Vladimir Yakunin’s Cambridge speech

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Vladimir Yakunin's Cambridge speech

We publish the full transcript of Vladimir Yakunin‘s Cambridge speech and interview.

He starts by thanking for the invitation and expressing his condolences on the losses London has suffered recently, most recently in the terrible fire. He notes that Russia has great compassion for these losses – because it has been through many wars, seen many casualties.


VIY: I suppose this is absolutely clear, that the world is coming through unbelievable tectonic changes nowadays. It is so unstable that nobody can dare to say what will happen even in 10 years, needless to say in 100 years.

Today I saw a beautiful photo on the Union’s premises, with a photo of well-known classic of economy, Mr Keynes. I never learned that he was a graduate of this university. In his article ‘What will be the economic possibilities for our grandchildren’ he stated that in 100 years society, people, will work only 3 hours per day, 15 hours per week, and people will stop fighting for survival, and the possession with money will be considered as a semi criminal disease, and that was written in 1930.

Nowadays you see the world is not that clean. That is, the world is more difficult and complex. And you of course, being younger generation, you are always hearing a lot of politicians words from politicians, that the future belongs to you. I should confess that my generation is figuratively speaking stepping down and giving to your hands a future which is not that simple, a future full of controversies, but of course a future full of possibilities. It was always like that.

We possibly will talk today about Russia, we will talk about changes in the world of politics and the economy, but the major thing which brings me here is that I am lecturing in many different countries, universities, and I am fresh from Beijing for example. And I should say that, it doesn’t matter where you are meeting young people, the concerns more or less are all the same. People are thinking about the future, about fate, about possibilities. I hope and I think that you, the students of this reputable high school have tremendous opportunities for self-development and achieving the highest possible levels.

With this, possibly, I am going to finish with my introduction, with one final remark: we are living in a world where to my mind the most essential value is the value and possibility to listen to each other. Different does not mean enemy. When our diplomats, when our politicians are starting to behave like fighters on the street, that is the end of diplomacy or end of practical policy.

Dialogue, ability to understand the position of the other, maybe you do not agree with this position, but at least to try to understand what is the motive, is the most essential element in any political processes.

Being head of the department for state governance, I can assure you we are facing the same problems back in Russia. And I don’t know if any of you followed the latest free discussion of the president with the people, like interview, but what is essential, again, an attempt to understand the others. And that is my final word, I am ready to answer your questions, and excuse me if my English is not as perfect as yours, I will, nevertheless try to at least be understandable.

Q: Thanks for coming in Dr Yakunin, I’d like to start off in the realm of International Relations. Russia played an increasingly active role in world affairs recently, in Syria and elsewhere, where do you see Russia’s role at the moment?

VIY: Listen, it is inevitable that a country like Russia, like the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, should be active in international relations, because the politics is structured like that, and very often I am asked why Russia intervened with Syria at all – maybe that is features of a kind of rising imperial mindset. Of course I cannot answer for the leaders who were taking those decisions, but being Russian, and knowing something about Russian history, about contemporary history, I can tell you that the fact is: Terrorism has no religion, terrorism has no nationality. This is terrorism, and for Russia, which suffered through the very difficult period of the disintegration of the Former Soviet Union, when we had fighting wars over all the borders of Russian republics and Russia itself, internally, inside the Soviet Union we feel this very very strong. And this kind of intervention was basically bound by the idea that Russia persuaded the leader of Syria, Assad, to give up chemical weapons. To my mind our leaders were hoping they can be part of the coalition fighting terrorism in Syria. That’s why Russia appeared there.

Q: So on that, do you think that the role of the US could be closer tied with Russia, fighting terrorism?

VIY: Listen, this is a question for both sides. But I am positive only the united, not even military forces, because terrorism cannot be fought by only military power – it is the climate in society, it is understanding as I said, terrorism has no religion, has no citizenship, and of course, you know, we are seeking more cooperation between countries. I cannot say that Russia is a perfect country, or decision-making process is the best, but nevertheless I think Russia was being sincere when it said we would like to be part of international forces to fight terrorism.

Q: And one of the vehicles of fighting terrorism is through the United Nations, and Russia has increasingly wielded its veto a lot on the UN security council, do you think the UN is fit for purpose, and is it even useful for Russia?

