Russian opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov hopes that Russia can replace the President in a peaceful way but to bring this idea to Mr. Putin himself, yet it fails. As for the Baltic States that their security depends on whether Putin will manage to conduct a transaction in Ukraine, with Western leaders.
The leader of Russian opposition party PARNAS Mikhail Kasyanov arrived in Riga to participate in the seminar “Russia and the world — 100 years after the revolutions”, which the Swedish Fund Almarsson Earl (Jarl Hjalmarson foundation) holds in Riga on 7 June. Before the seminar Kasyanov gave an interview to the portal Delfi.
From 2000 to 2004, Mikhail Kasyanov was the Prime Minister of the Russian government under Putin. After the events in Beslan, their paths dramatically diverged. Kasyanov was engaged in opposition activities. In 2008, he made an attempt to run for President, but his candidature was not registered, citing technical reasons. Last year the Democratic coalition, which included himself Kasyanov, Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, went to the elections to the state Duma. After a scandalous video of an intimate nature, shown on the NTV channel path Kasyanov and his supporters dispersed.
About Latvia: Apartment in Jurmala is, but I intend to live in Russia
Delfi.lv: Why a seminar about Russia held in Riga under the leadership of the Swedish Fund? Is Russia such an event is impossible?
Mikhail Kasyanov: My party for the past seven years spent in Russia such events, inviting foreign experts, but for two years we don’t do that: first, the socio-political situation is compressed, and secondly, many of our foreign colleagues, we want to invite, hit the “black list” of banned in Russia because, from the point of view of the Kremlin, too freely interpret the Kremlin’s policy. We, as citizens of Russia, are under constant internal pressure.
While the situation as it is, we are active abroad. Was in Tallinn and Vilnius. In Riga I was invited to a conference of this kind for the first time in 13 years that I am not in power. Although this Swedish Foundation for my party interacts many years.
— What is their interest?
— It does not matter to me.
— Write that in Latvia you are not a stranger. Information about your five-bedroom apartment in Jurmala…
— Yes, it’s true.
— A residence permit in Latvia you have?
— No. I don’t need it. Come here to relax.
— Have you had any thoughts as Garry Kasparov, to ask the Latvian citizenship?
— No. I have no intentions nor to take residence anywhere, nor the nationality of any state other than Russia.
— Periodically reported about the threat to your life in Russia. Do not be tempted to protect yourself and family?
— Danger can be every day, but no thought of she is. I’m going to act at home.
About revolution in Russia: I’m against it, but the patience of Russians might end
— A seminar called “Russia and the world. 100 years after the revolution.” What do you think about the impact of the revolutions on the modern fate of Russia is more negative or positive it has brought?
— We believe that it was one revolution in two parts. My understanding of the effect quite clearly: she brought a solid film. And not only for Russia but for the whole of Europe. If you remember the events after the first world war, when Russia was in the mood ultra left extremist, which caused the development of extreme right-wing tendencies in opposition to… the Big mistake was that after the first world war, the victorious countries, in particular, who headed the Entente England, not paid enough attention to the people of Germany.
— And how much attention they can pay?
— To support the country’s recovery as was done after world war II, when class is taken into account, and the winners took over the restoration of Germany. But in the first world did not, which contributed to the development of extremist tendencies in Europe. As a result, in 30-e years almost all European countries got an authoritarian regime. Including Latvia — do you remember the coup, Ulmanis 34-year. Such was the case in Lithuania, Estonia and other countries.
I believe that all of these events were associated with an abnormal response of the countries that after the first world war had power — they could not to flirt with Soviet Russia, which carried out the genocidal policy, and to help Germany. In the end, 15 years after brutal against the Germans the Treaty of Versailles came to power, Hitler. The roots of this I see it in the revolution of 1917.
Stalinist repression, the genocide of the Russian people, were not lost — they are hammered into the brains of the complete lack of respect for human rights. This led to the fact that the Soviet Union became, in the apt definition of Reagan, “evil Empire.” Everything that happened immediately before the Second world war, including the annexation of the Baltic States that became a tragedy for the small peoples, is also connected with the revolution.
— After the Ukrainian independence squarely raised the question whether there is a revolutionary situation in Russia, perhaps something similar to the Maidan there and is it necessary?
— Situation there. The position of our party on this issue is very simple. Although many may call it is not particularly promising from the point of view of what is happening in my country. We must achieve the mandatory change of government and political course of the country, but only through the constitutional mechanisms through elections.
Unfortunately, today’s elections in Russia, as a democratic institution does not exist, it is only an imitation. The Russian Constitution allows a change of leadership, but the authority is usurped, so people are in a state of pessimism — no one believes in change through constitutional means. Nevertheless, I and my party continue to believe it and to hold its course.
