like his inner circle is constantly changing. The head of Putin all distributed by sector of activity. Igor Sechin is engaged in oil and has virtually unlimited powers in this area. The brothers Kovalchuk is the PR, and the brothers Rotenberg — transport. But all this is not fixed at the departmental level. And diplomatic and military solutions to Putin’s own.

— On whom it relies to power?

— He depends on no one. It’s a national idol, symbol of Russia. One of the reasons for the discontent of the elite is a conflict with the West. But Putin no stroking of hair. He is above all changes and old friends at young technocrats, which he did not have to. Beginners and choose not because of their political affiliation.

— You think about Russia after Putin?

— All thinking, but mentally, because to Express this kind of considerations is risky. Perhaps Putin will not participate in the elections of 2018, however, we do not know about it until the last moment. For this he will have to solve a number of issues, in particular the restoration of freedom of movement of the Russian elite in the West. It is also necessary to ensure the safety of themselves and their families, both in Russia and in Europe. If he decides to leave the Kremlin, does not pass power to the opposition leader, and his appointed successor. I see two candidates: Dmitry Medvedev and Alexey Dyumin, a former bodyguard of President and commander of the special forces of the defense Ministry. It was his troops led the operation to Annex Crimea, which Putin considers unqualified success. Then Dyumin became Deputy defense Minister and finally Governor of the Tula region in 2016. This should allow him to get the necessary experience.

— What is the status of the opposition?

— It is disparate and powerless. She adheres to the same logic that Vladimir Putin, care she seeks: he who is not with us is against us. The opposition is unable to unite permanently and effectively. There are several notable personalities like Alexei Navalny, but he is too stuck on himself. He does not formulate a clear program, so as not to alienate part of the population. Despite excited against him, he was not sent to prison, and allow him to participate in the campaign. The advantage is that he will be able to draw on the points additionally 10% of voters (this is exactly the result he can count), thereby giving legitimacy to elections and the victory of Vladimir Putin. The government will emphasize its democratic character, that will enable the opposition to participate in political life.