Russian journalist, political analyst and publicist Andrei Piontkovsky was forced to leave Russia. Mark Feigin, his lawyer, said that Piontkovsky had to leave the country due to the fact that the Prosecutor’s Office found signs of extremism in his article ‘The bomb, ready to explode‘ on the website of the ‘Echo of Moscow’ radio station. The article was dedicated to the future of Chechnya as part of Russia. In the interview given to ‘Apostrof’, Andrei Piontkovsky did not disclose all the details of his escape and the country where lives now. He said that the prosecution against him was initiated by the Chechen ‘parliament’. According to Piontkovsky, a sharp conflict is now brewing in Russia between the security forces and Putin because of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and this conflict may even result in a new war in Chechnya. But any war is martial law, which will be used to complete the mopping of the liberals.
— Now the Russian media actively hype the topic about unrest in Kyiv which has already been called the ‘3rd Maidan’. What do you think, is its appearance still possible?
— You rightly pointed out that these events were the subject No. 1 in the Russian propaganda in the last days. But as always, it distorts the facts and the information is fabricated. The Russian propaganda now quite innocently gives out itself, confirming that this so-called ‘3rd Maidan’ is actually an old dream of Putin. After all, the violent overthrow of the government agencies in war conditions will result in real collapse of the state and will be a huge gift to the aggressor. I am sure that Ukraine is fully aware of this, and, despite all the difficulties and huge disappointment of society, the Ukrainians will not venture on the ‘3rd Maidan’.
— Lately we see a whole wave of persecutions against the Russian liberals and opposition leaders: Kasyanov, Khodorkovsky, Koch. And now a criminal case was instituted against you because of the article about Kadyrov… How would you comment these actions?
— It is a curious moment that most repressive initiatives come exactly from Kadyrov. With regard to me, for example, the persecution was initiated also by the Chechen ‘parliament’.
I have been saying a lot of things about our authorities for years – and I am still alive, sound as a bell and on the loose. But when I said several nasty things about Kadyrov, the whole Chechen ‘parliament’ demanded to punish me. This requirement was expressed by the so-called Speaker of the Parliament, ‘lord with a dog’, as I call him, Mr. Daudov, involved in so many extra-judicial killings of the Chechen authorities’ opponents. And what do we see? The federal government, like a dog, rushes to fulfill the will of Daudov and the so-called Chechen parliament. Our federal agencies – the Duma, the Investigative Committee, the General Prosecutor, FSB try hard to take my case. All this once again confirms the metaphor of which I speak for many years – Russia, in fact, is a part of Chechnya.
— What, in your opinion, Kadyrov is afraid of?
— Kadyrov knows that he is long-hated by the representatives of security forces who believe that Putin stole their victory, when he gave so much power to Kadyrov and his fighters. Therefore, he now tries to show himself very fit and loyal to Putin, who is his only ally in Moscow. But Kadyrov does not always make a neat job, because such omnipotence of the Chechens in the Russian territory irritates not only the security forces, and the fifth column (‘liberal devils’, as Kadyrov calls them), but also the average Russian, who just does not like that the representatives of the most ‘equitable’ republic call the tune.
— Can we assume in this case that all these crackdown on liberals are just the preparations of the Kremlin to something big?
— Putin fell into a trap in Ukraine and then in Syria. He plays with the West not chess but poker, thus he has to raise the stakes all the time. He has to show the Russian people some victories. Against the backdrop of the collapse of the economy and a significant degradation of the living standards, his power can be kept for some time only by demonstration of some foreign policy ‘wins’. And this requires him to go for a bigger adventure. And this adventure may happen in Syria or Ukraine. If the ‘3rd Maidan’ succeeds, then it will be Ukraine. Perhaps the theater of military operations will unfold in Chechnya. Security officials may convince Putin or unleash the third Chechen war against his will. In any case, the war means the martial law, which suggests quite a different attitude to the so-called national-traitors.
Therefore, the most likely explanation for what is happening is the preparation of the society for the full sweep of those who are called the fifth column (the so-called liberals) through the introduction of martial law. People need to be gradually prepared mentally for the big terror.
— So, this is a kind of a battle for the rating ahead of elections?
— Forget about the elections. The elections are an absolute imitation and do not determine anything. Putin imposed his political agenda about the elections to the part of liberals and the world public. But the real political agenda in Russia is something completely different. The real agenda are the military adventures and decisions made by Kremlin.
— Why does Putin need Kadyrov at all?
Do you remember how he appeared from nowhere in 1999? The terrorists blew up our houses (in the reality Russian secret services did that) and all of a sudden a heroic military officer appeared and stopped the terrorists, calmed down Caucasus, proclaimed the war. Putin cannot declare Kadyrov as an enemy and liquidate him as some military bosses would like – that would mean that Putin deceived us all of these 15 years and that all of his politics failed. Closing the ‘Kadyrov’ project is a solution required by the security forces. They use the murder of Nemtsov (organized by themselves) as a pretext for the closure of the ‘Kadyrov’ project. It is obvious that the direct executors of the murder were captured- and they are Kadyrov’s people. Investigators want to question people close to Kadyrov, and Kadyrov himself. And it is a sharp political conflict, which unfolds now between military bosses and Putin. This conflict is a lot sharper then the conflict between Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko.
— You were correct in your article on ‘Echo of Moscow’ saying that this is ‘a bomb ready to explode’…
— Yes, that’s right. I apparently raised a very painful topic.
— And what do you plan to do next?
