With former Prime Minister of Russia, now one of the opposition leaders Mikhail Kasyanov, we talked in early June in Riga organized by the Fund after the Earl of Hjalmarsson seminar on processes in Russia. Conclusion Kasyanov — created by Vladimir Putin’s “capitalism for friends” brought the state to crisis, and the forecast is for continued stagnation.
Kasyanov there is no optimism about the possibility of imminent changes in his country, but he believes that Putin will not start a new adventure against neighbouring countries, at least until the presidential election next spring.
Ir: the Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko, the party which United Russia has a contract with the “Consent”, congratulated the residents with the fact that they are in the municipal elections voted for the party, “a position which is different from the General line of the authorities of Latvia”. Congratulations (mayor of Riga) Nile Ushakov? Contributes to whether the Treaty relations of Latvia with Russia?
Mikhail Kasyanov: it is Obvious that the residents are satisfied with the situation in the city, if they are in such large numbers to vote for the party Ushakov. As you know, I am in opposition to President Putin and the party “United Russia”, which is not considered a party, it is just an Association loyal to Putin businessmen and officials. I believe that this group does not need to cooperate.
— Why Putin’s support of Russian, who do not live in Russia and would not want to live there?
— It’s not some amazing feature of Latvia, it is typical for living abroad the Russian. Thus, they seem to confirm the perceived relationship with their homeland. I am convinced that if you ask all those in Latvia who are sympathetic to Putin, if they want to live in Russia, the answer is: no we do not.
But if Putin is similar to the “Krymnash” would say: “Balteanca”? Would have helped him living here Russian?
— I think not. When I come here (Kasyanov bought an apartment in Jurmala — approx. ed.), talking to Russian people on the streets, in the store, you see that they want to live in Latvia, they like it. I see no reason why they would want to be part of Russia.
— However, for the local Russian, too, is typical of the thinking of “our Crimea”.
— It has other reasons. All these people in the same way as all the generations who now live in Russia, studied at the same school textbooks that Crimea has always been part of Russia and only the unjust happened to be from Ukraine. So they decided: if Putin is this injustice and randomness fixed, that’s good. Putin will not, but Crimea will be ours — so they think.
— What do you think — will the Crimea in Russia after Putin?
It is a topic for the future government of Russia. My party believes that it was an illegal annexation.
— You for such views were not in danger, given the fact that in Russia it is illegal to question the territorial integrity of the state?
— You asked a really sensitive question. As you yourself said, in accordance with the law is threatened.
— You say that Crimea is a matter for the future government of Russia. How long in Russia, Putin will rule?
— No one knows. I think that Vladimir Putin himself wants to rule the rest of your life, because the situation is getting worse every day, and his departure becomes problematic. But the reality will be, nobody knows, including Putin himself.
Now we have moved to a long-term process of transferring everything. As they say, including sociologists, people are very dissatisfied with their economic and social situation, but justifies this by the promotion of a sense that “we again stood up”. While this compromise does not become a contradiction, this patience will continue: people will continue to tighten their belts with the feeling that Russia is a superpower, and everyone is afraid of her.
— What do you think about the suggestion that Putin could not run for election next year?
— I am 100% sure that he will not only participate in the election, but will enter the Kremlin. Decided again to be President. The rest will be imitated, “drawn”: the people assemble, shout “hurrah!” applaud. Everything will be made so that the picture is for residents of Russia and the outside world was impressive.
— How much interest will get Putin to look more or less decent?
Is already defined: 70% participating in the elections, and 70% of them votes for him.
— Will the opposition common candidate?
The decision is not accepted, because it is not enough for candidates to talk about one. At the moment the desire to run expressed to only two: Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexei Navalny.
— Navalny conviction, it can not run.
— Bulk, Yavlinsky might. Yet it is at this stage. My party — Party of people’s freedom — in September or October will decide on the nomination of a candidate or supporting another candidate.
— You participated in the presidential elections in 2008. Are you ready to participate again?
— No. Don’t see the feasibility of its participation in this time, because there is no question of a change of government. Of course, we as a party can not participate. Even if it is only a simulated event, it is still a possibility of interaction with citizens during the election campaign. In this regard, we now think — would nominate a candidate, but not me, or support someone else to use these political opportunities.
— Putin for a long time popular in Russia, and not only with “our Crimea”. Based on his popularity?
— It is necessary in the historical context to look at a few stages. In the first stage of Putin’s popularity was for the actions. He supported all the reforms which implemented the government I lead, and the economy really grew, incomes grew by 15% a year, although oil prices then, in 2000-2004, was low (18 to 27 dollars per barrel). People could feel it.
Then began the second stage — the growth in oil prices up to 70 and later to $ 100 per barrel. At that time it was something like an unspoken contract between Putin and citizens: I give you, the citizens, the opportunity to earn and spend money, and you do not climb into politics. The second stage ended with the fact that he appointed Dmitry Medvedev, the guardian of his chair.
