Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

South Front

22.07.2019

Vladimir Putin answered questions from American film director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone. The interview was recorded on June 19, 2019 in the Kremlin (source):

Oliver Stone: So, I interviewed Mr Medvedchuk. It was in Monte Carlo. He gave us a very interesting interview. He gave us his view of the Ukraine. I gather that you’re close with him.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would not say that we are very close but we know each other well. He was President Kuchma’s Chief of Staff, and it was in this capacity at the time that he asked me to take part in the christening of his daughter. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, you can’t refuse such a request.

Oliver Stone: Oh, you cannot refuse it?

I thought it was a big honour for you to be the godfather of his daughter.

Vladimir Putin: It is always a great honour to be a godfather.

Oliver Stone: Well, how many children are you godfather to?

Vladimir Putin: I will not give a number but several people.

Oliver Stone: Wow. Is it like a hundred or three hundred?

Vladimir Putin: No, no, are you serious? Certainly not. Just a few.

Oliver Stone: Otherwise I would ask you to be the godfather for my daughter.

Vladimir Putin: Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone: Ok, we’ll make her that.

Vladimir Putin: You have to ask her.

Oliver Stone: As long as she stands in church, right?

Vladimir Putin: Of course. How old is she?

Oliver Stone: She is 22 now.

Vladimir Putin: Is she a believer?

Oliver Stone: Yes, she is a believer. She is raised Christian.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Oliver Stone: You know, young people in America sometimes, they are different.

Vladimir Putin: Young people are different everywhere.

Oliver Stone: They are spoiled to some degree in the western world.

Vladimir Putin: It depends. The older generation always says that about the younger generation.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, I know, I know. That’s true. But I don’t know what is going on with the American culture. It’s very strange right now.

Vladimir Putin: Is there an American culture?

Oliver Stone: As you know, I’ve been very rebel all my life. Still am. And I have to tell you, I’m shocked by some of the behaviours and the thinking of the new generation. It takes so much for granted. And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.

Vladimir Putin: They live too well. They have nothing to think about.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, but it’s not a healthy culture.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Years ago when we were talking about homosexuality, you said that in Russia we don’t propagate it.

Vladimir Putin: Not exactly. We have a law banning propaganda among minors.

Oliver Stone: Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.

Vladimir Putin: It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Mr Medvedchuk proposed recently, you know, a plan for solving the tensions in Ukraine between east and west. You know about this?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, we do not talk so often. He has more free time than I do. But we meet from time to time, especially in connection with his efforts to get detainees released. He devotes much time to this.

He also told me something about his plans on Donbass but I do not know the details. At any rate, I consider it absolutely correct that he calls for direct dialogue with the people who live in Donbass. There is not a single example in recent history when a crisis was settled without direct contact between the sides to the conflict.

He says he thinks it is necessary to fully implement the Minsk agreements and I cannot help but agree with this as well. So, I know the elements of his proposals. He speaks about them in public and I agree.

Oliver Stone: Ok. They have a new president now. Has anything changed in Ukraine? Or still the same?

Vladimir Putin: Not yet. After all, the recent election was clearly a protest vote. A fairly large number of people supported the newly-elect President in central Ukraine, in the east and the south. And these are all people who sincerely seek a settlement in any event. During his election campaign President Zelensky continuously spoke about his readiness to do everything to solve this crisis. And then literally just yesterday, while in Paris, I think, he said suddenly he does not believe it is possible to hold talks with what he called separatists. This is clearly at odds with what he said during his election campaign.

Oliver Stone: So no change?

Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, none for the time being.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there’s any revulsion? I mean, you were telling me about Ukraine and Russia. Do you think there is any reason for this hatred of Russia in Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin: You know, our relationship is not easy at the moment. This is the result of the grievous events linked with the coup d’état. The other part of this story is propaganda by the current government in Ukraine, which blames Russia for all the tragic events that ensued.

Oliver Stone: Well, historically, do you see these two countries coming together again?

Vladimir Putin: I think this is inevitable. At any rate, the cultivation of normal, friendly and, even more than friendly, allied relations is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Mr Medvedchuk would be a good liaison.

Vladimir Putin: I believe so. But our positions, our points of view, differ on many things. Mr Medvedchuk was born in the family of a man that was said to be convicted during the Soviet times for nationalist activities. He was born in Siberia, where his family and his father virtually lived in exile.

Oliver Stone: What’s the connection?

Vladimir Putin: Connection between what?

Oliver Stone: All this story to my question?

Vladimir Putin: The connection is that he has his own ideas about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. For example, I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are actually one people.

Oliver Stone: One people, two nations?

Vladimir Putin: One nation, in fact.

Oliver Stone: You think it is one nation?

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

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Vladimir Putin: Of course. Look, when these lands that are now the core of Ukraine, joined Russia, there were just three regions – Kiev, the Kiev region, northern and southern regions – nobody thought themselves to be anything but Russians, because it was all based on religious affiliation. They were all Orthodox and they considered themselves Russians. They did not want to be part of the Catholic world, where Poland was dragging them.

I understand very well that over the time the identity of this part of Russia crystallized, and people have the right to determine their identity. But later this factor was used to throw into imbalance the Russian Empire. But in fact, this is the same world sharing the same history, same religion, traditions, and a wide range of ties, close family ties among them.

At the same time, if a significant part of people who live in Ukraine today believe that they should emphasise their identity and fight for it, no one in Russia would be against this, including me. But, bearing in mind that we have many things in common, we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration; it is obvious. However, the current government clearly doesn’t want this. I believe that in the end common sense will prevail, and we will finally arrive at the conclusion I have mentioned: rapprochement is inevitable.

Oliver Stone: I don’t think Mr Medvedchuk would agree. He would say: two nations, similar people. That what he would say, take a strong line on that.

Vladimir Putin: He doesn’t. That is what I am saying.

