It’s been an interesting week here in Helsinki, where I have been attending the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum. In addition to showing my short documentary film on the Nord Stream project (which produced a spirited debate), I had the opportunity to speak with the leader of the United Civic Front, the grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who had come to Finland to support his friend for a Europarliament election. I took the opportunity to ask Garry for his thoughts on Russia’s ambitious pipeline projects.
– Garry, the future of the gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic now depends to a large extent on the Finns and the Swedes. Here in Finland, as in other countries bordering the Baltic Sea, this project is being broadly discussed, especially from an ecological perspective. Yet very few are well informed about it in Russia. How would you explain this?
In Russia, nothing gets broadly discussed. One should not besurprised that information about Nord Stream doesn’t get through. Nolarge projects in Russia undergo any kind of environmental expertexamination. This concerns both Nord Stream, as well as the facilities inSochi… The Putinite regime isn’t interested in such a discussion.
BothNord Stream and South Stream – these are typical Putinite scams. Let alone Russia itself does not have enough gas to fill these pipes. These are without a doubt such geopolitical projects that inmany ways have such a commercial component, associated with thepersonal interests of Putin and his clan. And that’s why both Schroederand Lipponen have attached themselves there. (…)
In building up thissystem, Putin is hoping that he’ll succeed in becoming a monopolist indeliveries of gas to Europe. In so doing, it is understood that therealization of such a project is going to bring calamity to Russiaitself, both environmentally and economically. Even those remnants ofgas that Russia has, they’ll go into the pipe.
– Vladimir Milov [former deputy minister of energy of the RF–G.P.]told me that the Nord Stream project was from the outsetdisadvantageous for Russia itself.
There’s nothing surprising in this: this agreement is advantageousonly for those who signed it. That is precisely the main problem – andwe’re attempting to explain this both inside our own country andabroad: Putin represents not Russia, but the corrupt clans that areruling today in Russia. Therefore, any actions of Putin’s – these arenot an attempt to stand up for the interests of Russia, but thecreation of that system, when Russian resources begin to work for theinterests of a narrow group of people.
– If people in Russia understand this, then how to explain theposition of not understanding the essence of the Putinite power bycertain European politicians?
Obviously, we are dealing here with an integrated problem. Thepolitical and financial interests of many people in power -in Finland,Sweden, Austria, Germany, other European countries, and indeed beyondthe ocean as well, they are directly tied up with the interests of thepeople representing the Putinite regime. Putin has turned out to be avery sophisticated businessmen, who not only created the hoax aboutdemocracy in the country, but was also able to get representatives ofboth the political and the business-elite of the western world involvedin his shady business-systems. The lobbying activity of the Putiniteregime abroad deserves to get top marks. Hitler used tanks, Putin usesbanks. And it must be said that this activity is going to leave anextremely heavy mark on the history of the mutual relations ofdemocracies with non-democratic regimes. When 20 years ago we hopedthat everything would change in the country, it seemed we would be ableto import all the best things from abroad. It turned out the opposite:we exported all the worst things. In the West, many people accept thePutinite gifts of the corrupt regime.
– If the Nord Stream project happens, for how long is it going to strengthen Putin’s positions?
I think that nothing is going to strengthen Putin’s positions.Because historically, – if a miracle doesn’t happen, for example athree-fold increase in oil prices, – historically he is doomed. But thequestion is how quickly will Russia rid itself of Putinism? The fact isthat Putinism can exist even without Putin. It is understood thatMedvedev, who uses liberal rhetoric, is the same kind of enemy ofdemocracy and open society as Putin. It’s just that the commercialinterests of different groups are starting to collide, and the regimeis going to need a scapegoat. Him may become Putin.
But we must notdelude ourselves: we’re fighting not with Putin, but with a system thatis being associated today with his name. And I, to be honest, doubt nowthat these ambitious corrupt projects – including Nord Stream, andSouth Stream, and Sochi – are ever going to be realized. Becausestanding up in the way of their realization are both objective economicobstacles and other problems that are going to stop them in the end.The main thing, I think, that we will be able to achieve in Russia isthat such projects, in the event that they do get realized some day,would serve Russia, and not the ruling grouping.