VIY: Listen, we should define terrorism which is internationally acknowledged as terrorism, for example Islamic State, which is prohibited in Russia and which is considered to be a terrorist organisation all over the world. But when we are talking about a sovereign country, whether Syria, whether I like Assad or not, this is a sovereign country, a member of the United Nations, and you know it is not appropriate when just one side or one organisation, outside the United Nations, is taking decisions – you know – those are bad guys, those are good guys, and that is the position that forces Russia to sometimes take this position – sometimes alone, sometimes not alone. And that is the status quo after the World War 2, but I am absolutely positive to say that Russia never protected terrorism.

What we observe now in different parts of the world, when, say, what is going on in Libya (I was there several times I can answer), what is going on in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, that is tremendously dangerous, and if somebody thinks I am too far, I am beyond the ocean, they cannot hurt me, that is not true. Terrorism is spreading like a cancer, we should fight terrorism, but we should not take advantage to say we are so powerful so we can dictate any country what should be their policy, who should be the leader of the country, if the person is elected that is democracy. If he is forcefully pushed out of that with the usage of foreign forces, that is not democracy to my mind.

Q: Are you alluding to Ukraine and Crimea there?

VIY: You know that is also referring to Ukraine, maybe it is difficult to understand, but Ukraine actually never was a separate sovereign state, only very short period of time after the 1917 revolution. And that was always considered as part of the Russian empire, the culture is the same, the fate is the same, the language of course with some deviations dialects, is the same, history is the same and I well remember the start of these events. I was shocked by what was going on there. I am even more shocked now when the mother of one of my young employees, this was when I was working with RZhD, and this lady was constantly sending money to her mother in Ukraine, the situation was very difficult there. And one day she came to me in tears, saying her mother said, listen I don’t want to talk to occupants – to her daughter. That is not normal. But you are correct, that is also a very very difficult situation, and there is no straightforward decision about that.

Q: So, do you think the people of Ukraine should be allowed to self determine and split from Russia and move towards a more European future?

VIY: Listen, I suppose that choice between the European Union or further cooperation with Russia was artificially created. The problem was not in that, and now objectively, you know, considering what is going on in Ukraine, we see dreadful decline in economy, dreadful decline in social order, dreadful decline in all features of human life. You know I suppose, not EU, no Ukrainians, no Russians, were seeking that kind of settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. And even more, I suppose that we have a very good example of Georgia, where the relations between Georgia and Russia were also very very difficult at that time, nowadays there is no actual problems, why? Mr Sakasshvili, the lover of tie-eating, he is not there. So sometimes you know that is some political force or institute which forces the people to behave in some way.

Q: Some people would say that is also the case in Crimea where a referendum overwhelmingly supported the Russian annexation by something like 98% do you think that was done by coercion, or not?

VIY: Whatever you say about this referendum the truth you know possibly about that, there were no one casualty during referendum and during adoption of Crimea to Russia, no casualties at all. It was fact and this acknowledged by foreign experts, that vast majority of Crimean population wanted to come back from Russia. To my mind it would never occur were it not for the situation in Ukraine itself. People were terrified. And people were afraid. One of the first acts that was adopted after the new administration was established in Kiev. There was a law prohibiting Russian language, and the vast majority of the population in Crimea were Russian-speaking. And so that added this tension and that resistance on the part of the people from Crimea. 

Q: As a result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea the US State Dept issued some sanctions on various prominent Russians, including yourself, how do sanctions affect you personally.

VIY: I was one of the five first to be sanctioned. Because i never learned what was the cause of the sanction because i never had anything to do neither with the policy of Ukraine or you know Crimea referendum, you know it was funny for me. At that time I was head of the biggest railway company and we were collaborating with Ukrainian Railways very well, besides I was head of the international union of railways – worldwide – American railways included. So for me it was kind of a joke. But, when, you know the sanctions were continued and new sectors of the economy, new people, started to be included, that was not funny at all because that created real problems in communications. Besides, my today’s position as Chairman of DOC RI, I am also chairman of Franco-Russian Dialogue, can you believe, businessman from France were addressing to me Russian asking for help with their own names because French business cannot transfer money to subsidiary in Russia because of the sanctions. And even more, this is also funny, I am sanctioned by America and I am sanctioned by Australia, as you see I am no sanctioned by Europe, but you won’t believe, any time I am crossing the border of EU, the customs guy or you know frontier guard, should call special telephone to inform someone in Brussels that this Mr Yakunin is crossing the border of EU. Point. So, as you see it is not you know convenient, some how facilitating the free travel and it is not facilitating good mood when you cannot open the account in the bank, so I need to carry with me a lot of cash…. Not now…

Q: You mentioned your appointment as President of Russian Railways, I’d like to move on to your experience in business, given your extensive experience in business not only in Russia but around the world, how do you find the differing cultures of Russian business and also business in other countries.

