Majority of Veterans Say Post-9/11 Wars Weren’t Worth Fighting; According to New Poll, Most Russians Want Democracy, but Not Western Style Liberal Democracy; RPG Attack on Ukrainian TV Station That Was Ready to Show Oliver Stone Documentary

A new poll conducted by Pew in May and released last week, shows that a majority of U.S. war veterans, along with a majority of Americans in general, don’t believe that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria have been worth fighting. A graphic representing the results is here:

Bryan MacDonald relayed the results of a recent survey of Russians from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The survey asked Russians their view of democracy and Russia’s relations with the west. According to the results: 48 percent of Russians want a change in their country’s governance and 62 percent believe that some form of democracy is necessary, but western-style liberal democracy was not looked upon as desirable for Russia as 45 percent thought it would bring “chaos and destruction” to their country. As for overall relations with the west, only 24 percent thought they could ever be friendly as opposed to distrustful.

This leads me to believe that my long-standing view of Washington’s foreign policy being counter-productive and in need of a change is as true as ever. Rather than throwing our weight around and bullying the rest of the world to accept our definition of democracy at the end of a gun barrel, we should get our own house in order and provide a more inspiring example to everyone.

The people actually living in a country know better than we do what kind of government and economic system will work best for them, according to their culture and history.

We’ve all known that certain someone in our families or neighborhoods, etc. who constantly dominates, meddles and thinks they know what’s best for everyone else. They also tend to pontificate constantly and never shut up long enough to learn from anyone else.

We should strive not to be that person in the form of a country.

On July 12th, a rocket propelled grenade attack was launched at a TV station in Kiev that was scheduled to air an award-winning documentary by Oliver Stone called Revealing Ukraine. The documentary attempts to follow Ukraine’s path from independence in 1991 to today. It included information from Dr. Ivan Katchanovski, a Canadian-Ukrainian academic who has done the most thorough analysis of the Maidan sniper attacks in March of 2014. As readers of this blog may recall, Katchanovski’s work discredits the Maidan government and Washington’s account – which the MSM has accepted without question – that the scores of people, both protesters and police, killed on the Maidan on March 21st, were murdered by the forces of the Yanukovich government. Katchanovski’s work shows that the deadly shots came from buildings that were controlled by the Maidan forces.

Katchanovski said the following regarding the attack:

#Ukraine TV cancels US documentary broadcast after #Terrorist attack & threats by far right to attack it, by Prosecutor General to launch state treason & terrorism financing investigation & by National Television & Radio Broadcasting Council to sanction it

Popular #Ukrainian TV channel is shelled from grenade launcher in order to prevent its broadcast today of US #Documentary by @TheOliverStone. It would reveal involvement of #Maidan snipers in Maidan massacre. Would there be any reaction from US government?

Apparently there were threats of stopping the broadcast of the documentary prior to the attack:

The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of #Ukraine states that it would monitor this US #documentary and threatens sanctions against a popular Ukrainian news TV channel for showing it

Footage of the attack is below. There are no reported casualties.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, immediately condemned the attack:

“I condemn the attack on channel 112 Ukraine premises today in Kyiv. Hopefully nobody was wounded but such violence and threats against media cannot be tolerated. This is an unacceptable act of intimidation which could have had dramatic consequences,” Désir said, welcoming the swift response of law enforcement officials in the case. 

“I call on the Ukrainian authorities to thoroughly investigate this attack, and to bring those responsible for this crime to justice,” Désir said.

Kim Iversen Explains Why War & Foreign Policy Should Be Most Important Issue for Democratic Voters; Mueller Report’s Claim of Russian Interference in 2016 Called into Question by Investigative Report & Federal Judge’s Ruling; Ukrainian President Requests Multilateral Talks with Russia re Donbas Conflict as NATO Builds Up Accessible Ports Near Crimea

Apparently, a lot of potential Democratic party voters have stated in a recent poll that their most important concern is nominating a candidate for president who can defeat Trump because they think he’s particularly dangerous. Political analyst, Kim Iversen, explains in this video that the most dangerous behavior that a president can exhibit is killing. Given that a president has the most power in his/her role as Commander in Chief, his/her decision of whether to unleash the U.S. military on human beings anywhere in the world who are perceived as enemies or to talk to them is a critical criteria for determining how dangerous they are. Based on that criteria, Trump has actually been less dangerous than other presidents who had a more pleasant and less volatile demeanor. She encourages potential Democratic voters to think more deeply about the Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination and whether they are potentially much more dangerous than Trump.