— Recently, Chulpan Khamatova on the question of which is better — revolution or life in North Korea, said that it is better to last than a bloody revolution… What would you say?
I am against revolution and violent regime change.
But it is possible?
— Here we can only guess and speculate. I think that the choice between the revolution and the DPRK will not be in Russia — the Russian people will not allow to bring to North Korea. Today’s society is in a state of patience, but once it burst, if Mr. Putin does not realize this and will not start the course on the relaxation and liberalization. At least, that the elections were a demonstration that people have the right to their representatives in government and to start to influence policy. If this does not happen, that patience may end. Then the revolution will be inevitable. To bring the situation to the DPRK, Russian citizens will not allow I’m sure.
— Are you sure that Russian citizens see the drama in the situation?
— Of course, half of the brains backtrack propaganda, but not 85 per cent, as some like to say. The rest of the half until just tolerate. Until…
— Former editor of “Kommersant” Andrey Vasilyev, in an interview with Delfi expressed the opinion that if Putin, who will overthrow, “thug some”, the conditional ex-the commander of Lugansk… How you look at such a prospect?
I overthrow all you watch is negative. Maybe my position looks too peaceful and unpromising, but I’m going to ensure that Russia held a real election. If the revolution happens spontaneously, Yes, the danger that the government may not appear very nice people there…
About political career: a scandal is unpleasant, but not deadly
— Andrey Vasilyev told me that his first impression of Putin was “finally, Russia was lucky”. What’s yours?
— I thought the same thing. Because and then agreed to work with Putin. Before, I never had much, but then was deceived by his behavior: I found that this is a model of transformation of karabelnik in the new Democrat. And Yeltsin was wondering why and supported Putin.
— What is the scenario you see is more likely the one that offers your party, or revolution?
— We are doing what you believe in. But, from the point of view of today, it seems that Mr. Putin does not understand the danger of the situation, and therefore chose the more stringent scenario — tightening of the screws. Creating such an atmosphere, it leads to the maturation of the revolution. He thinks that all the pinch-clamp and obey him, but he actually stirs up revolutionary sentiment (which is low), and leads the country to destruction.
— How you can rely on the constitutional passage of the power, if the recent elections have given your party 0,7% of the votes in Russia. Is this a reason for optimism?
— A week before the election according to the poll, “Levada-center” (the only independent statistical organization in Russia) we had 8 percent, and a week of 0.7%. Here is the scale of the twist.
And eight percent gave you faith?
— Of course! It 25 seats in Parliament and the beginning of the erosion of the entire vertical. This could be a smooth starting point for real political discussion, relaxation of the situation and to lay the foundations for his departure, but Putin did not want to take advantage of this good chance. Of course, all would not happen immediately, but over a period of four years — completely. If we were in Parliament, then next year the President was not Putin, but a real leader chosen by the people.
— In due time you again optimistic, put forward his candidacy for President of Russia…
— Yes, in 2008. I have not had the opportunity to be nominated by the parliamentary party, and I did it through the collection of signatures of Russians and collected over two million a month. Throughout Russia, because each subject of the Federation there could be no more than 50 thousand. It was a huge job. During this time, my support level has increased from 6% to 15-16%. But with the election then they took me, stating that 36 signatures of two million, declared invalid — not fraudulent, and properly decorated. From the series: the collector of signatures in the wrong place, put the seal or signature or the word “village” is written with a capital letter.
— And now you had thoughts to be nominated?
— I publicly announced that this time I won’t, because these elections are not, in fact, elections. In fact, the Putin administration announced that in March next year will be a referendum on confidence to the incumbent President — full and hard the imitation of elections.
However, as a party, we are in this process we will participate is the opportunity of interaction with citizens and a way to bring his thoughts to them. So we either nominate someone or support the nominee of another party.
— If it is, as you say, a referendum on confidence in Putin, in your opinion, how great is it today?
— This question is more to the Levada center. I can in his analysis to only rely on their conclusions. It’s certainly not 85%. These percentages answer the question, do you approve of the policy of Russia. Here the majority of citizens have answer, as in Soviet times — “Yes, love, Yes, respect.” “Yes, support” — only to fall behind, especially if the survey is conducted by telephone. In this we do not believe. But the results of the election analyses, the level of support for Putin has always been about 50%. So it was in 2000-m to year (52%), and in 2012, although the debates of sociologists and mathematicians are continuing, the trust fluctuated between 48 and 52%, despite the fact that Putin did not allow independent candidates and declared the result to 65%.
— I can not ask, but the scandal of April last year, which erupted around you — how it’s fatal for a politician in Russia? In the US, this kind of scandal often bury a political career…
— In Russia it is, of course, unpleasant, but not critical. I think it has not much affected. Still we have a different attitude to such things. As in many European countries.
— That is, your Western partners did not Express concerns about your career?
— No. Even Americans.