Then came the economic crisis, and people realized that you can no longer earn and spend nothing more, and freedom have been taken away — you gave, and now there is nothing. Today in Russia is dominated by pessimism, a sense of hopelessness that nothing can change. Therefore, leaving many who have the money. But some stay in Russia, close to their families and criticize and discuss in the kitchen. However, very few of those people who still say things publicly, criticizing the government, and trying to explain to others what’s going on.
There are other processes. In March, we saw surprisingly wide protests against corruption, in may protests in Moscow against the renovation, and the drivers are rebelling. Do you see reasons for optimism that civil society is not completely suppressed?
— I see. However, it would be too loud to say that civil society is not suppressed. This individual protests. Truckers have real economic problems and they do not want to politicize their protest. They want to convince the king to change an opinion, and not accept our explanation that the king himself is the problem.
Most of the protesters in Moscow, they say: we want our house would be demolished, and want to make Sobyanin and Putin did not do it. We say: but after all, they invented it. However, some people are already starting to change position in Moscow began the process of politicization of the protests. In this context, hope is, but it’s not civil society, this feeling of people that they have taken away something important.
In Moscow the question on a fundamental part of the state — private ownership. When people have the decision of the neighbors to take away the only thing that belongs to them, — most of the neighbors vote, and you take away private property, it is a direct violation of the Constitution.
— Protests in March against corruption was also an appeal to the king? There were a lot of young people who have hardly this kind of thinking.
Is this true, and is a very positive factor. But the slogans of the organizers and arrows of their criticism was directed against Medvedev, not against Putin. The information was about Medvedev, the film was made about him, and Putin was there only indirectly.
— Do the protests in power sense a serious threat? For example, the former chief of the General staff Yuri Baluyevsky, who is now an adviser to the commander Putin created the National guard, said recently that the main threat to Russia’s security internal, not external.
— With this I can only agree — of course, with this policy the internal problems will only grow. Nobody threatens us from outside, Putin himself invents enemies.
If there is a contradiction here: Putin creates an image surrounded by enemies of Russia, and representatives of the security services actually argue that the threat is internal?
— First, Baluyevsky not the power and receives instructions on what to do or say, so says what he thinks. And his thoughts are correct: of course, the threat to the regime inside the country. Not abroad are preparing to attack Russia and to change the regime.
— How realistic is probably the most frightening for the regime: either a popular revolt or a coup?
— The most frightening for them — it’s a riot. They just start to turn purple and tremble when they hear mention of the “color revolution” and the Maidan. It is important, what they fear. This threat is very low, practically nonexistent. But it may increase if the previous policy will continue. Putin it continues, then it will continue to grow. When will grow and how long, nobody knows — in five or ten years or five months.
— A Palace coup? Not does Putin, for example, the popularity of defense Minister Sergei Shoigu?
— No, a Palace coup cannot be. There is not one person who could something to turn.
— To maintain the image trapped in a hostile environment of a great state need a new victory. Possible new military adventures against Putin’s neighbouring countries?
— I am convinced that now — no. Nothing will happen for at least a year, while Putin again neither will enter with the new mandate to the Kremlin.
But if a new victory before the election?
— Enough of that already. Putin will support this situation, for example, will not agree to concessions to settle the situation in Ukraine or in Syria. And then, if there are any compromises or deals like our American colleagues, it is necessary to think a deal with Putin! on this basis, can we expect some kind of aggression.
— Do you feel that the military exercises “the West” in September do not threaten the Baltic States?
Is a demonstration of power and readiness for the future, they say, let them know! To the carp in the pond was not asleep, as Putin likes to say.
— And whether the President of Belarus Lukashenko is reason to fear that the Russian troops will come in and stay?
— Not today, but yeah.
— “Our Crimea” — Putin’s Holy cause, but what will he do with the Donbas, which is a huge burden, both economically and politically?
— Putin wants it to be over, but on his terms. This would mean that all those gang elements will be empowered by the election, that they are the legitimate authority, and will be in the territory of another country — Ukraine — to fully influence the policy of Ukraine, being under the control of Putin. So he wants to minimize the independent Ukrainian state. That was an Amnesty for those who killed thousands of people, so they legitimately came to power, and to be recognized by the international community.
— Including in Latvia constantly voices that entered against Russia sanctions negatively affect the economy. Should they in this case should remain in force?
— Sanctions against the Putin regime — and I emphasize: not against Russia and its people, and against the government — introduced due to circumstances that arose. Namely, the destruction of the entire European security system, in violation of international agreements on the sovereignty of States, the annexation of the territory of another state. In this regard, guided by the normal political logic of sanctions should not be cancelled until it disappeared their causes. If this logic change, it will mean that Putin has won and proved to the world that in this world everything can be bought and sold, the only question is the price.