Kim Iversen

I totally agree with Iversen. But I fear that most people will not use her criteria in making voting decisions. The death and destruction that our president may rain down on other human beings via our military typically happens on the other side of the world and – thanks to a craven media – we hardly ever see the image of the results. Also, only a small percentage of the population is affected by these wars due to the volunteer military force. Therefore, the death and destruction becomes an abstraction that does not resonate and does not factor into voting decisions the way that immediate issues like health care and jobs do. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this and would like as many people as possible to hear Iversen’s well-articulated argument.

As we all know by now, the Mueller Report found no evidence to support the allegation that Trump colluded with Russia to win election as president. However, it continued to claim that the Russian government interfered in our election, which is being repeated everywhere as flat fact. However, veteran Russiagate journalist, Aaron Mate – who systematically debunked a lot of the collusion nonsense in real time – takes a deep dive into this claim as well. A summary of points from his lengthy article for Real Clear Investigations includes:

  • The [Mueller] report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.
  • The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.
  • There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.
  • Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.
  • U.S. intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.
  • Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party’s legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.
  • Mueller’s report conspicuously does not allege that the Russian government carried out the social media campaign. Instead it blames, as Mueller said in his closing remarks, “a private Russian entity” known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
  • Mueller also falls far short of proving that the Russian social campaign was sophisticated, or even more than minimally related to the 2016 election. As with the collusion and Russian hacking allegations, Democratic officials had a central and overlooked hand in generating the alarm about Russian social media activity.
  • John Brennan, then director of the CIA, played a seminal and overlooked role in all facets of what became Mueller’s investigation: the suspicions that triggered the initial collusion probe; the allegations of Russian interference; and the intelligence assessment that purported to validate the interference allegations that Brennan himself helped generate. Yet Brennan has since revealed himself to be, like CrowdStrike and Steele, hardly a neutral party — in fact a partisan with a deep animus toward Trump.

None of this means that the Mueller report’s core finding of “sweeping and systematic” Russian government election interference is necessarily false. But his report does not present sufficient evidence to substantiate it.

On July 9th, Mate tweeted out the following details on a ruling just made by a federal judge in DC regarding whether Mueller adequately made the case of the IRA – a St. Petersburg-based troll farm that put out click-bait on various social media platforms in 2016 – being connected to the Russian government:

Federal judge has issued a significant rebuke of a core Mueller claim. Mueller claims that the IRA — a Russian troll farm — was the 2nd of “two principal interference operations” by Russian gov’t. But as judge notes, Mueller’s implied link between IRA & Russian gov’t was false:

This is a major blow not just to Mueller but to the entire “Russian Active Measures” talking point. As the judge acknowledges, the IRA (which, btw, put out juvenile clickbait mostly unrelated to the election) is a private entity & Mueller never establishes a Kremlin connection.

This inconsistency, confirmed by a DC judge, raises new Qs about the validity of Mueller’s claim of a “sweeping and systematic” Russian gov’t interference campaign. If Mueller was disingenuous in falsely trying to link it to Russian gov’t, what else was he disingenuous about?

Here is the DC Judge’s order that I’m quoting from. Judge rebukes Mueller & DOJ for falsely suggesting a link between IRA & Russian government, and for suggesting that IRA carried out a Kremlin “Active Measures” campaign — a “central” Mueller allegation: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6185644/Sealed-Order.pdf …

And Russia-based journalist Bryan MacDonald tweeted on July 8th that Russian news agency Tass is reporting that Ukrainian president Zelensky is requesting multi-lateral talks with Russia, US, UK, Germany and France regarding the Donbas conflict:

New Ukrainian President Zelensky has proposed settlement talks with Putin on Crimea & Donbas. He wants the summit held in Minsk with Trump, Merkel, Macron & the next UK PM present. The Kremlin says it will consider the offer.

Meanwhile, a defense magazine is reporting that the U.S. is retrofitting Ukrainian naval ports to accommodate U.S. and NATO warships just miles away from Crimea:

Centered at the Ochakiv Naval Base and the military facility at Mykolaiv — 40 miles east of Odessa and less than 100 northwest of Crimea — the American-funded effort includes reinforcing and upgrading existing piers and adding a new floating dock, security fencing around the bases, ship repair facilities, and a pair of brand-new Maritime Operations Centers from which Ukrainian and NATO forces can direct exercises and coordinate activities….