Oliver Stone: That’s what I’m saying. He does not agree.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. This is what I am saying: our positions on some things, important ones, are different. But at the same time, he speaks in favour of establishing good relations with Russia in order to use these competitive advantages in the economy. He shows how today the Ukrainian economy is completely destroyed because it has lost the Russian market and, most importantly, cooperation in industry. Nobody needs Ukrainian industrial goods on Western markets, and that goes for agriculture too: very few goods are purchased. Round timber is in demand, but soon there will be no timber in Ukraine at all. It’s not like the vast expanses of Siberia.

For example, Europe often takes some steps towards Ukraine – or did so until recently – with, say, permitting purchases of round timber. And this is just one example. In fact, there are many more.

Oliver Stone: Well, someone told me today that Mr Medvedchuk’s party, For Life Party, is up 12 percent in the polls. So he is building a party that has a following, it seems to me.

Vladimir Putin: If so, that is good. To be honest, I don’t know. But if kit is true, that is good.

If so, we can only welcome this because he and his partners in the party stand for restoring relations with Russia. How could we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome it. I have known him for a long time. He keeps his word. If he says something, he does it.

Oliver Stone: So, he is a very courageous man, I think. His villa was bombed, his offices were bombed. He is under threat all the time. He is hanging in there, staying in his country.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is true because he has convictions. I mentioned that his father was a Ukrainian nationalist and was convicted by a Soviet court for this. Strange as it may seem but the founders, many founders of Ukrainian nationalism advocated good relations with Russia. They said good relations were necessary for the development of Ukraine itself.

Oliver Stone: When was that?

Vladimir Putin: This was in the 19th century. They came out for Ukraine’s independence but said that Ukraine must preserve good, friendly relations with Russia. Mr Medvedchuk adheres to similar ideas. This is why he has convictions. I may not agree with his position on something but I always respect it.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, two nations he says. When I hear the words “Ukrainian nationalism,” I get worried, because I think of Stepan Bandera and people who have convictions too.

Vladimir Putin: Me, too.

Oliver Stone: Ukrainian nationalism is dangerous too.

Vladimir Putin: In general nationalism is a sign of narrow-mindedness but I do not want to offend Mr Medvedchuk.

Oliver Stone: It’s words.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, but in any event, he is in the category of people who advocate independence, the consolidation of an independent Ukraine, but at the same time believe that it is easier to achieve this by pursuing cooperation with Russia. And I think he is largely right.

Oliver Stone: You’re very clear.

You talked about the coup d’état. Just want to revisit that because there has been a lot more research done. It seems that research has revealed that there were shooters, snipers at the Maidan. The forensics with the angle of shooting, bodies of the police and the protestors. It was all very badly investigated. Not at all really. But what evidence we have seems to point to there being, they say, Georgian shooters, people from Georgia. And I’ve heard that. Have you heard anything more on the Russian front?

Vladimir Putin: No but I know what you are talking about. I know that the authorities headed by President Yanukovych at that time did not use the army and were not interested in giving any excuse to the opposition to use force. And, as Mr Yanukovych told me repeatedly, it did not even occur to him to use force and the military against civilians, even against those who had already taken up arms. I completely rule out that he could have done this, but those who were looking for a pretext to stage a coup could have well done it, of course.

Oliver Stone: I remember you were telling me about the Obama phone call, Obama and you had an agreement that there would be no firing on the last day. And he gave you a promise that he would…

Vladimir Putin: You know, while Obama is no longer President, there are certain things we do not discuss in public. At any rate, I can say that the US did not follow through on the agreements that we reached during this phone call. I will stop there without going into detail.

Oliver Stone: Yes. So recently, you know Russia has been obviously accused and accused over and over again of interference in the 2016 election. As far as I know there is no proof, it has not turned up. But now in the US there has been an investigation going on about Ukraine’s interference in the election. It seems that it was a very confusing situation, and Poroshenko seems to have been very strongly pro-Clinton, anti-Trump.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is no secret.

Oliver Stone: Do you think there was interference?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine. But it is perfectly obvious that Ukrainian oligarchs gave money to Trump’s opponents. I do not know whether they did this by themselves or with the knowledge of the authorities.

Oliver Stone: Where they giving information to the Clinton campaign?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. I am being honest. I will not speak about what I do not know. I have enough problems of my own. They assumed Mrs Clinton would win and did everything to show loyalty to the future US administration. That is nothing special. They wanted the future President to have a good opinion of them. This is why they allowed themselves to make unflattering statements about Trump and supported the Democrats in every possible way. This is no secret at all. They acted almost in public.

Oliver Stone: You do not want to go any further on that because you do not have any information?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this would be inappropriate on my part. If I said something more specific, I would have to put some documents, some papers on the table.

Oliver Stone: You understand that it has huge implications because Mr Trump would be very grateful?

Vladimir Putin: I did not interfere then, I do not want to interfere now, and I am not going to interfere in the future.

Oliver Stone: But that is a noble motive. Unfortunately, the world has degenerated in these two years, with all this backbiting and accusations, dirty fighting. Anyway…

Vladimir Putin: There are no rules at all. It is no holds barred.

Oliver Stone: Well, you have rules. You say no interference.

Vladimir Putin: I have principles.

Oliver Stone: Ok. But you seem to have rules based on those principles.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Well, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Vladimir Putin: Why? You mean, because of these principles?

Oliver Stone: Yes. If you knew something about the election, it would tilt the balance in a very weird way.

Vladimir Putin: I think this is simply unrealistic. I have said so many times.

Oliver Stone: What is unrealistic?

Vladimir Putin: To change anything. If you want to return to US elections again – look, it is a huge country, a huge nation with its own problems, with its own views on what is good and what is bad, and with an understanding that in the past few years, say ten years, nothing has changed for the better for the middle class despite the enormous growth of prosperity for the ruling class and the wealthy. This is a fact that Trump’s election team understood. He understood this himself and made the most of it.