On Navalny: he has a shaky position on Ukraine, Crimea, sanctions and NATO
— How are your relations with other members of the opposition? After the scandal before the elections to the state Duma you went with Navalny and Yashin.There is a single opposition mechanism?
— Single — no. There are three political groups — PARNAS, Yabloko and the unregistered party of Navalny.
— You don’t see together with the Bulk?
— I do not see. For the simple reason that in this period of time, he could participate in the elections as a kind of penetrating power, but can’t due to certain circumstances. Me and my party to ask him some questions of a political nature, because, as you know, Bulk — unstable, even precarious position in Ukraine, Crimea, sanctions and NATO. We are consulting on cooperation with Apple and prominent citizens… Time is to declare and establish its position ahead of the next political cycle. In mid autumn we will announce if put forward its own candidate or support another.
— Russia’s opposition to the image of people far from the common people. For example, the chief editor of “Snob” historian Nikolay Uskov marked you in an interview to Delfi, as “the gentleman, intellectual, well, why should he be different?”. I think the people will believe and follow you, so glamorous?
— I agree that not everyone can like this but I am what I am — I don’t want to change yourself and your beliefs and principles, to adjust to someone else’s opinion and become a populist. I’m going to try to convince citizens of the rightness of, as I see it. Our party is designed to attract middle class people living in major cities, we’re talking simple things. Not gonna change to please others.
All these years we with Boris Nemtsov tried to unite the opposition. Alas, not very successfully. This could cover a wide range of people of democratic views. Not only in large cities that are closer to my description, read you.
About the Russian economy and the tanks. If you can to stop Putin in Ukraine, you have nothing to fear
— You were five years Prime Minister, and before that did a lot of the Russian economy. How do you evaluate the changes in the economic situation in the country?
— It is certainly a long conversation. But I will tell you facts and figures several “five year plans”. To 98-99 years after the Soviet collapse, Russia’s economy was going down, carried out tough reforms to complete the restructuring from the standpoint of the totalitarian state on different principles than the market. The policy was not very consistent and resulted in a large number of problems, but the course was loyal to the democracy and market economy. After the crisis of 98-th year in 1999 I became Minister of Finance until 2003-2004 was a period of reforms, when Russia began economic growth — plus six percent of GDP per year. We were friends and worked together with the European Union and the United States, and almost joined NATO.
For five years, the economy grew by 40%. It gave people the opportunity to feel the benefits of the market economy, especially in cities were middle class. Incomes were growing at 15% per year, which allowed to greatly change the lifestyle, to travel abroad and conduct long-term planning for the future of their families. At that time the average price of oil was $ 25 a barrel in 1999, $ 15. When I left, it was $ 27. And at that price, economic growth has allowed to achieve significant results.
After my retirement reform forgot — Putin, they were useless, because dramatically increased oil prices — above $ 100 per barrel. On the basis of backlog the early 2000s, the economy grew by another 40%, were completed all the downturns of the world economy, but then began a natural decline.
In General, the difference of economic development of the country Putin (with whom I worked and was friends Europe and the USA) and Putin the second sample (who quarreled with the whole world) is striking. Therefore, I would argue that President Putin is pursuing harmful to long-term development of his country, he undermines the economy.
— There is another opinion that the sanctions helped to revive domestic production in Russia…
Is an empty talking shop, which is not true — there is no import. In addition to agriculture, which developed a good pace, because my government had introduced special measures to support. Not handing out money like it was in the USSR, and loans on special preferential conditions, to encourage repayment of loans and obtaining new ones.
As soon as I became Minister of Finance, was immediately forbidden to spend even a penny for the purchase of wheat. Though the Soviet Union 70 years the wheat is purchased abroad. Despite the fact that in 1913, tsarist Russia, we were a huge exporter, the Soviet government destroyed it all. And only in 2000-m to year when I introduced the instruments to support agriculture, we again began to export.
The last theme of the seminar, on which you came — the future of Russian-Baltic region. And how do you see it?
I see our countries are close and good neighbors — two independent and equal countries. Now the relationship is not particularly neighborly, but this is due to the fact that the current Russian government believes States, former Soviet republics, such… nedogosudarstv. To a lesser extent this applies to the Baltic countries, than Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. Accordingly, it is aggressive politics. Against you she’s too aggressive, but since Latvia is a principled policy, a member of the EU and NATO, such a clear manifestation of aggression is not.
— So are we to be afraid of Russian tanks or not?
Is a global issue. If the world, including the Baltic countries, will be able to stop Putin in Ukraine, not to sacrifice principles and not to go any kind of a deal (which he wants — remember his conversation with trump), then you can not be afraid. If Putin wins in their aggressive intentions in Ukraine and in the Crimea, and you have to wait for the consequences.
— What? That will increase appetite?
— Clearly and automatically.