Interviews Politics

Alexander Nevzorov: "Russian opposition leaders wish they weren’t locked up… But they also wish to lock up the others"

Post photo 11 54 1080x720 - Александр Невзоров: "Российские оппозиционеры обеспокоены тем, что сейчас закрывают их, а не они закрывают"

Russian publicist Alexander Nevzorov explained in an interview with UNIAN why the Russians and the Ukrainians are not fraternal nations, and why it is impossible to build the “Russian world.”

Alexander Nevzorov was one of the most famous Russian journalists at the turn of the 1990s. His 600Seconds TV show was at the top of the ratings across the country. Nevzorov “took part” in almost all post-Soviet military conflicts, advocating, as he said, “the interests of the empire.” Now he is one of the few in Russia who call the Donbas militants by their real names: criminals and terrorists.

In an interview with UNIAN, Nevzorov reasons why it is impossible to build a “Russian world,” and why, sooner or later, Russia will give up on the Donbas militants and hand them over to the official Kyiv. According to the publicist, Putin will easily find the reasons for dumping Donbas and totally bury the Novorossiya myth. Nevzorov believes that in any scenario, Russia’s attempts to recreate the empire will be too costly.

Why has your perspective changed so much over time? In the early ’90s, you were an active advocate of the preservation of the Soviet Union, you visited Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and other hot spots with where Russia was involved directly… And now you have absolutely no support for the militants in Luhansk and Donetsk regions…

Whenever I’m asked this question (and I am, rather frequently), I give examples of many people. Starting with Max Planck, who started exploring the dark matter hoping to prove the absence and insignificance of nuclear factors. At first, Planck rigidly opposed the theory of nuclei and atoms, only to become later one of the world’s greatest physicists in this field. We know a lot of people that change their minds in matters much more serious than some politics, under the influence of hard facts, updated information, and the changing times. Let’s remember the great geologist, Charles Lyell, who has refused for a long tome to put up with the theory of glaciers, capable of carrying huge boulders over long distances. However, in the sixth edition of his study, Lyell honestly said that was wrong.

With respect to empire, I have a special approach, different from anyone else’s. Yes, I was a legionnaire of the empire and the last soldier of the empire, and, unlike all those who spill all this empty talk over this issue, I defended this empire and fought for it. I did everything for it to survive, but my experience showed me that there is nothing more fragile and senseless than the empire. There’s nothing difficult to dislodge it these days within two or three months. This form is unsustainable. As I took part in the collapse of the empire, and in various coups, I know how fast and easily it can be accomplished.

So, when we talk about what Russia does in Ukraine, we should understand that there could be any other country instead of Ukraine. Ukraine is only the sauce to an imperial dish, which Russia serves itself. Ukraine is a symptom of imperial ambitions but not Russia’s goal. It was necessary for the Kremlin to step firmly with its blood-stained tarpaulin boots, and it didn’t matter where. But they failed to do it in Ukraine.

To my great surprise, Ukraine was keen on resistance and brilliant victories. Had it not been Ukraine, Russia would be doing this to someone else. We see that it is in Ukraine where the Russian world has broken down. That is, the shroud of the Russian national idea will probably be decorated with Ukrainian embroidery, and also with some Arabic script.

The main motive will be Ukrainian national embroidery, because, in the process of these gangster-style developments in Donbas, it became clear that the “Russian world” lacks personnel. There is just a set of criminals, a certain number of absolutely ignorant and evil thugs. Russia isn’t able to offer anything else to the global history to bring to life its imperial designs. All these Girkin-like militant leaders, all these ridiculous Cossacks, all these thugs, thieves, and terrorists, who founded that criminal and terrorist den in Donbas – that’s everything Russia has in the 21st century. Nothing more.

So, are you saying that the idea of a “Russian world” is utopian?

“Russian world” can’t be built. There are plenty of reasons for that. One of these reasons is lab-tested in Donbas. It’s the lack of personnel. Because regular troops can’t be perceived seriously. We know the Russian army, and we know how this huge Russian army was defeated by a tiny Chechnya. This Chechnya has made Russia pay contributions, and this Chechnya has been making Russia turn a blind eye to what is happening in its territory.

The “Russian world” was defeated not only with the personnel factor. It is impossible in its core. Just like it’s now impossible to clone a dinosaur, despite all its power, the number of teeth and placoid scales. You can’t give him a chance to inhabit a forest park. It just won’t happen. A dinosaur will sure be shot, because no one needs one today. This form of life is unsustainable.

Is this your forecast for the “Russian” Donbas?