No matter what our bloggers – or whoever’s job it is to comment on the internet – might say about the situation in the US, this could not have played a decisive role. It is sheer nonsense. But our sympathies were with him because he said he wanted to restore normal relations with Russia. What is bad about that? Of course, we can only welcome this position.

Oliver Stone: Apparently, it excited the Clinton people a lot. The Clinton campaign accumulated the “Steele dossier.” They paid for it. It came from strange sources, the whole “Steele dossier” issue. Some of it comes from Ukraine. They also went out of their way, it seems to me, with the CIA, with Mr Brennan, John Brennan, and with Clapper, James Clapper, and Comey of the FBI. They all seem to have gotten involved, all intelligence agencies, in an anti-Trump way.

Vladimir Putin: They had levers inside the government, but there is nothing like that here. They applied administrative pressure. It always gives an advantage in countries such as the USA, some countries of Western Europe, about 2 percent on average, at a minimum.

Oliver Stone: Two percent? What are you talking about?

Vladimir Putin: Yes. According to experts, those with administrative pressure they can apply always have a 2 percent edge. You can look at it differently. Some experts believe that in different countries, it can vary, but in countries such as the United States, some European countries, the advantage is 2 percent. This is what experts say, they can be wrong.

Oliver Stone: I do not know. I heard of the one percent, but it seems to get more like 12 percent.

Vladimir Putin: That is possible, depending on how it is used.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are not disagreeing. You are saying that it was quite possible that there was an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from coming into office with a soft, I will call it a soft coup d’état?

Vladimir Putin: In the USA?

Oliver Stone: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: It is still going on.

Oliver Stone: A coup d’état is planned by people who have power inside.

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not mean that. I mean lack of respect for the will of the voters. I think it was unprecedented in the history of the United States.

Oliver Stone: What was unprecedented?

Vladimir Putin: It was the first time the losing side does not want to admit defeat and does not respect the will of the voters.

Oliver Stone: I would disagree. I would say it happened in 2000, that the Republicans lost the popular vote, they lost Florida, and they did not accept that, and they had a coup d’état in their way, a soft coup d’état also. And they put Bush in.

Vladimir Putin: But this was a court decision, as far as I remember.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, in a way, but the court decision was blocked. There was a vote going on. And if you remember the Brooks brothers’ riot, all those Republicans rushed to electoral offices in Miami, and they prevented the vote from going through in a county, in one of those major counties. It was a key factor. It was not like the Russian revolution. It was a minor event, but it was big. It shifted the momentum, totally. I remember that night. Then they referred it to the Supreme Court. Also, and the same thing in January 2017, when the intelligence assessment was released, what was it, January 7th,, a few days before Trump was to be inaugurated, the intelligence assessment actually said that the intelligence agencies suspected Trump would have been colluding with Russia. That is even bigger. That is an attempt at a coup d’état, because the electors in America still had the right to overturn the election vote.

Vladimir Putin: This is what they call unscrupulous application of administrative pressure.

Oliver Stone: Ok, ok, ok. Well, listen, it seems to be going on a lot more than we know. Talking about America and Russia, I have not seen you since the Kerch Strait. Any comments on that?

Vladimir Putin: No, I do not, as we have repeatedly said. The former President, Mr Poroshenko, staged this provocation intentionally during the election campaign. He was aware that people in the country’s east and south would not vote for him, and he used this provocation to escalate the situation and then declare a state of emergency there. I have reason to believe that he was going to declare a state of emergency in the entire country, and possibly to postpone the election as a result. Generally speaking, he was trying to hold on to power at all costs, and he was seeking any means to execute this plan. This was the regime’s death throes.

As far as I remember, recently the newly appointed Chief of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff has made a statement that offers roughly the same interpretation of events but perhaps using milder language.

Oliver Stone: Who gave that interpretation?

Vladimir Putin: Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Oliver Stone: Ok, but beyond Poroshenko, the United States has a shadow here. The United States knows what he is doing, and supported it.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Oliver Stone: It is the creation of a strategy of tension that worries me enormously. I have seen this happen in so many places now. I think I read on Monday, the Russian bombers, the Russian SU-57 escorted, what was it, the B-52 bomber, a nuclear bomber, US bomber, close to the Russian borders.

Vladimir Putin Interview With Oliver Stone

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Vladimir Putin: The Su-57 aircraft are just entering service. This is a fifth-generation jet fighter. It was the Su-27 that was mentioned.

Oliver Stone: Do you think that is normal?

Vladimir Putin: Actually, it is sad, probably, but this is common practice. US aircraft did not enter our airspace, and our aircraft did not conduct any high-risk maneuvers.

But generally speaking, this is not great. Just look where the Baltic or Black seas are located, and where the USA is. It was not us who approached US borders, but US aircraft that approached ours. Such practices had better stop.

Oliver Stone: In this continuing strategy of tension, there was a report in The New York Times last week that the Obama Administration, before they left office, put in what they call a cyber warfare device. It was inserted in Russian infrastructure in January 2017.

Vladimir Putin: This is being discussed almost openly. It was said Russia would be punished for interfering in the election campaign. We do not see anything extraordinary or unexpected here. This should be followed closely. That is the first thing.

The second is I believe that we only need to negotiate how we are to live in this high-tech world and develop uniform rules and means of monitoring each other’s actions. We have repeatedly proposed holding talks on this subject to come to some binding agreement.

Oliver Stone: Continuing that theme of strategy of tension, how is Russia affected by the US-Iranian confrontation?

Vladimir Putin: This worries us because this is happening near our borders. This may destabilize the situation around Iran, affect some countries with which we have very close relations, causing additional refugee flows on a large scale plus substantially damage the world economy as well as the global energy sector. All this is extremely disturbing. Therefore we would welcome any improvement when it comes to relations between the US and Iran. A simple escalation of tension will not be advantageous for anyone. It seems to me that this is also the case with the US. One might think that there are only benefits here, but there will be setbacks as well. The positive and negative factors have to be calculated.

Oliver Stone: Yeah. Scary.