— My work depends only from my computer, skype and absolutely does not depend on my geographical location, so nothing will change.
— Bashar Assad declared that he is ready for a ceasefire. Does it mean anything real?
— I don’t think so. It is only a new level of demagogy of Assad and Kremlin. It is clear to everyone that Kremlin came to Syria on 30th of September. They don’t fight ISIS at all. In November the investigators of American financial intelligence published a revelation about the cooperation of Kremlin with ISIS and coordination of the selling of oil to Assad. They destroy not ISIS, but the pro-western opposition to Assad. The whole world watches the destruction of the city Aleppo, which was the centre of the opposition. If the behaviour of Assad and Putin is predictable, then the behaviour of Obama and Kerry is absolutely shameful in this situation. They conduct endless ‘constructive’ negotiations with their friend Sergey [Sergey Lavrov, minister of foreign affairs of Russia], who deserves to be sent to Haag since a long time. I personally would send them both – Lavrov-Ribbentrop and Kerry. Because Aleppo became the symbol of crimes of Assad, Putin, Obama and Kerry – similar as Sarajevo became the symbol of crimes of Milosevic and the silent West together with the UN.
Lavrov does not hide anything. He keeps repeating on all the press-conferences that they will destroy terrorists regardless of the signed agreements. According to Lavrov, the terrorists keep threatening Russia and should be destroyed as soon as possible before they come to Russia. But in Aleppo there is no people who threaten Russia and who belong to ISIS. Assad repeats the same: ”We are ready for a ceasefire, but there can be no ceasefire with terrorists.“
— What does Assad want to reach with such statements?
— The whole thing is that Assad’s definition of terrorists is ‘Terrorist is everyone who fights against me’. Moscow also adopted this absolutely cynical and impudent definition. Now everyone who is fighting Assad should be destroyed. Now USA tries to please Assad and Putin, who physically kill western-oriented people, whom the West called up to the fight with Assad and to whom they tried to provide some insignificant support. This is a huge betray of Sunnis majority of Syria. And the single result is that the Sunnite youth, frustrated by the betrayal, will join ISIS. The actions of Assad, Putin, and unfortunately USA, cannot be called a fight with ISIS, but the work for strengthening of ISIS. This can be a good lesson for Ukraine.
— What do you mean?
— Ukraine needs the support of the West – from both Europe and USA. The support (maybe not always sufficient) is provided – both politically, economically and even military. You have to develop these relationships – there are people and institutions, who want to support Ukraine and stand for the values, which were represented by maidan. But the behaviour of Obama and Kerry in Syria should warn you, that these people can betray you in any moment.
— What is your forecast for Syria? We can observe that the frontline is approaching the border with Turkey…
— Yes, in relations with Turkey the USA behaves not as an ally. Putin provokes Turkey – he kills Turkmens, who are ethnically close to the Turks, provides weapons to the Kurds and pushes them to move to the Turkish border, and the USA restrains Turkey with all the means. Turkey is an ally of the USA in NATO, but Washington calls to both sides – Moscow and Ankara – to show restraint. Both Brussels and Washington warn Turkey that it cannot count on article 5 of the NATO Charter in this conflict.
Please see also: ‘Why Do Assad and PKK Strike Turkey’
— What is the Putin’s interest in this Turkish provocation? Erdogan has in fact already made it clear that these games are dangerous to him…
— Firstly, he would like to humiliate the NATO. Why does he go there? In order to prove to himself, to his guys from the ‘Ozero’ [Lake] cooperative and to the Russian TV viewers that he is a big ‘decision-maker’. For the time being, he did succeed because the war is unfolding Putin’s script. It is why he had come to Syria: to help Assad and to destroy the entire pro-Western opposition. In order that only two players will remain in Syria — Assad and ISIS. And then Assad and Putin will throw the international community into a dilemma: ‘Well, whom are you going to support, us or those who cut off your heads?’. The Turkey is the only one force that can break this game. Therefore, the Americans keep a tight lid on it.
— So, Putin outplays them all for now?
— Well, it only seems that way. All these tactical victories beat a path to a huge strategic defeat. It was obvious that he had lost in Ukraine, that there is no ‘Russian world’ or ‘Novorossiya’, therefore it was necessary to go into the Syria and to demonstrate there some kind of ‘victories’ in order to keep the support of the Russian population. However, this time the economy fell so seriously that high unemployment rate and food shortages have arisen. After all, Syria is too far. Probably a Russian respectable citizen feels nice crunching popcorn, drinking beer and watching on the TV how Putin defeats them all, but when there is neither popcorn nor beer (or even more elementary things) then all quickly forget about Syria and start asking – what is happening in our country?
— Nevertheless, is the internal protest increasing?
— It is difficult to judge. The situation is really getting worse seriously. It is impossible to predict when exactly the protest will break out. A classic example – at the end of February of 1917, when Lenin gave a lecture to the young Swiss Social Democrats, they asked him: ‘And when the revolution will start?’. His answer was: ‘We, the olds, will not live to see it but you are young and you will see’. He returned home after the lecture and found a telegram from Petrograd that the revolution had begun. However, what happened? Nothing special – bread was not delivered to the bakeries of Saint Petersburg for two days. It was an incident since there was a lot of bread, but a train with it got stuck somewhere. It is very difficult to predict when the patience of the masses will run out. Nevertheless, the vector of changes inexorably goes in the certain direction.
Original article by Svetlana Sheremetyeva, ‘Apostrophe’, translated by maomam and other volunteers