I think, Donbas, I think, will be purged. There’s also a faint hope that the terrorists will kill each other. As I’ve always said, the ideal way would be for the Russian troops to come to Donbas with the only aim of uniting with the ATO forces and breaking this criminal hive. Life is full of surprises. It is possible that this may as well be the case. Because Russian life is bursting at the seams.



But then the Russian president’s rating will fall, because people will think that Putin “has given up on the Russians,” “given up on Donbas”, “bowed down in front of the Americans”…

I think that he will find an explanation for his 86% [of the Russian citizens who support Vladimir Putin according to the polls]. He has a very good propaganda machine, and everything is alright with his diplomatic dodging skills. Therefore, he will find the necessary words. Especially, when it becomes clear that someone will have to be assigned responsibility for the downed Boeing, it will immediately become clear that all these people have nothing to do with the Russian authorities and that they are all just criminals and villains. It will be very interesting to see, whether the Kremlin hands these Russian Donbas “heroes” of the “Russian world” over to the official Kyiv in handfuls or one by one.

It does not matter whether Putin is good or bad. His past and his character don’t matter either. He believes that the imperial idea is worth being paid for with happiness, life and well-being of two or three or four generations. Clearly, this is taken from the so-called Great Russian culture, which is infected with such sentiments, and from Orthodoxy. There are plenty of factors, especially the philosophical and ideological ones. And I’m absolutely serious now. If we recall German Nazism, it would have been impossible without the German Romantics and the foundation created by these wonderful people. All the Nazi ideology initially came from the German genius, the first German attempts to connect philosophy and ideology.

Sometimes everything turns upside down. Putin is deeply committed to this imperial idea. Apparently, he sees his historic mission in it. The audience applauds him. This is true. This 86%  is not some sociological fiction. It’s just that the propaganda game has not been really ethical.

I wish he initially told these 86%, with all honesty, that everything will eventually result in the emergence of the great “Russian world,” and we may be astonishingly great, our well-being and prosperity we will be provided for hundreds of years ahead, as it lies in the abscess of national greatness that we need to harvest – only with the proviso that it may as well end really crappy, that for this abscess of national greatness the Russians will have to pay a high price: the lives, well-being, prosperity, opportunities to travel the world, and eat nice food, and provide education for their children… That we will get the “Russian World” anyway, but, like any empire, it would be fragile and could fall apart at the touch of a skillful finger…

But Putin chose not to elaborate, and this is perhaps the only claim against him that I could think of. Besides that, ha he has been doing his job perfectly: he has been sculpting this empire very carefully and meticulously.

He needed Crimea, not because he needs the peninsula, but the very fact of the annexation of some piece of land, as an example of imperial behavior. I must say it is very difficult. One thing is sculpting an empire of millions of serfs, similar in terms of their development to the indigenous peoples of Borneo and Papua. Another thing is molding a great empire of the feces that this day offers.Today, the empire lacks the number of factors it needs. Besides, Russia, unfortunately, or generally, fortunately, is powerless. This was proved during the Chechen war.

I do not want you to fall under the certain articles of the Russian Criminal Code, but still, I can’t but not ask you about the future of Crimea…

By asking this question, you put me in an awkward position anyway and push me to the banned action, since we have an article introduced to the Criminal Code for expressing certain thoughts. I don’t intend to experience the effects of criminal prosecution, so I will say nothing. You know all my thoughts on this subject.



In the context of thinking about your empire, how is modern Russia different from the Soviet Union, which so many people are so nostalgic about?

I have no nostalgia. I reminisce of both the good and the bad of the Soviet Union, equally. This was my Homeland, and I used to treat the word “Homeland” seriously. And if I treat something seriously, I fight for it. I have no nostalgia and delusions about that reality, which was in fact vile, unnatural, ruthless and stupid.

Fortunately, I have no Homeland now, as Russia has done nothing yet that has allowed me to grant it this honorary title. Let it try, then maybe I will. Meanwhile, Russia is just doing stupid things.

Why has Russia come to the state when there are only enemies on the outside, while there is this “spiritual bondage” and ostentatious Orthodoxy as one of the pillars of the State?

Orthodoxy in Russia is not ostentatious. And you should not think that on the one hand, there is something sublime and spiritual, which makes people better, and on the other – there are clerics like Gundyaeev or Chaplin, who are dancing their spooky cancan, sporting golden coats and beards. You should not think that these are two separate phenomena. All of this is the core of Orthodoxy. Aggressive, intolerant and aggressive stance is the real Orthodoxy.

Recall the ideologist of Russian Nazism and chauvinism, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. At first, he was a completely normal person… But having witnessed the public execution of a group of revolutionaries, Dostoyevsky was terrified. This fear has turned him into a friend of the regime. Read his works, and you will see that Orthodoxy knows no pity. And not because it is some sort of perversion. This is his doctrine, his essence.