Vladimir Putin: No, this is not scary.

Oliver Stone: You sound very depressed, much more depressed than last time.

Vladimir Putin: Last time the situation concerning Iran was not like this. Last time nobody said anything about getting into our energy and other networks. Last time the developments were more positive.

Oliver Stone: The situation is worse now?

Vladimir Putin: Take North Korea, they have also rolled back a bit. Trade wars are unfolding.

Oliver Stone: Venezuela.

Vladimir Putin: Venezuela as well. In other words, regrettably, the situation has not improved, so there is nothing special to be happy about. On the other hand, we feel confident. We have no problems.

Oliver Stone: Well, you are an optimist, and always have been?

Vladimir Putin: Exactly.

Oliver Stone: You are a peacemaker.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely spot on.

Oliver Stone: So obviously, you have to get together with the Americans, and the Chinese, and the Iranians. I know.

Vladimir Putin: Just do not put the blame on us. Lately no matter what is happening, we always get the blame.

Oliver Stone: Well, the irony is that Mr Trump came to office promising that he was not going to interfere in other countries. He made this overall strategy, he was against the wars that we have started, and ever since he has been in office, it has got worse. Why, one wonders? Is he in charge, or are other people pushing these agendas?

Vladimir Putin: I think he is against this now, too. But life is complicated and diverse. To make the right decision it is necessary to fight for what you believe in.

Oliver Stone: Yeah, conviction.

It is your fourth term, are you getting tired?

Vladimir Putin: No, if I had been tired, I would not have run for the fourth term.

Oliver Stone: Ok. Listen, can I find out something? Let’s take a pause. I just want to ask my director if he wants to ask any more things about Ukraine. Five minutes?

Vladimir Putin: The director always has the final word; after all, he is the one calling the shots.

Oliver Stone: Thank you.

I think we are fine.

Vladimir Putin: Very well. Are we done?

Thank you so much.

Oliver Stone: Thank you, sir.

Vladimir Putin: Are you going back to the States?

Oliver Stone: I am very worried about you.

Vladimir Putin: Why?

Oliver Stone:I can see there are so many problems. It weighs you down. It is sad to see. It is a tough situation.

Vladimir Putin: It is all right. We have seen worse.

Oliver Stone: Russian bombes in Syria. What has happened to Skripal? Where is he?

Vladimir Putin: I have no idea. He is a spy, after all. He is always in hiding.

Oliver Stone: They say he was going to come back to Russia. He had some information.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I have been told that he wants to make a written request to come back.

Oliver Stone: He knew still and he wanted to come back. He had information that he could give to the world press here in Russia.

Vladimir Putin: I doubt it. He has broken the ranks already. What kind of information can he possess?

Oliver Stone: Who poisoned him? They say English secret services did not want Sergei Skripal to come back to Russia?

Vladimir Putin: To be honest, I do not quite believe this. I do not believe this is the case.

Oliver Stone: Makes sense. You do not agree with me?

Vladimir Putin: If they had wanted to poison him, they would have done so.

Oliver Stone: Ok, that makes sense. I don’t know. Who did then?

Vladimir Putin: After all, this is not a hard thing to do in today’s world. In fact, a fraction of a milligram would have been enough to do the job. And if they had him in their hands, there was nothing complicated about it. No, this does not make sense. Maybe they just wanted to provoke a scandal.

Oliver Stone: I think it is more complicated. You know, you think I am much too much of a conspiracy guy.

Vladimir Putin: I do not believe this.

Oliver Stone: I have seen things. I do.

Vladimir Putin: You should not. Take care of yourself.

Oliver Stone: Can we get a picture?

Remark: This is a great honour for us. Can we take a picture with you?

Vladimir Putin: With pleasure.

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Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

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Anti-Russian ‘Protests’ in Georgia: Inexcusable, but Supported by the West

Dmitry Babich July 21, 2019

The recent wave of anti-Russian actions in the former Soviet republic of Georgia became an embarrassment even for the notoriously pro-Georgian Russian liberals, of whom there have always been plenty in Moscow. This time the supporters of the exiled former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili (a flamboyant Russophobe admired by the West, but wanted in his own native Georgia for corruption and for starting the war of 2008) disappointed even their ideological “claque” in Moscow.

“The fans of Georgia in Moscow were literally disarmed and made silent by none other than the Georgian TV anchor Giorgy Gabunia, who publicly insulted Vladimir Putin’s late mother on Georgian television, using unprintable words,” admitted Vladimir Vorsobin, a liberal Russian journalist, who spent the last two weeks in Georgia, trying to show the readers of Komsomolskaya Pravda (Russia’s largest newspaper by print circulation) by his example that this small post-Soviet country on the Black Sea coast was “safe for Russian tourists.”

Gabunia’s indecent stunt followed two weeks of ugly anti-Russian demonstrations, with lots of racist slogans, denouncing Russia, “the Russian Ivan,” calling Russians occupiers, etc. So, even the Russians’ patience started to wear thin, especially since these pogrom-like protests were not provoked by any new developments on the Russian side.

Indeed, on earlier occasions the organizers of Russophobic actions at least waited for some pretext. (For example, the brief five days’ war in August 2008, when Russia interfered after Saakashvili’s attack against South Ossetia, saving the small people of that former Georgian autonomy from ethnic cleansing by Saakashvili and Georgian nationalists.) This time, there was literally nothing from the Russian side: no new statements, laws or, heaven forbid, military actions. Nothing. What happened was that on June 20, 2019, a group of Russian parliamentarians came to the Georgian capital Tbilisi in order to attend the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodox Christianity (MAP). The rotating presidency of this group, which unites the parliamentarians of various Orthodox Christian countries (both Russia and Georgia belong to this Eastern branch of European Christianity), this year went to Russia. And it was Tbilisi’s turn to be the city host. So, the leader of the Russian parliamentarian delegation, a State Duma member Sergei Gavrilov, was invited by the hosts to take the chairman’s seat in the session hall of the Georgian parliament.

