which President Putin speaks to representatives of West and his real actions
very much differ from each other.
Russia needs a President,
who does what he speaks" Sara Mendelson, professor of University of
Taffetas, one of the leading American experts studying civil society and
activity of non-governmental organizations. Especially for " Washington
In America the most inconsistent opinions on an event in Russia now are roaming
... What do you think about it?
Recently I have published short article, whose basic idea was thus: in USA, many
people (basically, representatives of business circles) consider now, that all
is normal in Russia and Putin is very good for business. And consequently Putin
is our friend. They are not excited over events in Chechen Republic, story of
"Echo of Moscow", "NTV" and similar things. For them, the
most important, that chaos in the country became less.
there are people, who count themselves liberals. And in this group, sensation of
fear has appeared. We have completely other impression from an event. We very
much are anxious with war in Chechen Republic. And when we think of relations
between a society and state in Russia, we have a feeling, that FSB is becoming
even more strongly and more strongly... And it is unpleasant to us!
I had written this article, my girlfriend, with whom I am engaged in business,
between her and me started dispute. And she told me, that my anxiety has not
been understood: "Businessmen are not so worried. They think, that now in
Russia the situation became better than ever earlier!" I answered: "Very
much can be. But if people, who are engaged in business in Russia, think, that
struggle against corruption is possible without free mass media, without a civil
freedom, they are going to experience deep disappointment.
to this is impossible neither in Russia, nor in any other country of the world.
If they do not reflect on openness in struggle against corruption, authority of
law and use of democratic norms in business. It is not so good for business. And
sooner or later, they will understand, that they cannot do business freely!"
"Thank God, that civil society, free press and other similar concepts are
not only and not so much America. These are not American, but is general and
universal principles and norms "
One of popular arguments in Russia: Americans try to apply unique culture and
historical traditions in the country, only American, whose recipes are simply
unacceptable for Russia.
Thank God, that civil society, free press and other similar concepts is not only
and not so much America. These are not American, is general universal principles
and norms. They exist and operate in Europe, in many countries of Latin America,
Asia and Africa. Partly, they are present even in Russia.
time I visited Russia in June. Before my departure, meeting of President Putin
and of representatives of not governmental organizations (NGO) has been held.
Representatives of authority, who have organized this meeting, wanted, that
people thought that in Russia there is no civil society. The authority dreams to
it is wrong! We shall recollect petition against sanction of import of
radioactive waste products to Russia. It was incredible! I collected information
on it: as the ecological organizations, "Apple" worked... This is a
fine proof that a civil society exists in Russia. But selective commissions in
regions and Central selective commission did not want realization of referendum.
Also it is very insulting, that Central Electoral Committee, State Duma and
President so have easily rejected wishes of many citizens of Russia.
I worry, that my government - - so up to the end has not understood American
government, that all the same has taken place in Russia. Our public practically
knows nothing about the problem of import of radioactive waste products to
Russia. Also I read much that occurs in Chechen Republic. There are many
very good Russian non-governmental organizations, which actively work in Chechen
if Russian authority really, instead of in words, would like to help
non-governmental organizations, it would transfer this question in sphere of
taxes. No more than that. It is just necessary to understand, that NGO is not
business and it is necessary to construct tax system so that NGO could conduct
As the story with import of nuclear waste products to Russia has shown, the
authority seriously is not inclined to perceive that non-governmental
organizations do. What should take place, that NGO and Russian authority have
constructed relations and worked with each other, how it is occurring in entire
When I was in Russia in June, members of Committee of soldier's mothers held
meeting with me. They told me something very interesting. It appears, that even
during the time of Gorbachev, they had very good relations with government. Even
during time of Yeltsin. Still one year ago, they had familiar woman in
Administration of President, with whom they could discuss all their problems.
They were pleased, that they have "person" in authority. But some time
back, she disappeared from presidential administration. And other employees of
administration declared to representatives of Committee of soldier's mothers:
"we do not know, where is she and we do not want to speak with you".
And all! They now do not have contact with authority. Think about it!
is very bad mark. Russian authorities do not want to work with the most serious,
most good public organizations. Certainly, it is only my impression. But logic
of authority is clear: they cannot supervise public organizations. Only one
category of NGO is interesting to them - those in whose creation took part
authority and with which can be operated by it. How can we change this situation?
I do not have ready recipes. But I think, that it is necessary to continue to
speak truth to authority. And it is also necessary for us to do so in USA. It is
necessary to do it gradually and constantly. I am not revolutionary; I am
opponent of any violence.