…While Ukraine isn’t a NATO member, it does receive training from NATO forces and is currently hosting the annual Sea Breeze exercise that includes US and allied warships and several hundred Marines…. 

…Romania, which sits just 150 miles across the water from Crimea, is buying the Patriot air defense system from the US, and Romanian and American forces recently held a series of air defense drills in the Black Sea that simulated shooting down drones.

Was Stalin Really Responsible for At Least 20 Million Deaths?

Stalin in an authorized image taken in 1937 and used for state publicity purposes

During the Cold War and after, estimates of the number of deaths that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was responsible for had numbered 20 million and even as high as 60 million. The following is an excerpt from “Chapter 3: The Stalin Era and WWII” of my forthcoming book. This excerpt discusses updated estimates based on more recently available material, including from the Soviet/Russian archives, as well as where the original inflated estimates originated. The famines of 1930 – 1933, including in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, are discussed in more detail in a later part of the chapter. – Natylie

Stalin’s Terror and the Gulags   

The Soviet labor camps were first established in 1919 and housed aristocrats and former members of the Provisional Government (Gulag Museum 2017).  But the gulags, in which prisoners toiled in extreme weather conditions with insufficient provisions, were greatly expanded under Stalin’s rule, swelling during the Great Purge of 1936 – 1938 when 1.5 million were arrested.  Approximately 750,000 were executed during this same period (Gulag Museum 2017). 

A very high proportion of the arrestees were party officials, including military officers, party secretaries and factory managers (Harris 2016).  By January of 1938, it was already being acknowledged within the Central Committee that the scale of the arrests was becoming counter-productive as the fear they elicited among party officials was undermining job performance (Harris 2016). 

It is recognized that Stalin’s head of the NKVD (political police and pre-cursor to the KGB), Nikolai Yezhov, was largely responsible for carrying out the Great Terror of 1936 – 1938 as well as shaping Stalin’s understanding of the alleged conspiracies to undermine the Soviet government.  As James Harris explains in The Great Fear: Stalin’s Terror of the 1930’s:

His commitment to break the conspiracies against the regime and root out enemies was doomed to fail because the conspiracies and enemies were largely chimaeric products of a misguided reading of flawed intelligence. Accelerating the patterns of arrests, interrogations, execution and exile deepened the appearance of conspiracy and enemy activity.  Because the NKVD acted overwhelmingly on the content of denunciations or “confessions” obtained under torture, and not on physical evidence of counterrevolutionary conduct, they could never get to the “bottom” of conspiracy (Harris 2016).

Yehzov was eventually hoisted on his own petard when a backlog of appeals against NKVD convictions mounted and compromising materials against him surfaced.  This was compounded when an NKVD colleague stationed in Japan defected, which led to suspicions that Yehzov was going after innocent citizens while protecting real enemies in his midst.  Stalin fired Yehzov in November of 1938, replacing him with Lavrenti Beria, and used him as a scapegoat for the recent excesses, although Stalin himself had personally overseen and approved lists of citizens to be arrested and executed.  By 1939, the number of arrests had tapered off (Harris 2016). 

It should be noted that the number of deaths that Stalin was purportedly responsible for during his long reign was greatly inflated during the Cold War era when Robert Conquest’s 1968 book The Great Terror first estimated approximately 20 million deaths (NYT 2015).  Conquest, a former British intelligence officer, admitted that he was an unapologetic Cold Warrior who thought that the Soviet Union and Stalin could best be understood as a science fiction story world and character (Fitzpatrick 2019).  Cold War propagandizing and caricaturized thinking likely played a role in this characterization of Stalin as Conquest generalized out from various sources, including claims by Soviet defectors (Fitzpatrick 2019). 

Even popular historian Timothy Snyder, who shows little sympathy for Russia, estimates that Stalin is likely responsible for closer to 6 – 8 million deaths (Snyder 2011), based on research for his 2010 book Bloodlands.  According to Snyder, with the exception of the war period from 1941 – 1945, the vast majority of prisoners left the gulags alive.  The total number of Soviet citizens who died in the gulags for the entire Stalinist period is between 2 and 3 million, which is still an astounding number (Snyder 2011). 

