A turning point in the war is possible in the fall.
Russian-Israeli philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin, the former Yukos V.P., gave an interview with Dmitry Gordon, the founder of the Gordon online publication. During the interview, they discussed the full-scale Russian war against Ukraine. Did he expect a full-scale Russian war against Ukraine, and how did he feel when it began? When did Russian President Vladimir Putin decide to attack Ukraine? Do Russian oligarchs have influence over Putin? Who is businessman Roman Abramovich for the President of Russia? What prevents the West from destroying Putin? They also talked about a possible turning point in the course of the war and its end with the installation of the flag of Ukraine in Sevastopol Bay.
– Leonid Borisovich, good evening.
– Good evening, Dmitry.
– Shalom, as they say in Israel.
– Do you know how it works, when a man proposes, but God disposes? I arranged an interview with you, I was supposed to fly to Israel, I was getting ready and the war started. Tell me, please, did you expect this war to start?
– No, I did not expect such a war to begin. I assumed that there would be some events on the territory of the so-called DPR and LPR, that there would be more support, there would be more private military companies like Wagner and others, but in fact under the guise of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, contractors and so on. Nevertheless, I did not expect that there would be a military offensive against Ukraine.
How did you feel when you found out that the war had begun?
– Shock was the first. I consider myself a normal person. No reasonable person can expect a war between Ukraine and Russia. Secondly, a terrible shame in front of the Ukrainians for the fact that I, a citizen of the Russian Federation, who was born there and lived in Moscow for 43 years, was involved in what was going on, even indirectly. Namely, the killings, destruction, and injuries of peaceful Ukrainian citizens and, in general, all this horror that began on February 24th.
– You were a member of the Federation Council of Russia…
– I was a member of the Federation Council of Russia in 2002 and 2003.
– Although, you were one of the richest people in Russia, and among the political elites of Russia. Could you please tell us how they make such decisions? Who is responsible for this?
– I left in connection with the Yukos case in 2003. And since then I have been an observer of what is happening there. The only good thing is that I still have many friends, and many sources, and I understand what is happening there, more or less.
In fact, from 1996 to 2000, all decisions were made by a narrow group of people called “family”. This is Roman Abramovich, this is Valentin Yumashev, this is Tatyana Dyachenko, this is Aleksandr Voloshin, and Anatoly Chubais, who periodically joined them. And from 2000 to 2004, decisions were made 90% by the same group and 10% by Putin and his, so to speak, new accompanying group from St. Petersburg. Decisions have been made mainly by the St. Petersburg group and personally by Vladimir Putin since 2004. Regardless of who was the president: Medvedev, the puppet, or Putin himself.
Since 2012, when Putin was actually elected for the first time for real, that is, these were elections that he really won… No matter how fair or dishonest they were, he won them. The ratings and everything else evidenced this. Most of the decisions are made by him personally and consulted with a very narrow, narrow circle of people.
– Who makes up this narrow circle? Can we list the names?
– We definitely know that Yuri Kovalchuk has the greatest influence on Putin: both personal and ideological. Moreover, he is like an equal among equals. He has a slightly higher rank than other of Putin’s friends from St. Petersburg. He is at least equal to Putin. This can be seen both in the model of his behaviour and in what he can and cannot do in the Russian Federation. That is, in fact, he can do everything.
Further, the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, has a significant influence on Putin. No matter what they think of him, he really has a great influence, despite his meager mind, but very, so to speak, reverent closeness to the body of the leader.
– Does he have a poor mind?
– Yes, Sechin is a very unsmart person. Well, such a person… Let’s say.. Black and white, linear.
– Well, do you suppose him to be a fool?
– Rather not a fool. There is a better Russian word. But I will say without jargon: an idiot. Once Oleg Pavlovich Tabakov told me about his dialogue with Igor Sechin at Tabakov’s house. Igor Sechin drank whiskey and stared blankly at some point, sitting in an armchair. After two hours of Oleg Pavlovich’s monologue, he said: “How I hate them all…” – “Whom?” asked Oleg Pavlovich. “Gorbachev and Yeltsin”. – “Why?” Oleg Pavlovich asked. “For the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Sechin answered. He was like this the whole evening.
– It is ridiculous. So who else makes up the tight circle?
– He is changing little by little. – People like Chemezov play a certain role. Still, the head of Rostec Sergey Chemezov, businessman Arkady Rotenberg and businessman Gennady Timchenko, and more so-called friends and money partners.