After Gavrilov took his seat, a real hell broke loose in the center of Tbilisi, leading to 240 injured (two people became one-eyed as a result of violence). The supporters of the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, representing the largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM), violently removed Gavrilov from his seat and called on citizens to start a protest action. The sound of Russian language and the presence of a Russian deputy in a speaker’s seat were the only officially announced reasons.

“I killed Russians, I am killing them and I will kill them!” yelled one of the leaders of UNM, Akaky Bobikhidze from the tribune of the parliament after removing the “occupier” from there. His behavior was recorded for a YouTube video by the Georgian service of Radio Free Europe.

As a result of several hours of violent protests, the Georgian parliament was stormed by a pro-Saakashvili mob. When riot police defended the building, two hundred and forty people were injured (including many policemen) and more than 300 arrested. Gavrilov and members of his delegation, having suffered minor injuries, but a lot of verbal abuse, had to leave Georgia, with which Russia does not have diplomatic relations since 2008.

The other disconcerting element of this shameful situation was the fact that neither the Georgian government nor the Western media had the courage to condemn the obvious and unprovoked violence from the side of Saakashvili’s supporters. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of the ruling party Georgian Dream, as well as former president Giorgy Margvelashvili solidarized themselves with the “protest action” which looked more like a pogrom because of the crude racist tone of its slogans (anti-Russian demonstrations on a smaller scale continued even after the violent stage of 20-21 July). Margvelashvili even said it was “the right way to oppose Russia’s soft power” and called on the West to imitate Georgia in its fight with Russia during his speech to the protesters. The current president of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, who served as the foreign minister under Saakashvili before defecting to the Georgian Dream, called Russia an “enemy,” but expressed her expectation that Russian tourists would return to Georgia, since they are contributing a substantial share of the country’s GDP. (According to World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism contributed 33.7 percent of Georgia’s total GDP.)

The Western press not only solidarized itself with the anti-Russian actions in Tbilisi, it also blamed the casualties on its favorite scapegoat – the Christian Orthodox church in Russia and Georgia. Correspondent Amy MacKinnon of The Foreign Policy (a major US media outlet) traced the origins of the protest to the very idea of holding the assembly of countries with predominantly Christian Orthodox population: “The Russian Orthodox Church has long served as a conduit for Russia’s influence in Eastern Europe and has a potent influence in highly religious Georgia,” McKinnon wrote in her article, where a hope is expressed that the Georgian government will treat Orthodox church with the same suspicion as the Western press does.

The headline chosen by The Daily Beast was even more aggressive and hateful:

“Amid Russian and Orthodox Provocations, Riots in Tbilisi Threaten Pride Parade.”

Upon reading the article, it becomes clear that the gay parade, which had been scheduled to take place in Tbilisi next day after the ugly anti-Russian riot, did not receive any threats from Russians or, heaven forbid, from the Christian Orthodox believers. The organizers were just afraid to do out when the anti-Russian government (represented by Georgian police) and the anti-Russian protesters (represented by Saakashvili’s supporters) were fighting each other with rubber bullets, truncheons and stones on the streets of Tbilisi.

It is enough to quote one paragraph from that article in order to see how “tolerant” The Daily Beast was to anyone in that story who was not gay, anti-Russian or at least anti-Christian:

“After the brutal events of early Friday morning, the organizers of the Pride Parade postponed the march for several days saying, “We could not permit ourselves to contribute to further escalation of tensions in the country. We will not allow pro-Russian, Neo-Nazi groups to weaken Georgia’s statehood.” Now it is not clear when or even if the parade will take place.

According to the local news site civil.ge, the organizers of Pride feel that the Georgian government “has no desire to protect the LGBTQ community against radical groups financed from Russia.”

This shameless torrent of lies blaming the victims (because the only people threatened in those days on the streets of Tbilisi were Russians or the supporters of the Georgian Orthodox church) is indicative of the degradation of Western attitudes to Georgia.

“We should not forget that the civil wars in Georgia started in 1991, when the Georgian nationalist thugs attacked the local autonomies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at the order of the first president of independent post-Soviet Georgia, who was then Zviad Gamsakhurdia,” remembers Dmitry Kulikov, a prominent commentator on post-Soviet space at the Moscow-based Vesti FM radio. “They were defeated and now even Georgian officials recognize that these were awful crimes committed by Gamsakhurdia under the flag of Georgian nationalism. So, why does anyone expect the people with the same ideology around Saakashvili and Zurabishvili to be any better?”

At the time, in 1991-1992 the Western press had the objectivity to call Zviad Gamsakhurdia a madman and a criminal. The Western governments did not protest in any way, when Gamsakhurdia’s government was toppled by the internal Georgian opposition in an armed uprising which many said had the backing of Moscow.

So, why is the West backing the same Russophobic Georgian nationalists who are now acting together with exiled Mikheil Saakashvili, a psychological and ideological double of Gamsakhurdia?

This is a question which historians will have a hard time answering. It was not Georgian nationalism that changed (it stayed largely the same – violent, noisy, anti-Russian and always eager to get Western backing). It was the West (namely, the US, the EU and their allies) that changed for worse.

The Saker interviews Stephen Karganovic

The Saker

The Saker interviews Stephen Karganovic

June 30, 2019

The Saker: Please introduce yourself and your past and present political activities.

Karganovic: My name is Stephen Karganovic. My background is Serbian, Russian, and Polish. On my father’s side I have been able to trace family roots to the town of Khmelita, Smolensk district. In the first half of the 19th century Yuri Karganovich held the by then probably obsolete office of стольник (stolnik) in the regional town of Iskorosten. Perhaps because of my ethnically ecumenical background, I prefer to identify myself simply as an Orthodox Christian. I am a law school graduate, also with a degree in philosophy. I have never engaged in political activities as such. What interests me are issues with a moral dimension, and if they also happen to impinge upon politics, so be it.