Snyder’s overall figure includes estimates for the famines of 1930 – 1933 of which the famine that specifically took place in Ukraine, often referred to as The Holodomor, is estimated at 3.3 million out of the total of 5 million (Snyder 2011).

Sources:

  1. My visit to the Gulag Museum in Moscow, May/2017;
  2. Harris, James.  The Great Fear: Stalin’s Terror of the 1930’s.  Oxford University Press.  Oxford, UK.  2016;
  3. Robert Conquest, Historian Who Documented Soviet Horrors, Dies at 98” by William Grimes.  New York Times.  8/4/15;
  4. People and Martians” by Sheila Fitzpatrick.  London Review of Books.  1/24/19;
  5. Hitler vs. Stalin:  Who Was Worse?” by Timothy Snyder.  New York Review of Books.  1/27/11.

Poll Claiming 10% of Russians Have Been Tortured Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

Guards Outside of Black Dolphin Prison near Kazakh border. Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Update: I’ve been contacted by a reader who stated the following: “If over 30 years 0.33% of the adult population – so one in 300 annually – experienced some sort of police violence, you can get to 10%. “
Fair enough. But if one has to stretch back 30 years in order to make the figures credible, then that would include the entire “Wild West” Yeltsin era.
Natylie

On June 26th – 27th, the western-owned Moscow Times, The Independent (UK), and the U.S.-government funded RFE/RL all published articles about a poll put out by the independent (i.e. western funded) Levada Center claiming that 10 percent of all Russians have been tortured by Russian authorities.

I’m not suggesting that Russia is Candyland or that police there don’t abuse their authority. I’m aware that there are problems in their criminal justice system – as there are in many other nations, including in the west. If the claim would have been that 10 percent of all prisoners in Russia had been tortured, it would have certainly been in the realm of the plausible. But 10 percent of the entire population of Russia smelled fishy to me.

Now, I’m no math whiz, but I really can’t surmise how one can make the numbers work.

Russia has an overall population of just under 145 million people. 10 percent of that would equal just over 14 million people. It sounds like the Levada poll is claiming that 14 million Russians have been tortured. According to prisonstudies.org, just over a half million Russians (552,188) were being criminally detained in Russia as of January of 2019. That figure includes pre-trial detainees and remanded prisoners. Additionally, the incarceration rate in Russia has been steadily declining since 2008.

It’s extremely unlikely that every Russian who has ever been detained in Putin-era Russia has been tortured, so considerably more than 14 million people had to have been detained by the authorities. Again, how does this add up?

Unfortunately, I don’t read Russian so I can’t read the original poll that was linked to. I’d be interested to know who was included in the sample population and how torture was defined, among other things.

If any readers have specialized knowledge of the Russian criminal justice system and can help me to understand how this could be accurate, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

From what I have studied of the Russian criminal justice system, this doesn’t fit the gradual trend in the Putin era of trying to clean up the system and provide more protections for prisoners and the accused. That’s not to say that more doesn’t still need to be done, but there is a trend toward improvement.

Until I see credible evidence making this add up, I’m going to have to consider this claim to be very dubious.

Putin’s June 27th Interview with the Financial Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin

On June 27th, Putin sat down for an in-depth interview with the editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, as well as its Moscow Bureau Chief, Henry Foy. Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, but I’ve included some important excerpts below with a bit of my own commentary in italics. I have quoted Putin at length to convey his thoughts more clearly and accurately. What he says is so often misrepresented and/or taken out of context in western media.

Rules of International Relations During Cold War vs. Now; Now is More Dangerous

Putin: [D]uring the Cold War, the bad thing was the Cold War. It is true. But there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems that there are no rules at all. In this sense, the world has become more fragmented and less predictable, which is the most important and regrettable thing.

On Disagreements with Previous U.S. Presidential Administrations Since 2000 – Particularly on Abrogation of ABM Treaty

Putin was asked to discuss his relationships with all 4 different U.S. presidents that he has dealt with since he took office in 2000. He mentions that there were plenty of times that he had disagreements – “debates” and similar language is a diplomatic way of saying there were arguments or conflicts. He specifically mentions the abrogation of the ABM Treaty by the Bush II administration. This is probably because it is seen as paving the way for the continuing dismantlement – at Washington’s behest – of the nuclear arms control apparatus.