And now, at the present time, I think, the influence of security agencies and special services has dramatically increased. First of all, this is the head of the FSB, Aleksandr Bortnikov. In the second place – and now, perhaps, in the first place – the generals of the Ministry of Defence because of the war. To a small extent, Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev. Yes, and there are two people in the presidential administration who have some influence. This, without a doubt, is the deputy head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, Sergei Kiriyenko…
– Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation Anton Vaino?
– I think Vaino has no influence. Vaino is an assistant. Kiriyenko has real influence. Because he is, first of all, Kovalchuk’s man. Secondly, he himself understands and knows what needs to be done to please both Kovalchuk and, so to speak, this boss.
There is also such a person as Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, who is very close to the president in any situation and has a specific and rather significant influence on him. The president listens to him. Aleksey Gromov has influence, both directly and indirectly, because he has long and professionally managed this whole propaganda colossus. And when you are told, for example: “Maria Zakharova is a representative of the Foreign Ministry”, then in fact she is Gromov’s propagandist and not a representative of some Foreign Ministry. Do you understand? That is, when she goes public, she goes out on behalf of the Deputy Head of the administration, Gromov, and not Foreign Minister Lavrov.
– But how did Maria get there? She is also not a kind of a smart person.
– Well, I don’t really want to talk bad about a woman. Especially if she’s an ugly drinker. Some say that she drank less and was more beautiful in her youth, and served with Lavrov for about 10 years at the United Nations in New York. I think he’s pulling her along.
– You must have seen the terrible, in my opinion, meeting of the Russian Security Council, when Putin persuaded everyone to attack Ukraine. I’ll tell you honestly: I thought that the highest political elite in Russia should be smart, educated, talented people. Well, the personnel recruitment system should work, Russia is a big country. I was just depressed about what I saw and heard. And what was your impression?
– The impression was very heavy since this was in fact a declaration of war. These people basically understood what was going on and what they were signing off. In any case, such experienced ones as the Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, Patrushev and many others. But they were terrified. They were intimidated. Actually, they were more like robots. And the one who stammered with fear, like a boss…
– Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin.
– Director of the SVR (the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service – ed.). They were “punched in the face” pointedly so that it was clear who the boss was. In general, it was a story that could have happened in the office of the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. This would be an ordinary thing for the Chechen leader’s office. However, it happened at the Russian leader’s office. That’s why it didn’t look right.
Also, I want to tell you about the personnel recruitment system. Putin has organised it as the leader of the mafia and behaves like the head of an organised crime group or mafia because an organised crime group as a whole country is too much. Therefore, I promote him to the position of a mafioso, although, in my opinion, he personally, on his own, is at the level of an average leader of a small organised crime group like the Solntsevskaya OCG. But, nonetheless. This story is an oath of allegiance of smaller mafiosi to the main boss. This is how it looked. And there could be no other officials. Because the leading officials are the same, the worst of the rest, they did not attend any retraining. These are people who have been with Putin for more than 20 years. They cannot be a level higher than Putin. And Putin’s level is pretty clear to us.
And what’s more, people don’t get smarter with age unless they constantly learn. But they do not learn. At the same time, to say that there is no personnel system in Russia at all is to tell a lie. There is a system. Millions of people pass through it. According to my estimates, over the years about 20 million people have passed through this system. But we are talking about young employees, which we still hardly see. They even appear at the level of governors, and deputy ministers, but have not grown up yet, have not yet replaced this junk. These workers are trained professionals. This was done by Kiriyenko according to the well-known system of Georgi Shchedrovitsky and some other systems and methodologies. And these employees are more professional, but cynical, career-oriented, de-ideologized and are serving the mafia.
– Is Kiriyenko an intelligent person?
– For me, he would have been an intelligent person if he had professed the views that he seemed to profess at the beginning of his political path. I believe that an intelligent person can profess exclusively democratic, liberal views and value freedom more than anything else. This man subscribed to Putinism, to murders, to war, and therefore he cannot be called smart. But he is a cunning, professional, experienced official, bureaucrat and politician.
– He’s Jewish, isn’t he?
– He’s half Jewish to his father.
– Based on what you saw, and based on what you know, who, in your opinion, made the decision on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and what was the level of influence?
– I believe that Putin decided on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine during the meeting of the Normandy Format. There were then German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Putin, head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak and former Putin assistant Vladislav Surkov… Putin was expecting the signing of the Minsk Agreements and was as pleased and relaxed as everyone else, in general. And suddenly Zelensky refused to sign it. I think this cost Surkov’s career, undoubtedly.
– Surkov had a tantrum there. Actually, I was in Paris on the sidelines of this negotiation. Surkov had a tantrum. He threw documents on the floor to Yermak.