I have found Russian NGO very much tired, I could tell. They understand, that
authorities are not necessary. However when elections to State Duma begin,
everyone require voices of voters. In this period, authority aspires to support
civil society. Probably it is the answer to your question, as everyone requires
fair monitoring of elections and independent observers. It is not only the
occurred in Chile, in Bulgaria, in Pakistan, in Southern Africa... Recollect
that was in USA at last presidential elections for Florida, it was very
unpleasant. And voices of NGO at this moment are very well audible. Therefore,
NGO should think of long-term purposes. However without free mass media, it is
very difficult for them to speak with people. And if people in Russia up to now
do not understand: what is happening and with what really are engaged NGO,
relation of authority to them is very difficult to change.
In Russia, there are many cases, when authority creates "pocket"
public organizations to simulate public work. In particular, public
organizations were created at Ministry of Atomic Energy, which protected idea of
import of nuclear waste products. This is Russian invention or global experience?
it is usual tactics of many governments. And in Russia, it occurs not only
around of a referendum about import NWP. The parallel union of journalists
recently was created. Majority of people cannot see differences between public
organizations. It is very important to understand: " who is who " and
to distinguish "your" and "our".
What is your personal impression from an event in Russia?
(Laughs - WOL)
Certainly, there are great changes... It is necessary to tell, that I go to Russia 2-3
times per one year. First time I went there still at Brejnev time. The big
changes have begun in autumn of 1999, even before presidential elections. There
are some symptoms: one of them - my relation with colleague is scientific. Every
day to communicate with them becomes more difficult. People prefer not to speak
about some things simply. I think, that it is result of activity of
administration of Putin.
example, people prefer either to support or to not discuss at all the problem of
war in Chechen Republic. In a society, there is any atmosphere of fear. There
are constant fears that complexities from FSB can arise, with tax police... It
is better not to speak superfluous things; otherwise there can be troubles. The
most different troubles: active worker of society "Memorial" was
killed in Chechen Republic.
time of Yeltsin to the government was all the same, what do NGO. It was not so
good, but it was and it is not so bad. Certainly, there were also exceptions -
affairs of Nikitina, Pasko and some other cases of persecution. But during time
of Putin, situation has changed qualitatively. I am now editing the book about a
civil society in post-communist countries. The moment, when relations between
authority and NGO in Russia were simply remarkable was, in comparison with what
that occurred in Byelorussia and Central Asia. Now situation is the same in
Russia, as in others post-Soviet states. I have personal impression that
Byelorussian tendencies now appear in Russia. Byelorussia is an extreme, extreme
form of an event in Russia.
there is an impression, that it is very difficult for Russian NGO to receive
financing from American welfare funds. Is it the tendency?
I can understand, that people in Russian NGO have felt, that they have problem
with finance. Especially it is unpleasant to me that requirements of sponsors
have become tougher, and real means became less. It is necessary to understand:
whence there is this money. There is Fund of Soros, Fund of Makartur - these
sources of financing are independent of the government of USA. And I have an
impression that they have money for Russian NGO. But, if we speak about their
money USAID, actually Congress of USA allocates this money. In the Congress very
badly understand, how these means for support of Russian public organizations
are important. We should work with senators and congressmen, it is necessary to
inform them. "I dream, that "Gazprom" and “Lukoil" have
started to work for Russian children".
What did you wish for Russia?
People now living in Russia are very rather poor. I recently have read, that now
they occupy only 70th place in the world, on a standard of well-being.
But Russia is very rich country. It is the largest world exporter of gas, it
takes third place in the world on export of petroleum. Paradox - country is
very rich, and people are very poor. And my first dream is that people should
begin to live rich. Before Norway in 70th years opened oil fields, it
was the poor country - now it is very rich country. And it too is northern
country, as well as Russia. I dream, that "Gazprom" and "Lukoil"
have started to work for Russian children.
Second dream is that in Russia should appear the president, with other past, so
that he was not Soviet, but post-Soviet person. And he should not be the comer
from KGB. Possibly it was not bad if he had an operational experience in
Duma, or was public politician - I do not know... But I have noticed, that those
words, which Putin speaks to representatives of West and his real affairs very
much differ from each other. Russian needs a President, who does what he speaks.
And the difference between words and affairs of President Putin is now too much?
In my opinion, yes! He is able to speak, if it is possible to be expressed,
"in Western way". He knows, that what West wants to hear from him.
About Chechen Republic, he accurately overlooks. He says: "It is important
for me to construct a democratic society in Russia! ". And Mr. Blair, and
Mr. Bush, and Mr. Shreder joyfully exclaim: "Excellent! Mr. Putin is
interested in democracy!"
coming back to your question: Well-to-do population, good policies... Third
dream - that civil society has helped to achieve realization of the first and
the second. I do not want, that situation in Russia should be as in America or
like that in France. May be, I would like, that the situation in Russia was, as
in Italy - there is much that is pleasant for me. In Italy life is well, there
people are engaged in their affairs and their own politics, and that is the
reason that there is a strong civil society, and politicians are all the same
working for people, and not for themselves.