The Saker: You are one of the best “Srebrenica specialists” out there. So, could you please in your own words describe, step by step, what actually took place in Srebrenica from the moment the Bosnian-Muslims raided the Serbian villages around Srebrenica to the moment the grand “genocide” strategic psy-op was launched.

Karganovic: I became interested in what happened in Srebrenica in July of 1995, during the Bosnian war, when in 2001 at the Hague I became involved in the defense of a Bosnian Serb officer accused of war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. I was in America, of course, while the war was going on and knew nothing of Srebrenica at that time. Neither did I have any axe to grind in the controversies that sparked that conflict. I was raised and educated in the United States, had a very vague concept of my ethnic background(s), and neither I nor my family had suffered any detriment at the hands of the other contending parties, so I had no motive to favor one side or disfavor another. As we sifted through the evidence in order to construct a defense, I noticed that the prosecution’s case consisted of broad allegations and was bereft of specific facts to support the grave charges laid against the defendant, which included genocide, an accusation that takes much highly technical evidence to prove. As I witnessed firsthand the unconventional legal procedures of the Hague Tribunal, which is a polite way of saying its complete alienation from the traditions of civilized jurisprudence, I became shocked. There did not seem to be much substance to the charge sheets. The remark once made by a hubristic US judge that “we can convict a ham sandwich,” which sounded flippant to me when I read it many years ago, ultimately received its full embodiment in the operation of the Hague Tribunal, and I had a ring-side seat to watch that professionally unedifying show.

I went on to work in several other defense teams at the Hague in cases that were not related to Srebrenica. But to make the long story short, I quickly realized that Srebrenica was the mainstay of the Hague Tribunal, or ICTY, and that officially confirming the “genocide” and “8,000 men and boys” version of the narrative was its principal mission. I was bothered to see defendants convicted to decades-long imprisonment on the most heinous of charges and flimsiest proof, and a nation tarred with the most serious crime under international law, based on improvised and fabricated “evidence” that would not stand up in any non-political domestic court. So, I began to pay special attention to Srebrenica and to use the resources available to me at the Hague Tribunal to collect all the data I could lay my hands on about what happened there.

In 2008 at the Hague, under the laws of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I founded a non-government organization “Srebrenica Historical Project,” dedicated to a contextual, multi-disciplinary study of this issue. Our goal is to get to the bottom of what happened, and how and why. Our colleagues, whose research articles you can read on our website, are of diverse ethnic backgrounds and professional profiles. Almost none are Serbian. They have in common a critical approach and a desire to factually deconstruct what the late Prof. Edward Herman aptly called “the greatest triumph of propaganda at the close of the twentieth century.” He was referring to Srebrenica, of course.

Instead of my presenting a possibly subjective account of what happened in Srebrenica, I recommend visiting our website. Our many authors give, I think, persuasive and factual answers to most Srebrenica questions.

The Saker: What has the impact of Srebrenica been on the Serbian people and the Serbian state? Who has benefited most from this?

Karganovic: Srebrenica’s impact has been to bewilder the Serbian people, who are under the firm impression that they are victims, not perpetrators, of genocide. After bewilderment came indignant rejection of the Srebrenica smear. Western governments and the Soros organization have invested huge sums in Serbia into propping up a bevy of phony “NGOs” with the principal task of indoctrinating the public in the Srebrenica genocide guilt complex. Their efforts have been a dismal failure, notwithstanding the country’s demoralized state and the covert support of Serbia’s quisling governments. The goal, of course, is to further morally break down and emasculate the Serbian nation, to lay on them a paralyzing guilt trip and to render them submissive and obedient, apologizing and atoning forever for acts of moral turpitude that, unlike the Germans, they did not commit. So far, that particular “use of Srebrenica,” as Diana Johnstone would put it, has been a resounding flop.

But another, and very lethal, use of Srebrenica has been a huge success. The Srebrenica narrative is the foundation stone and chief rationale of the “right to protect” (R2P) doctrine of cynical, predatory imperialist interventions that have destroyed and devastated a dozen mostly Muslim countries and claimed several million innocent Muslim lives. R2P’s phony rationale is the supposed failure in July of 1995 of Western countries and NATO to act robustly to prevent the “Srebrenica genocide.” Srebrenica as a metaphor for unbridled imperialist aggression has indeed been a slaughterhouse for Muslims, but not in Bosnia in 1995.

The Saker: Can you outline what is currently happening in Serbia? We hear of a possible conflict with the US-backed Kosovo Albanians, of a possible EU and/or NATO membership? What is really taking place?

Karganovic: In response to your question about what is happening in Serbia (I am in America right now) I will quote from an email that I received today from a friend who teaches at a university abroad but is currently on holiday in Serbia: “There are heavy rains and floods here – Belgrade has been flooded twice – with torrents sweeping away cars as if they were mere toys. There is general chaos in the entire country, and everything is falling apart. But the gang in charge are celebrating themselves as saints and saviors, and there seems to be nothing of greater importance to Serbs than to put on the shackles of the European Union!”

That is admittedly a pessimistic assessment, but I believe it to be close to the truth. Slavic nations generally are not politically sophisticated and can easily be fooled and manipulated by savvy conmen. The Ukraine is a notorious example. Serbs are not far behind; they have the political acumen of seven-year-olds. I read somewhere that young Germans nowadays watch Hitler’s histrionics and wonder how their parents and grandparents could have been so simpleminded as to put their faith in that buffoon and accept his leadership. Future generations of Serbs will undoubtedly be reviewing the performance of the loathsome character who is running their country into the ground today and will wonder how their parents and grandparents could possibly have tolerated his obnoxious misrule.

As for the news of conflict with US-backed Albanians in Kosovo, on the part of the quisling regime there is neither the will nor the means to enter into such a confrontation. The regime was installed in order arrange for Serbia’s legal renunciation of Kosovo and its capos are well aware that reneging on that commitment will have for them most unpleasant consequences. As for actually opposing anything, Serbia no longer has an army worthy of the name, hence no means with which to effectively assert or defend its interests. It is at the mercy of foreign imperialists and their bought and blackmailed local agents. NATO membership seems definitely on the horizon because incorporation in today’s Axis is an essential component of the planned Ostfront war, as much today as it was in 1941.