VIY: Listen it is also being influenced by culture, you are coming to Beijing you should be aware you are in China, you are going Russia – be aware you are in Russia, you are going to the West, be aware you are in a particular country in the West. It was always like this, of course there is a great deal of differences because the European Union has existed for many, many years, and you somehow accumulated each others culture, you have joint laws, you have joint traditions already etc etc, but when one is starting business in a known land, be aware first thing you need – you need a very, good, partner. Don’t make a mistake because it can be very very costly. 

Q: So you’ve also done business within the Soviet Union but also the Russian Federation, what do you think are the main differences or the main changes you’ve seen between the USSR and the Russian Federation?

VIY: Listen, I remember first TV channel discussion between representative of the Soviet Union community and American community, and there was a question on the American side “tell me what it is about sex in the Soviet Union?” and the very reputable lady from the Soviet Union answered “we do not have sex”, so you know from this point of view the difference in understanding, in the Soviet Union actually you had some kind of economic occupation, it was not business, because there were no free market and there were no private assets, so nobody was thinking about profit as here in accordance with theory we are thinking what is the major target of any business – to create profit, pay taxes but create profit. In the Soviet Union it was omitted, it was not like that. But talking about the economic operation between the Soviet Union and say Western Countries, Soviet Union was always considered the most reliable economic partner in the world, that is true, because that was the specific of the organisation. Nowadays I can say that of course we started to do business in 1991 and there was a joke describing the early business in Russia: “Two Russians met with each other, and one is saying listen I would like to sell a wagon of sugar the other said listen I would like to buy a wagon of sugar, so they decided to meet in the evening, one ran to find sugar, the other to find money.” That was a reflection of business of early business in Russia.

Q: You’re also president and founder of DOC, a charity that promotes international diplomacy, people coming together, why’d you found it, what do you hope to achieve?

VIY: In this audience there is one guy who can see that I am too idealistic for my age, but I don’t think this is idealistic, I suppose this is very very pragmatic, because our target is to promote the idea of necessity inevitability of discussions, of dialogue, otherwise world cannot sustain. Inevitability of finding the ways to bridge the differences – that is the major of Dialogue Of Civilizations Research Institute. We have been doing this for 15 years btw, never enjoyed any penny from state budget, despite all the publications, I know for sure. And nowadays, just recently, possibly you don’t know but there is a special forum of think-tanks – Think-20 before G20 – when the leaders of 20 countries are getting together and I was very much surprised when suddenly think-tanks from the US started to use language of Dialogue Of Civilizations, they started to talk about values and they started to talk about inevitability of the changing economic model, the existing neoliberal model actually ceased to exist. This is not my opinion you can read it in FT articles, but this is true, and that was our target, to promote the ideas of dialogue, to promote the ideas of diversity of civilizations and to promote the ideas that you cannot demand that all the people behave like the soldiers in the regiment, it will never be acquired.

Q: So when you say “diversity of civilizations” what do you mean by that?

VIY: This is a good question because now there are many interpretations, one can say listen all mankind are the civilization of earth, in our interpretation civilization that is a big, sustainable group of people, united by their joint history, language, culture, and basically religion, it doesn’t matter one is the believer or not but you know through the centuries all people were believing in something, so that is our interpretation of “civilizations” and Professor Huntington in his well-known book, published 20 years ago, he named Russian Orthodox civilization, he named Chinese civilization, American civilization, Anglo-Saxon civilization etc. so that is our understanding of civilizations.

Q: So, with reference to that, what do you think the solution is to the current migration issues within Europe and around the world, as people of different cultures move, assimilate, integrate or maybe don’t integrate…?