– I’m not surprised. I didn’t know these details. I don’t really believe in those rumours that the guards beat him. Unlikely! But anything can happen. However, he “died” for Putin at that moment or became an enemy, it was obvious. Because Putin, obviously, was promised that the agreements would be signed and this was agreed upon with Zelensky and Yermak. When Putin made such an unsuccessful trip, he made a decision: this is the last meeting with Zelensky and revenge is ahead. The revenge was not only to Zelensky, it was revenge to all of Ukraine. Putin cannot think differently. I think that then he ordered the development of a plan for a full-scale war.
– Do you think that this is 100% Putin’s personal decision?
– Almost 100% is the decision of Putin. Moreover, I also have information that many, even Kovalchuk, perfectly understood what this would lead to. Since all these people have financial interests connected with the West, no one wanted a full-scale war. Moreover, they did not want the consequences in the form of isolation, sanctions, and so on. Therefore, they set up Putin in a way that is beneficial to Putin, as Putin likes. This is one of Putin’s personal characteristics: he needs to hear what he likes. This is the same thing that happened at one time with the Yukos case: as if someone was for Khodorkovsky, as if someone was against it. No. Everyone reported negative information about Khodorkovsky, because Putin liked it. We know what that leads to.
Sorry for this analogy, but the same thing happened here: people gave him negative information about Zelensky, about his close circle, about Ukraine, about the fact that everyone is deceiving, and so on. Plus, they were looking for legal reasons for him, such as the fact that, for example, the fugitive ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych was illegally removed and that the power of the fifth president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and the power of Zelensky, based on the fact that the power is illegal, and the story could be started from the very began, as before the conditions of the Maidan. Therefore, he convinced himself and he was convinced. He made the decision personally, there is no doubt.
– Have you met Putin personally?
– I met with Putin personally, but I spoke to him in detail only once.
– I didn’t ask this question by accident. In order to understand the reasons for an action, it is important to understand the person who acts this way. Based on your personal communication with Putin and based on what you know about him, please draw his portrait.
– I saw him twice abroad. It was a long time ago: in the early 90s. This was once on a trip to Baden-Baden, organized by the late, one might even say, “murdered” Ivan Kivelidi. There was Kakha Bendukidze, Oleg Kiselev, these sorts of businessmen. They invited me. There were some officials, Putin was among them. Impression: a grey mouse. No talking, no talking. It was like this, seeing each other, sitting, drinking, eating. He was not interested and did not speak a lot. It must have been some kind of formal trip for him.
The second time I saw him was in Monaco. Khodorkovsky and I were at a conference held annually by Russian economists and the Central Bank. Gerashchenko was the leader there, there were foreign banks, funds, and partners. There was the mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. Putin was there with Sobchak. He carried a bag with tennis rackets, and he was very small. He looked like… I don’t even know how to say this, I don’t want to offend anyone, but I guess he looked more like a lumpen. Sobchak was like a barin (member of landowning gentry – ed.). He definitely showed that Putin is something small and behind his back. There was one conversation with Sobchak literally, an honest one. That was my impression.
Then this whole story took place, and he rose to the FSB director position. Roman Abramovich called me just a week or two before he was named successor, that is, appointed to the position of the Prime Minister. It was 1999, November, I think. Roman Abramovich called me and said that FSB director Vladimir Putin wants to meet with me in his office in Lubianka. I came to this office in Lubianka. We spent an hour speaking about nothing important. Absolutely nothing. I could not form any opinion of a man on the basis of such a conversation. However, one could understand that this is the director of the FSB and this director of the FSB is a private person. Moreover, I did not understand the purpose of this conversation, and it was not indicated. Moreover, I met with all the directors of the KGB and the FSB who lived at the same time when I was already an adult and worked with Khodorkovsky, starting from Kryuchkov, Barsukov, and Kovalev. These were always interesting exchanges of opinions with different people, with different temperaments, with jokes and tricks. Because we are completely different people, from different areas, but interesting to each other. With some of them, I mean these three, I continued relations even after they left their posts. Exclusively out of personal sympathy or interest in learning something.
As for this person, there was nothing. And later, when he was named a successor, that is, Yeltsin appointed him Prime Minister, Abramovich clarified what I already understood: the reason for our acquaintance. Or rather, like this: he didn’t introduce me, but put me there to talk. He said: “Do you understand now that it was important.” Something like that. I understand why it was important to them. But it didn’t matter to us, because nothing good came of it anyway.
– Was Roman Abramovich a trusted person near Putin?
– Roman Abramovich was not close to Putin. Putin was close to Roman Abramovich.
– It’s true. Because the final decision was made by Roman Abramovich. Since Roman Abramovich kept the family’s purse, the person whom the family appointed as successor had to go through certain trials with copper pipes. Otherwise, this would not have happened. Therefore, without a doubt, a person who did not like Roman Abramovich could not become a successor.
