Russian Opposition Leader Kasyanov on Outlook for Democracy in Wake of Demonstrations in Russia
Former head of the Russian government – on the course of the Kremlin inside the country and in the foreign arena
The course chosen by the Kremlin is aimed at self-isolation of Russia, no matter what the staff propagandists say, the chairman of PARNAS, ex-head of the Russian government, Mikhail Kasyanov. Moreover, in his opinion, this applies to both foreign and domestic policies..
At the same time, Mikhail Kasyanov is sure that a change in Moscow’s political vector is necessary and even inevitable in the interests of Russia and its citizens, first of all. Also, in his opinion, there are opportunities for improving Russian-American relations, but this is not the prospect of today..
Viktor Vladimirov: Officially, the Kremlin declares that it does not in any way seek to isolate Russia, but in reality the exact opposite is happening. How do you explain this and what is the essence of the Moscow course today??
Mikhail Kasyanov: The fact that the current policy of the Russian leadership is deliberately and deliberately aimed at the country’s self-isolation is an indisputable fact. All the rest are elements of propaganda. Vladimir Putin is convinced that everything in the world is for sale and everything is bought. According to him, there are no values that are higher than money. Therefore, he believes that the economic potential of Russia is so important for the whole world that sooner or later the Kremlin will win, and the West will have to agree with this and soften its attitude towards it. Putin still believes in such an incredible transformation. So the policy of self-isolation is aimed precisely at this: we will demonstrate to you that we can live without you, and you cannot live without us. In fact, changes are inevitable, and the Russian people, I am sure, will not allow them to live in such a situation for very long..
VV: The thesis is constantly heard from the lips of Russian state officials that the West will in any case find something to punish Russia for, regardless of whether, for example, the annexation of Crimea was or not. Your opinion?
M.K .: This is how the Kremlin propaganda presents the case, wishing to confuse Russian citizens, deliberately directing them on the wrong track. In reality, of course, Putin, Lavrov and others who are involved in foreign policy are well aware that there are a number of concrete steps by Moscow that impede the improvement of Russia’s relations with the West and exacerbate the situation. In the EU, with documents in hand, they say: you have destroyed the architecture of European security, openly neglect the priority of human rights within the country. What, it would seem, is still possible to talk about – answer in essence to the claims expressed, and that’s it. But no, the Kremlin dodges in every possible way and even openly turns everything upside down, emphasizing its claims to an exclusive interpretation of norms and regulations. They say that we have our own human rights, democracy is “sovereign” and so on and so forth..
VV: Some analysts note that against the background of the constantly increasing US sanctions against Russia, the position of the European Union does not look so principled. what is your opinion?
M.K .: There is nothing surprising in the fact that Russia and the European Union are developing a little differently. 50% of the foreign trade of the Russian Federation falls on the EU. Brussels is heavily dependent on Moscow for gas supplies. EU countries consume about 30% of Russian gas. Of course, the economic interests of the parties are strongly intertwined, and this often prevents Brussels from making fundamental political decisions, which is what Putin is playing on. Any cracks in relations between the EU countries please the Kremlin, so it makes a lot of efforts to widen these gaps. Nevertheless, more than four years have passed since the start of a single policy within the framework of the European Union towards Russia, including sanctions pressure on it. And I do not think that global changes will suddenly occur in this policy, in particular, that (anti-Russian) sanctions will be taken and lifted in Brussels. But there will be more flexibility here, and on both sides, in the direction of a soft improvement in relations. However, for this process to gain momentum, Putin must change policies both domestically and abroad. The practice of tightening the screws, targeted repression and daily violations of human rights cannot be acceptable to the EU. This will always be an argument against improving bilateral economic relations, these are interrelated things. Let me remind you that all of Russia remains a member of the Council of Europe. And, of course, no one wants to expel us from there, if Putin does not make great efforts to this.
V.V .: Is there, in your opinion, a prospect for the normalization of Russian-American relations?
M.K .: There is always a perspective. The only question is when it will be possible to realize the enormous potential that lies in the cooperation of our two countries. Today, relations between the United States and Russia are at an all-time low. There are practically no halftones in them: there is only black and white. This is the situation that Putin created. The results of the elections to the lower house of the US Congress and the accompanying discussions on Russian policy clearly showed that Congress is virtually unified in its understanding that the Putin regime is evil for the United States. Therefore, obviously, there will be no compromises with the Kremlin in the foreseeable future. At least until the requirements set forth by Washington are fulfilled, namely: the resolution of the Ukrainian and Syrian crises, the end of interference in the elections of the United States and other Western countries. The picture here is simple. The American establishment absolutely does not accept Putin’s policies, and without its cardinal change, improvements in bilateral relations are not expected..