VIY: Listen, I was never shy to introduce our ideas and we can see that the policy of so-called multiculturalism, possibly you’ve heard that term, was wrong. That was not policy. That was abstaining from any management of a very difficult process of integration, representatives of one civilization into the other civilization, what we have observed now, in Paris, we have a big enclave where people don’t speak French, I suppose you can find such places in London too. Now that Mrs Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and you know when he was president Mr Sarkozy, they acknowledge that multiculturalism as a policy failed and I insist it failed because it was not policy, that was just you know some kind of illusion that we are so good, that if somebody’s coming from another poorer country, without knowledge of the history of the country where he’s coming, without language, without anything, he will immediately try to become like us. No! That should be a process of integration, hosting people are inviting newcomers to become members of their society, to work for the future of the country where the migrants came, not just to consider themselves as some ousted people which we have observed many times.

Q: So, do you think President Trump is right with his Muslim ban and his immigration policy?

VIY: You know, before me, you had Sanders here and I suppose he spoke about plans about Mr Trump. It’s hardly possible that I can add anything to his portrait, but one thing. Six months before his election, when I was asked by American TV in a very humanistic way about Trump and I said, ‘don’t simplify this phenomena, this is not just a person, it’s a phenomena reflecting some very serious internal processes in American society and now we see that it is not only in America. You know nationalism, a very bland nationalism, blunt nationalism, which was introduced by Mr Trump is not finding great support here, for example, but don’t forget that he was elected president. What does it mean? It means that quite a proportion of American society considered that he is feeling, telling and he is doing what I am simple American think is correct, just one example. Do you know that nowadays at the length of like 20 years in the US, there is only one segment of population whose life period is declining, do you know that is white males of the medium class, that is not my information, that is information from the United States of America. This is just a reflection that we should not always simplify Trump, then we can get even more problems with the person and with the institution and of course, of course I suppose, the friction which occurred between Trump, America, and EU will have a very serious impact on the entire world.

Q: Do you think Russia interfered in the election of President Trump or is it all scare stories?

VIY: Inevitably, yes, but when I say that what I mean? You know any country is interested what will happen in neighbouring countries. Consider America is a leader of the Western World, every country from Saudi Arabia who were paying money as you know to some France over their candidates and you know even smallest country in Africa needless to say Russia, of course were very much concerned what would be the outcome of the election. And imagine there are two candidates, one very energetic lady who is you know saying extremely impolite, non-political, rude words about Russia, about Russians, about Russian leadership, stating we should force Russia etc. and the other, you know very energetic male who is saying listen I consider it would be better for the world if we find some kind of equilibrium in relation with Russia, judge you know on the level of ranks and files, who was more attractive? And that is fact. But then we said about cyber intervention, you know I’m no cyber engineer, I’m not a scientist, I know something about this field, and I can tell you that when we never use the word cyber, when we did not know the words information technology, special services already attempted to penetrate any information system of each other. They are being paid for that and from this perspective, nothing changed, below the moon, but I never believed that Russia possessed such kind of resources, knowledge and power to control all the political processes all over the world. It wasn’t Russians who were controlling the telephone of Chancellor Merkel…

Q: Okay, thank you very much and on that I’d like to open it up to questions from the audience, so put your hand up if you want to ask a question and wait for one of the stewards to bring you a mic. Yes, over there.

Q: Doctor Yakunin, thank you very much for coming to Cambridge. I understand the World Public Forum tries to bring together different civilizations and ease the tensions we’re seeing at the moment and I very much appreciated the talk of values that you introduced into this discourse. What exactly is the strategy, how can we imagine such a common understanding of values, how can we define common interests that make it possible for different civilizations to live together?

VIY: Thank you, a very important question. A very small introduction, maybe it is a little bit humble, we didn’t finish the research but you know all people – black, white, yellow, whatever – from Asia, from Europe, all of those people, they came through the history of the world’s development, they came through the history of being part of ecosystem to fight with the nature for survival and because of that some specific values which we can name, you know, original or natural values were acquired by the people. Likewise it wasn’t possible to survive alone so people started to make groups, you know, to sustain people should and that was natural should give birth to their babies and protect them so that is value of family. You know to produce products or to hunt animals, they should do that together so that is a unification of the people, so those values and then of course, fate, language etc, culture. But the first set that is natural values, everyone, every people is fighting for survival, then those values, which were acquired within the development of societies, democracy, right for free speech, peace, etc. You know they can be changing in the course of development, but what is basic about human beings, that is humanity and the dreadful thing is that my friend, Fred Dallmayr, philosopher from the US, co-founder of World Public Forum recently wrote an article where he acknowledged that even among scientists there is no overwhelmingly accepted term – humanity. Think about it: what is humanity, what does it mean to be human? And then you can answer to yourself what other values, what artificial but real values and we are doing this research, we are introducing our opinion for 15 years now and I don’t think we are at the final point at the moment.