I can give you an example of a person who would resolve the situation in a completely different way. This is Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin. We really liked him, he was a good man, he was an interesting man, he was a smart man, he was a kind man, he was a professional official. And he did not use special services against business. He didn’t really like them. He liked Berezovsky, but did not like Abramovich. He accepted Yumashev because of Tatyana, Yeltsin’s daughter. Yeltsin was drunk all the time, and Tatyana and Yumashev were like connectors, and he spoke to them on an equal footing, with respect. But he could not perceive Abramovich as a person. He always treated him like such an insect, or something. “Well, some kind of pilferer”. Moreover, he knew his story very well. Abramovich didn’t do anything deserving of Viktor Stepanovich’s respect. In his own way he respected Khodorkovsky, Potanin, and even Chubais, although he did not like them, Nemtsov, Berezovsky, but each for his own: for their individual creative things. He was even friends with Berezovsky. We also had a fairly close relationship. I was probably one of the few who sometimes went to his distant country house to have breakfast and discuss issues of life. Most often it was a discussion of the people around him.
– Viktor Stepanovich was a wonderfully kind person, a “Russian nugget”.
– Yes. Abramovich did not like him, but Berezovsky liked him. So who was the boss? Certainly, Abramovich. At the moment when there was a choice and Victor Stepanovich still had a chance, Berezovsky did not manage to pass it in the Duma. There were three reasons. The first: because of Berezovsky, they hated him. The second: that administration did not support him. And the third, related to the second: because the oligarchs, as we call them, did not negotiate with the leaders of the factions in the way they would negotiate if the Administration were in favour of it. I believe you understand me.
– The result was negative even with Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Although I spoke to him, and he said: — Yes, certainly. If they give a sign, we will agree on such terms”. But unfortunately, they were really against it. Berezovsky lost, and Viktor Stepanovich did not pass. Then the constant changes of future successors began.
– Tell me, please, when you were at the peak of your financial career, how many billionaires did you indicate in Russia?
– It is difficult to answer. But when Khodorkovsky was the number one…
– Did he have $15 billion?
– I don’t remember how many. 13, 14, 15… But this was based on the cost of the Yukos company and the valuation of participatory interests. Not so much. Well, perhaps 12–15 persons. I don’t think there were more billionaires.
– Let’s try to count. Can we?
– I will try to recall. Well, undoubtedly Alekperov, Bogdanov, Potanin, Prokhorov, Friedman. Then appeared Aven. Not at that time. Who else? I don’t remember. In my opinion, Volodia Vinogradov was the Incombank. Then, unfortunately, he died. He had a lot. Boria Ivanishvili, who is now Bidzina Ivanishvili, and his partner Malkin. Someone else from the metallurgists. I don’t remember who it was, to be honest. There was Vladimir Lisin at the Novolipetsk Steel Company. Mordashov wasn’t there then, I think. I do not want to guess further.
– Berezovsky, and Gusinsky weren’t billionaires?
– I missed Berezovsky. Probably that both Berezovsky, and Badri Shalvovich Patarkatsishvili could be supposed to be billionaires, you are right. Up to 15, yes.
– You too.
– Yeah, no doubt, me, too. Because then I had the second package after Mikhail Borisovich in our group and, respectively, in the Yukos company.
– Let me explain why I asked this. How many real billionaires are there in Russia now, in your opinion?
– Oh, to be honest, I did not do the calculations.
– Well, there are about 40 of them.
– No less, I think. How much is left, that’s an interesting question.
– Please tell me, do these people theoretically and practically have the opportunity to come to Putin and say: “Don’t start this war”? Or say later: “End this war”.
– No, these people did not have the opportunity to come to Putin and say something like that to him. These people betrayed us in 2003 with the exact purpose of not having such an opportunity to come to Putin, but to lie under Putin and, let’s say, share their half, quarter, two-thirds with him. Everyone had their own Abramovich in the capital, so I don’t know the actual situation. But then, in a short period of time, everyone reorganised into a vertically integrated structure, and they were far from Putin.
– Does it mean that the oligarchs have no influence on Putin?
– The oligarchs have no influence on Putin.
– What is the role of Roman Abramovich today? He is participating in the so-called peace talks. He flies to Kyiv, and meets with the Ukrainian leadership. Who is he today? What does he do?