You came up with with some abstract nonexistent religion, something spiritual. But religion and spirituality is actually exactly what today’s Russia is showing. It’s in Girkin, in Cossack terrorists, in covering the Syrian sands with bombs… This is what the Orthodoxy is!

Is it difficult living in Russia for such an outspoken atheist as you?

I have no such difficulties. I have never faced rejection of my position. Furthermore, I understand that almost everyone here is an atheist, although a concealed one.

The world is saved from Russia due to the fact that Orthodoxy is absolutely bogus. Yes, it is terrible, but fortunately, it’s not real. All the people who call themselves believers, are mostly a sham. We know, based on the history of the Church, the lives of the saints, how believers should behave, what behavioral characteristics we should see. But what we see is that all the things that today’s Orthodox Christians do have nothing in common with those characteristics.

After almost two years of war against Ukraine, Russia suddenly remembered an old idea of “fraternal nations” although, before that, they tried to “liberate” Ukraine from the Ukrainians. Will there be any effect of this rhetoric?

We are no fraternal nations. We must understand it. The Russians and the Ukrainians have their own national heroes, their national priorities, things important and unimportant for the nation. These are completely different nations, which got connected by accident, through geographic proximity. These are the nations with different culture, different life views. They really have nothing much in common. If someone wishes to fool their brains with this “brotherhood,” I have no such illusions.

I understand that the Ukrainians have the right, for many decades, to flinch from the very word “Russia,” and hate it as well. And this is right. I know it’s not my fault and not the fault of the people who are close to me, but still I fall under responsibility for the fact that Russia has done in Donbas: for those deaths, the terrorists who hide behind hospitals, street vendors and insanity of the “Russian world.” Unfortunately, I, too, must bear responsibility. And Ukraine has the right to despise me and hate me. It is bitter, but, because I’m a reptile, maybe I can live with that.

But in general, one should not draw illusions that we will be great friends, again. We will not be forgiven, and rightly so. This can’t be forgiven.

A lot of the Russian opponents of the current president of the Russian Federation give advice and criticize Ukraine… Many believe that Ukraine can build the “other Russia without Putin.” Why did you refrain from giving any advice?

I do not give advice to anyone. It is pointless. How can we give advice to a foreign country? Who am I to this country to give advice? Also, I do not belong to the opposition. On this issue, I’m a sided mathematician, an observer who was offered to make calculations and draw conclusions. My conclusions are what they are. For me, the picture is very clear.

However, I’m not ready for and I will never go into opposition because, after all, I have a right to despise the empire, Putin has a right to pray for this empire. Perhaps the consequences of my contempt and his prayers will be different, but he will answer for his actions, he is quite a brave and courageous man. Besides, I remember this opposition, as they burst into happy laughter, watching me being arrested, the TV shows and newspapers being closed up, and the parliament building being shelled. I remember that opposition, they are no better than today’s reactionaries. There is nothing better about them. They wish they weren’t locked up… But they also wish to lock up the others.

Look, Garry Kasparov is not a stupid man. But listen to this bloodthirsty and irresponsible tone, so familiar to us, in his latest appeal for post-Putin Russia. We remember that Marat and Robespierre were finished liberals, that they prayed to freedom. But they were ready to have thousands executed so that no one prevented them from praying. And I’m not ready to do so. I believe that the only concern should be about the possibilities of development and prosperity. Everything else is worth a penny.

You were one of the most famous journalists in the ’90s, and then you took a long pause, you have been researching the horses … Why are you back in journalism?

Yes, I’ve been researching the horses, then I took up the study of humans and other animals. Honestly, I thought that I was through with journalism and that my grave in journalism has long been covered with me-nots. It turned out differently.

When this information war against Ukraine started, I came back because of Donbas.

I regained my positions that I had had before my long absence quite easily. There came the offers, but I’m a very picky mercenary. I may accept or not accept the offer. I am very hard to seduce, and it’s totally not about money.

Alexander Nevzorov / Photo Lidia

Alexander Nevzorov / Photo Lidia

In part, in this story with Donbas, they were trying really hard to recruit me to that side. All of my buddies from all the wars I’ve gone through – OMON [police task force] guys from Riga, from Vilnius, Transnistrian heroes – all of them went to Donbas. However, I immediately sensed that this smells sharply of traditional thuggery, the smell that can’t be mistaken. There was no such smell in Transnistria and in all other conflicts. But here, in the Donbas case, it stinks with the Orthodoxy and thuggery. The mixture of these two flavors has completely repulsed me. So I had no will to participate, but it turned out that I was interested in it, got involved and “went for a buffet.”

Roman Tsymbaliuk

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