Q: Doctor Yakunin, thank you for your remarks. I have two questions for you: my first question is about the future of Russian public diplomacy and Russian soft power, so in practice do you think this could draw on this idea with Dialogue of Civilizations and if so how effective is it likely to be? And secondly, about Russia’s domestic affairs, since you mentioned this call-in session with President Putin yesterday, I know that many callers expressed concern about living standards in Russia, satisfaction with quality of life, so as someone who is close to President Putin I wanted to ask you how aware do you think the current administration is of these concerns and how could they be addressed in Russia?

VIY: First answer, listen, if we were that successful as I wished, or we are wishing, then we would never observe the war in Syria, so I cannot say we were successful in that. But it is inevitable that people should stop at some border, at some age, because otherwise the entire world will be burnt out and that is not a maison (house) of 25 stories, this is first. And second, it is important that you understand, may I give you my own example, in 1991 I returned from my diplomatic service at the UN but to see Soviet representatives to the UN. The next morning, my wife went to the department store to buy some products, she returned in tears, they were empty shelves, nothing at all. If you come now to the department store, in any village, in Russia, you’ll find products, they can be expensive, sometimes we know that you know the quality of the product could be better but no problem with the food. You know the amount of the cars on the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg or any village, is exceeding the ability of the road to pass this amount of cars, so this is not the problem of just pure quality of life, the actual problem and that is worldwide problem and in Russia it is extremely essential, that is inequality in abilities and possibilities. Abilities, they are natural, possibilities and legal possibilities should be the same and you know of course the term coefficient Gini coefficient, twice in the contemporary history this coefficient was going down. If somebody doesn’t know, that is the correlation between 10% of the richest and 10% of the poorest population. So only twice in contemporary history this coefficient was going down. Right after October Revolution in the course of several years and after Second World War. Since then, the differentiation of this society, inequality, is only rising and that is what is extremely dangerous to society. Scientists consider that if this coefficient is in the range of approximately seven, eight, that is ok. You know in some countries that is already exceeding 14, 15, up to 20, and that is extremely dangerous and this inequality we are facing now in Russia too. Thank you.

Q: Hello, I have two questions. I understand your son and grandson live in the UK. Is there any chance that you’ll be coming to join us? My second question, your interviewer mentioned your dacha cooperative outside St Petersburg – your group of friends have all been exceptionally successful in business, how do you explain the good fortune that you have all managed to enjoy?

VIY: Partially you will hear my answers at HardTalk interview, which will be broadcasted here, it is already partially introduced to Russia, but will be broadcasting here, starting 30 minutes past midnight on Monday and then 12:30, 7:30 consequently. So, first, it is not only my grandson, that is the family of my son, who settled down in London due to the business considerations, business demanded expanding, it’s always like that. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t that happy when I learned that the family of my son was going to leave Russia, to leave St Petersburg, but you know I never thought that I can dictate to my grown-up kids what to do. If they asked me, I always tried to answer the best way I could. But I never prevented them from getting their own targets and I guess they are successful and my grandson is also a successful student. The second question, you know, recently I calculated that my civilian part of the activity now ranging more than 22 years and I started after my return from the US to St Petersburg, our group was a group of scientists, researchers, people who didn’t know anything about business as I answered, there were no businesses in the Soviet Union, but we appeared to be quite successful… why? Because of the knowledge, because of the reputation, and because you know St Petersburg, despite having 5 million inhabitants, is a small city in terms of circles of course and you know we were known, we had contacts and you know I remember once the mayor sent to my office, future head of newly created tax system of Russian Federation. He sent him to me because at that time I was experienced businessman with the experience of one and a half year, can you imagine, I was considered experienced enough to give advice to the head of the tax office in Saint Petersburg. So we were successful, we made money, we paid taxes, then I was working through all my life I was working hard, my son started doing business when he was under 20. Sometimes he spent night at his table, at a small office, to become again successful. As far as the dacha is concerned, firstly I sold the house just for the record because that was the idea before second contract, I should sign, I did not know whether the contract would be prolonged or not, and I needed to move somewhere so it was idea to create semi-personal, semi-official residency where I could work and where I could figuratively speaking sleep. The idea to go there was brought to be one very rich reputable person in Moscow who bought some land in the rural area, two and a half hours from Moscow – absolutely dreadful, the traffic there in the morning, unbelievable – and he invited people whom he knew to settle down at this premises. He was giving the land free of charge, just please construct something, sit here, be my neighbours, that was the idea at the time. You know, I was very well paid CEO of state-owned company, lowest payment among my colleagues by the way, the lowest, but extremely sufficient if taken into account you know balances, which we were getting year-only, if we met KPIs and you know a special bonus in three years period, just to check if the decision, decisions made by myself and by management board of the company were successful. Because in this type of activity you know something could be attractive but in the period of several years could appear dreadful, we never committed those mistakes, so I had enough funds to construct this maison (house, mansion).