The Saker: What about Montenegro? Has the Empire been successful in breaking off Montenegro from Serbia and is what is happening nowadays with Montenegro similar to what the Empire did in the Ukraine? I hear that an “independent Montenegrin Orthodox Church” is being prepared, is that true? How toxic/important is this development (assuming it is true)?

Karganovic: The only reason that Montenegro is not labeled “Europe’s last dictatorship,” but Byelorussia is, is that unlike Lukashenko its blackmailed dictator Djukanovic is a servile Western lapdog. With many criminal indictments in Italy waiting to be activated against him at the slightest hint of disobedience, for drug, cigarette, and human trafficking, he has no choice but to be one.

The similarities between the “nation-building” procedures in the Ukraine and Montenegro are striking. What this refers to is the artificial insemination of the target population with a phony, completely fabricated identity entirely at odds with their genuine history and culture, all to their detriment and in the service of their geopolitical manipulators’ and enemies’ agenda. We already know the Ukrainian story and need not repeat it here. The Montenegrin story is precisely analogous. Since subservient local chieftains receive memos telling them what they are expected to do, one may safely assume that in one of those memos delivered to Djukanovic he was instructed to initiate the setting up of a non-Serbian Montenegrin identity in order to fragment and undermine Serbian ethnic and cultural space even further. He obeyed.

The result today are regime-sponsored and condoned anti-Serbian excesses that closely compete with those of the Ukrainian looneys and often boggle the imagination. A recent example is an Instagram message by a certain Mirna Nikcevic, a counselor at the Montenegrin embassy in Ankara, where she wrote contemptuously of the crowd of Montenegrin Serbs that gathered around the cathedral of Christ the Savior in Podgorica to protest the regime’s plan to take over the temples of the canonical Orthodox church and hand them over to a schismatic pseudo church it had set up, that she would “cram the assembled cattle [meaning Montenegrins asserting their Serbian heritage – S. K.] into the church and set it on fire.” That most undiplomatic remark was mildly reproved by Djukanovic’s foreign ministry, but it accurately reflects the dementia of his partisans.

An “independent” Montenegrin church, as a fitting complement to the country’s statehood and alleged ethnic specificity, was in fact created a few years ago in a way that even the Ukrainian lunatics, who serve as the model for Djukanovic and his crew, would have difficulty topping. This “church” founded by atheists (which is what former Communist youth leader Djukanovic admittedly is) was set up as an NGO and registered as such in a Montenegrin police station. Recognizing the autocephaly of the Ukrainian pseudo-church was a piece of cake for the corrupt ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople compared to his forthcoming task of legitimizing the Montenegrin sect. He will have to figure out how to do it when he gets the memo from NATO that this is the next thing that is expected of him. (It is true that the ecumenical Patriarch informed Djukanovic a few days ago that Montenegro never had an autocephalous church and never will have one. But the fickleness of the Patriarchate is legendary. With a little pressure here, and some financial inducement there, the latter having worked miracles in the Ukrainian affair, a canonical rationale for a flip flop can surely be found.) Toxic is one word for the phenomenon of using Orthodox church institutions for the self-destruction of Orthodoxy. Ominous is another word for it and, as sheikh Imran Hosein would say, it is a reliable sign of akhir al-zamaan.

The Saker: Who won the Yugoslav civil war, if anybody? Here forget about Slovenia – please focus on Croatia and Bosnia.

Karganovic: The war was won, in a manner of speaking, by the globalist power centers which engineered the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. They got what they wanted, feeble and dependent statelets run by their hired hands instead of a unified country with weight in world affairs, which at home did not even perform badly. The losers were all the citizens of the former Yugoslavia without exception, not only those who perished in senseless mayhem instigated by foreign agents and executed by domestic fools, but also the miserable survivors who must now live in the resulting neo-liberal hellholes.

The Saker: Are there any Serbs left in the former UN Protected Areas in what is Croatia nowadays and, if yes, how do they live?

Karganovic: Yes, there is a very small number of Serbs left in present-day Croatia, their share in the total population hovering around the 3% mark, drastically down from a quarter of the population before the slaughter in the Nazi-satellite “Independent State of Croatia” during World War II. They are mostly elderly, waiting to die hopefully natural deaths, if permitted by their Croatian fellow citizens.

The Saker: Are there any Serbs left in the Muslim-controlled areas of Bosnia today?

Karganovic: Yes, they are a whopping and largely disenfranchised 5% of the population of that section of the country. For purposes of comparison, in the capital of Sarajevo, where before the outbreak of the hostilities in 1992 there were about 150,000 Serbs, there are now only a few thousand left.

The Saker: How much autonomy does the Republika Srpska have today? Focus on this: are the Serbs in Bosnia safe or at they at risk?

Karganovic: The Republika Srpska, which is the Serb-run entity within Bosnia and Hercegovina under the Dayton Agreement signed to end the war in 1995, is continually struggling to preserve the autonomy guaranteed to it under international law. Above the local authorities, there is a “High Representative” of the “international community” who is really the official in charge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has arrogated to himself vast arbitrary powers to interpret laws, set up institutions, and dismiss democratically elected officials he deems unsuitable. It is a replication of the British colonial system. The Srebrenica genocide matter is being used as a pretext to dispute Republika Srpska’s legal and moral right to exist. No one is entirely safe in present-day Bosnia and Hercegovina.

The Saker: How do you see the future of Kosovo in general and of the Serbian minority in Kosovo specifically?