Putin: .We debated this matter for a long time, argued and suggested various solutions. In any event, I made very energetic attempts to convince our US partners not to withdraw from the Treaty. And, if the US side still wanted to withdraw from the Treaty, it should have done so in such a way as to guarantee international security for a long historical period. I suggested this, I have already discussed this in public, and I repeat that I did this because I consider this matter to be very important. I suggested working jointly on missile-defence projects that should have involved the United States, Russia and Europe. They stipulated specific parameters of this cooperation, determined dangerous missile approaches and envisioned technology exchanges, the elaboration of decision-making mechanisms, etc. Those were absolutely specific proposals.

I am convinced that the world would be a different place today, had our US partners accepted this proposal. Unfortunately, this did not happen. We can see that the situation is developing in another direction; new weapons and cutting-edge military technology are coming to the fore. Well, this is not our choice. But, today, we should at least do everything so as to not aggravate the situation.

About That 2016 Election

I’ve read and viewed many interviews with Putin over the years and he actually seems to have a pretty good grasp of U.S. history and politics. After the 2008 financial crisis, during speeches in international fora, he also provided a critique of the unequal affects resulting from how global capitalism has been organized. In addition to a law degree, Putin worked on an economics dissertation when he was a young man, so he’s not ignorant of these issues. His analysis of how Trump won is similar to that of others who did not get caught up in partisan diversions.

Putin: Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused, despite the Mueller report, of mythical interference in the US election. What happened in reality? Mr Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this….

Has anyone ever given a thought to who actually benefited and what benefits were gained from globalisation, the development of which we have been observing and participating in over the past 25 years, since the 1990s?

China has made use of globalisation, in particular, to pull millions of Chinese out of poverty.

What happened in the United States, and how did it happen? In the United States, the leading US companies -the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners – made use of these benefits. The middle class hardly benefitted from globalisation…The middle class in the United States has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up. The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump’s victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference. This is what we should be talking about here, including when it comes to the global economy.

The Russia-China Relationship

Putin was asked if Russia was putting too many of its eggs “in the China basket.”

Putin: First of all, we have enough eggs, but there are not that many baskets where these eggs can be placed. This is the first point.

… Let me point out that the Friendship Treaty with China was signed in 2001, if memory serves, long before the current situation and long before the current economic disagreements, to put it mildly, between the United States and China….

….Yes, Russia and China have many coinciding interests, this is true. This is what motivates our frequent contacts with President Xi Jinping. Of course, we have also established very warm personal relations, and this is natural. Therefore, we are moving in line with our mainstream bilateral agenda that was formulated as far back as 2001, but we quickly respond to global developments. We never direct our bilateral relations against anyone. We are not against anyone, we are for ourselves.

U.S.-China Relations

Putin: However, of course, we have to admit that it is not only about China’s industrial subsidies on the one hand or the tariff policy of the United States on the other. First of all, we are talking about different development platforms, so to speak, in China and in the United States. They are different and you, being a historian, probably will agree with me. They have different philosophies in both foreign and domestic policies, probably.

But I would like to share some personal observations with you. They are not about allied relations with one country or a confrontation with the other; I am just observing what is going on at the moment. China is showing loyalty and flexibility to both its partners and opponents. Maybe this is related to the historical features of Chinese philosophy, their approach to building relations.

Therefore I do not think that there would be some such threats from China. I cannot imagine that, really. But it is hard to say whether the United States would have enough patience not to make any rash decisions, but to respect its partners even if there are disagreements. But I hope, I would like to repeat this again, I hope that there would not be any military confrontation.

The Future of the New START Treaty

As has been documented here over the course of several weeks, Putin is again pointing out that Washington is showing no interest in preserving what little is left of the nuclear arms control agreements. It is being reported that John Bolton is gunning for the destruction of the New START treaty as would be expected.

Putin: We said that we are ready to hold talks and to extend this treaty between the United States and Russia, but we have not seen any relevant initiative from our American partners. They keep silent, while the treaty expires in 2021. If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities.

Our previous conversation with Donald showed that the Americans seem to be interested in this, but still they are not making any practical steps. So if this treaty ceases to exist, then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race. And this is bad.

China’s “Military Buildup”

Putin: You mentioned the build-up of naval forces in China. China’s total defence spending is $117 billion, if memory serves. The US defence spending is over $700 billion. And you are trying to scare the world with the build-up of China’s military might? It does not work with this scale of military spending. No, it does not.