Q: You haven’t answered if you’re coming to be here with your grandchildren…

VIY: Oh sorry, listen, I’m too Russian and possibly too adult to change culture, to change friends, to change you know streets which I like, no. I am frequently visiting London because you know I’m seeking to see my son, my granddaughter, my grandson, but you know I don’t think that I can settle down anywhere but Russia.

Q: Thank you for this opportunity to ask questions. Russia has vast potential in the Arctic and Asia Pacific, what do you envisage as the future developments there and the Russian relationship with China in particular?

VIY: That is a very serious question, sir, and legally you know there are borders in the Arctic, and so-called ‘North Way’ belongs to Russia. Having in mind, actually, judging by the temperature today in Cambridge, I am not a fascinated believer into the warming climate. But, nevertheless, scientists are getting results showing that the average temperature is rising, and that means that the thick ice in this area in the inner Arctic can be less thick or melt completely, and then we will observe absolutely new situation with the transport corridors, routes to deliver goods and you know raw materials, oil, gas, to be excavated. There are already complex movements on the part of not only the Chinese, but Americans, Canadians etc. I suppose we have rather solid legal basis under the umbrella of the UN, to cope with these challenges, because judging by business experience, everything is good when you are in need, but when you need to share just one dollar of profit, all the problems started there, and if we are talking about this area, that is extremely, extremely rich area, and I suppose today it is very good that you know we have this Arctic conference in Archangelsk, possibly you remember, and that we participated in some forum in the USA. That is dialogue and I fully support it.

Q: I was just wondering as someone who’s known Putin for quite a long time, would you say that his personality has changed over time and if so in what ways?

VIY: This is the question. Yes, I know Mr Putin for quite a time. We boys from St Petersburg and I met him when he was Deputy Mayor. The most essential feature of this gentleman is his persistence. I suppose he was brought up to the top of the political hierarchy of Russia just mainly due to this feature. He was, and is, extremely reliable in terms of the word ‘given’, if you understand what I mean, and he is able to change his view, but as any strong character, it is very difficult to persuade him to you know to change the view he possesses. That is the other side of the story of a strong character: on one side, positive side, reliability, ability to follow the word given, to take decisions, and to lead. On the other side, for such people, to change their mind that is very difficult, I know that it’s also some of the features maybe I have and I know that is difficult, but I am absolutely positive, I am absolutely sure that whatever is said about his personality, he is actually servicing the people as he understands it. Why I’m saying ‘as he understands this’, only those who do nothing are immune from committing mistakes.

Q: On that point, what is Vladimir Putin doing wrong?

VIY: You know I can tell you, but let us a little bit change the question, because sometimes you know the answers are getting to the press people and they convert what you said so drastically you can hardly find yourself there. So from what I consider is different from my personal opinion what should be done, can anybody explain to me what is the substance behind the decision to buy United States’ bonds for the amount of 5.5bn roubles or dollars I’m sorry, at this moment, when American Senate accepting the draft law to impose toughest sanctions on Russia? You know, I don’t know…

Q: 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the 1917 revolutions in Russia – if you could change one thing about Russia today, what would it be? Small or large?

VIY: Um… you know he is not paid but he is getting to the nerve, right? You know, if I could, I would change the mind of the rebel link of Russian society at the time, because you all know the good saying ‘good wishes paved the road to hell’. And whatever good were the people on the liberal side of the Russian society, Russian empire at the time, what they committed, giving the way to aggressive minority, created the history of the world, so the history of the Soviet Union, and maybe now some politicians should learn from others’ mistakes and our protecting some value, that was values also, and neglecting the rights of others, that is exactly suppression.

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