Karganovic: Until the results of NATO aggression in 1999 are annulled Kosovo will have no future, except as a narco and human organ trafficking pseudo state. Albanians are fleeing en masse the utterly incompetent and corrupt terror regime that was installed by NATO occupiers twenty years ago. The land is saturated with the depleted uranium munitions left over from the three-month NATO bombing campaign and is scarcely fit for human habitation. If you go to Kosovo, I would recommend you make your visit brief and bring your own canned food, avoiding contaminated local ingredients. Babies and animals are being born with hideous defects. Few people are aware of this, but Kosovo was targeted with the highest concentration of depleted uranium and other toxic substances during NATO’s 1999 “liberation war.” Being the majority of the population, Albanians are now paying a heavy price for NATO’s generous favors. Meanwhile, since Kosovo is a pot of gold in terms of its mineral and other resources, the chief liberators Wesley Clark and Madeleine Albright have made a financial killing by awarding themselves juicy business opportunities, while the “philanthropist” George Soros has his eye set on the enormously valuable Trepča mining complex. International corporations will get their choice pickings. Meanwhile, Albanians are dying of cancer and desperately moving out. There is a small remnant of Serbs still living in Kosovo which is spiritually and culturally their Holy Land. The future of that scene of ghastly crimes against humanity is in God’s hands.

The Saker: How many Serbs were displaced in total by the war and where do they reside nowadays?

Karganovic: Estimates are not reliable, but about a quarter of a million are thought to have been displaced from Croatia and as many from Kosovo. A further unknown number sought in Serbia safety from the war in Bosnia. We cannot be sure of the numbers, but we do have striking pictures which portray an exodus of biblical proportions.

The Saker: Are the Serbian refugees from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo a major factor in Serbian politics? If yes, how, if not, why?

Karganovic: They are not a factor at all. They are not allowed to interfere with the policies pursued by the Western-installed Serbian political elite.

The Saker: Do you think that the US and/or NATO have the stomach to use force against Serbia if the Serbs move to protect the Serbian minority in Kosovo?

Karganovic: It is a moot question because the hypothetical situation envisaged by the question is unlikely to occur.

The Saker: What happened to Bishop Artemie and why did the Serbian Orthodox Church yield to the Empire’s pressure and took away his diocese of Kosovo? How is he now and how can the readers find out more about him?

Karganovic: In essence, the American ambassador in Belgrade told the Serbian Patriarch that Bishop Artemie was an obstacle to “normalization” in Kosovo and that it was highly desirable for him to be removed. Within four days, Bishop Artemie was dismissed on trumped-up financial malfeasance charges which after a decade have not been proved in a court of law. His ouster seems to have been a blessing in disguise. He is now leading a thriving “diocese in exile,” where he is joined by most of his Kosovo clergy and monastics. Catacomb parishes, as he aptly calls them, of the exiled diocese are springing up all over Serbia and countries with a Serbian diaspora. The diocese that was contemptuously cast away by the servile, ecumenist leadership of the Serbian Church has now become its salt, providing much needed spiritual nourishment to Orthodox believers. It is living proof of God’s ability to confound the adversary’s most carefully laid plans and to transform them for the good.

The Saker: What should Russia do to help Serbia? What is, in your opinion, the “solution” to the Serbian drama in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo?

Karganovic: That is an overtly political question and as I said, I don’t do politics. I will just say that what Russia can and should do is to never abandon Serbia. That will at the same time be the solution to the drama that you mention. But none of that will be purely the work of human hands.

 

Bamiyan, Babylon, Palmyra, Notre-Dame

April 16, 2019

Bamiyan, Babylon, Palmyra, Notre-Dame

by Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog

The Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed by an intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam. Buddhism all across Asia grieved. The West hardly paid attention.

The remaining ruins of Babylon, and the attached museum, were occupied, plundered and vandalized by a US Marine base during Shock and Awe in 2003. The West paid no attention.

Vast tracts of Palmyra – a legendary Silk Road oasis – were destroyed by another intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam with their backs covered by layers of Western “intelligence”. The West paid no attention.

Scores of Catholic and Orthodox churches in Syria were burnt to the ground by the same intolerant sect pretending to follow Islam with their backs sponsored and weaponized, among others, by the US, Britain and France. The West paid no attention whatsoever.

Notre-Dame, which in many ways can be construed as the Matrix of the West, is partially consumed by a theoretically blind fire.

Especially the roof; hundreds of oak beams, some dating back to the 13th century. Metaphorically, this could be interpreted as the burning of the roof over the West’s collective heads.

Bad karma? Finally?

*

Now back to the nitty-gritty.

Notre-Dame belongs to the French state, which had been paying little to no attention to a gothic jewel that traversed eight centuries.

Fragments of arcades, chimeras, reliefs, gargoyles were always falling to the ground and kept in an improvised deposit in the back of the cathedral.

Only last year Notre-Dame got a check for 2 million euros to restore the spire – which burned to the ground yesterday.

To restore the whole cathedral would have cost 150 million euros, according to the top world expert on Notre-Dame, who happens to be an American, Andrew Tallon.

Recently, the custodians of the cathedral and the French state were actually at war.

The French state was making at least 4 million euros a year, charging tourists to enter the Twin (Bell) Towers but putting back only 2 million euros for the maintenance of Notre-Dame.

The rector of Notre-Dame refused to charge for a ticket to enter the cathedral – as it happens, for example, at the Duomo in Milan.

Notre-Dame basically survives on donations – which pay the salaries of only 70 employees who need not only to supervise the masses of tourists but also to organize eight masses a day.

The French state’s proposal to minimize the ordeal; organize a beneficent lottery. That is; privatize what is a state commitment and obligation.

So yes: Sarkozy and Macron, their whole administrations, are directly and indirectly responsible for the fire.

Now comes the Notre-Dame of Billionaires.

Pinault (Gucci, St. Laurent) pledged 100 million euros from his personal fortune for the restoration. Arnault (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) doubled down, pledging 200 million euros.

So why not privatize this damn fine piece of real estate – disaster capitalism-style? Welcome to Notre-Dame luxury condo, hotel and attached mall.

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