Risk Assessment

Putin:  Any decision-making process is accompanied by risk. Before taking one’s chances, one has to meticulously assess everything. Therefore, risk based on an assessment of the situation and the possible consequences of the decisions is possible and even inevitable. Foolish risks overlooking the real situation and failing to clearly comprehend the consequences are unacceptable because they can jeopardise the interests of a great number of people.

On Assad Stepping Down in Syria

Putin: When we discussed this matter only recently with the previous [Obama] administration, we said, suppose Assad steps down today, what will happen tomorrow?

They said, “We don’t know.” But when you do not know what happens tomorrow, why shoot from the hip today? This may sound primitive, but this is how it is.

Therefore, we prefer to look at problems thoroughly from all possible angles and not to be in any hurry. Of course, we are perfectly aware of what is happening in Syria. There are internal reasons for the conflict, and they should be dealt with. But both sides should do their bit. I am referring to the conflicting parties.

On Defining and Imposing Democracy Abroad

Putin: Incidentally, the President of France said recently that the American democratic model differs greatly from the European model. So there are no common democratic standards. And do you, well, not you, but our Western partners want a region such as Libya to have the same democratic standards as Europe and the United States? The region has only monarchies or countries with a system similar to the one that existed in Libya.

But I am sure that, as a historian, you will agree with me at heart. I do not know whether you will publicly agree with this or not, but it is impossible to impose current and viable French or Swiss democratic standards on North African residents who have never lived in conditions of French or Swiss democratic institutions. Impossible, isn’t it? And they tried to impose something like that on them. Or they tried to impose something that they had never known or even heard of. All this led to conflict and inter-tribal discord. In fact, a war continues in Libya.

Venezuela

Putin:  But when a person enters a square, raises his eyes to the sky and proclaims himself president? Let us do the same in Japan, the United States or Germany. What will happen? Do you understand that this will cause chaos all over the world? It is impossible to disagree with this. There will be pure chaos. How could they act like this? But no, they started supporting that person from the very outset.

He may be a very good person. He may be just wonderful, and his plans are good. But is it enough that he entered a square and proclaimed himself president? Is the entire world supposed to support him as president? We should tell him to take part in elections and win them, and then we would work with him as the state leader.

Liberalism – Immigration

Probably the most talked about portion of the interview involved Putin’s discussion of liberalism. He talked about different aspects of liberalism: immigration, gender and sexuality, and as part of the diversity of ideas. I have divided up the quotes accordingly.

As some context, it should be remembered that the Soviet Union was a closed off society for 70 years. Typically, Soviet citizens could not travel outside of the country. When a society has been closed off for a long time, it’s to be expected that the society will be socially and culturally conservative. Moreover, after Soviet society disintegrated, many Russians became interested in their pre-Soviet culture in which the conservative Orthodox Church played an important role. This pre-Soviet Russian cultural heritage has also been looked to as a form of social cohesion, some form of which was necessary to hold the country together as it tried to find its way out of the crisis of the 1990’s/early 2000’s and toward stability.

Putin: What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the United States? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people.

Of course, we must always bear this in mind. One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.

There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.

When the migration problem came to a head, many people admitted that the policy of multiculturalism is not effective and that the interests of the core population should be considered. Although those who have run into difficulties because of political problems in their home countries need our assistance as well. That is great, but what about the interests of their own population when the number of migrants heading to Western Europe is not just a handful of people but thousands or hundreds of thousands?

…. As for the liberal idea, its proponents are not doing anything. They say that all is well, that everything is as it should be. But is it? They are sitting in their cosy offices, while those who are facing the problem every day in Texas or Florida are not happy, they will soon have problems of their own. Does anyone think about them?

Liberalism – Gender and Sexuality

Putin: So, the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. Or take the traditional values. I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia as it is. But we have no problems with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us.

They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.

Liberalism Within the Diversity of Ideas

Various ideas and various opinions should have a chance to exist and manifest themselves, but at the same time interests of the general public, those millions of people and their lives, should never be forgotten. This is something that should not be overlooked.

Then, it seems to me, we would be able to avoid major political upheavals and troubles. This applies to the liberal idea as well. It does not mean (I think, this is ceasing to be a dominating factor) that it must be immediately destroyed. This point of view, this position should also be treated with respect.

…. For this reason, I am not a fan of quickly shutting, tying, closing, disbanding everything, arresting everybody or dispersing everybody. Of course, not. The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.