– Roman Abramovich remained Putin’s friend. Roman Abramovich is close to Putin. He can talk to him about anything. He’s undoubtedly one of his biggest wallets, if not the biggest one. They have a trusting relationship. At the same time, Roman Abramovich understands that he does not influence Putin’s political decisions. I’m not talking about personnel, I’m talking about political decisions. Because answering you earlier, I should have said that the oligarchs had an influence on staffing decisions. Not on top officials, but at the level of department heads, deputy ministers, and so on. They influenced even at the level of the special services: they could promote their own or buy the supplied ones and use it.
Roman Abramovich is a different figure. It saved these relations. His purpose is absolutely clear. He’s a gamer, crafty, and he knows exactly what’s going on. Therefore, he is naturally interested in keeping Putin in power and not falling under sanctions. These two goals he pursues as much as possible. Therefore, he may convey some kind of agreement. But, of course, not fundamental, not military-strategic and not military-political.
The level of negotiations on Azov… I believe that Roman Abramovich took an active part in the exchange of Azov prisoners together with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or with his corresponding assistant, who became a close friend of Roman Abramovich, let’s call it like that.
– You are talking about Putin’s wallets. Is Abramovich Putin’s wallet?
– Yes, there is no doubt.
– Do you mean that these billions of Abramovich are actually billions not of Abramovich?
– I can’t say that. I am sure that the so-called oligarchs are the holders of Putin’s finances and finances of Putin’s entourage. Roman Abramovich is one of the main ones. I will never be able to prove it for one simple reason: we will never find the names of these people in these trusts. But we are well aware that when Sibneft is sold (after all, it is ultimately sold) to Gazprom at an inflated price, this deal cannot pass by Putin not because it is multi-billion-dollar. It is noticeable, certainly. Putin used the deal that resulted in Rosneft’s purchase of the Severnaia Neft company as a trigger for Khodorkovsky’s arrest. And the most basic question then, which was not clear, but became clear: was Putin personally interested in this deal? The deal ended with Sechin.
Putin proved that he was personally and financially interested in his nervous attack on Khodorkovsky. So, according to Sherlock Holmes, I conclude that he could not but be interested in the deal for the acquisition of Sibneft by Gazprom. But at some point, he became uninterested in a larger deal in which Yukos acquired Sibneft, and then this joint big company was supposed to exchange shares with a large American oil company. This deal would have brought real income to both Khodorkovsky’s group and Abramovich’s group, but not to Putin.
– Was Putin wrong when he decided on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine?
– Yes, Putin made a major mistake that will shorten his term to… I do not want to make forecasts. It may be a very short time, or it may be, unfortunately, several years. But, of course, if he had not done this, now we understand perfectly well that he could have ruled for the rest of his life. In any case, until the end of that type of life, when it could still be shown to the public. And since, judging by his parents, he has good genetics in this sense, it could be more than 90 years old with current medicine. This is what doesn’t work for him now. He is going down. The speed of the fall depends on how successfully Ukraine will defeat Russia in this war.
– I heard that both the FSB and the GRU had failed Putin. They told him about the huge number of their agents in Ukraine, that the people are ready, everyone is waiting with bread and salt, and “as soon as we enter, we will quickly restore order, remove power in Kyiv, seize Ukraine and everything will be fine”. Do you think this is true? Did the FSB and the GRU really fail him?
– Firstly, he should not have believed it fully, because he failed in 2014. By the way, with the same guarantees of Surkov and Glazyev, Zatulin and other junk who joined him.
– The swindlers, who stole enormous money instead of packing them into the corruption of those people, which they considered leaders of future “Malorussia”, and, accordingly, the leaders of Ukrainian regions. But Putin tends to trust someone. And after Surkov everyone had gone, there were no people like him but the subdivisions remained. They stayed in the Presidential Administration. And these subdivisions from the former colleagues coordinated in reality the activity of special services in Ukraine. Including the FSB and GRU. Therefore, first of all, this failure is the continuation of Surkov’s failure. Because financing, responsibility, expertise – everything passed through the Presidential Administration.
I do not know for sure, whether the FSB or the GRU reported him personally on these topics. Moreover, now that I understand, nevertheless, there are a lot of GRU officers in Ukraine, unfortunately. In any case, there are manifestations of collaborationism, and we know about it, unfortunately. There are manifestations of sentiment in some places (we will not talk about it now) that are worrying about the future. That is, GRU officers are stupid people, boots, but working enough. Poison the Skripal family or bring someone to corruption with the same methods. But he cannot but understand that they were unsuccessful in terms of organising this work and that they plundered his billions. Otherwise, he is a complete idiot. Because it resembles the situation with the state of the army.
– Because over these 20 years, the junk that he now fights with was poorly maintained, was stolen, engines were completely or partially sold, and so on, they did not undergo appropriate maintenance and rusted. And this is despite the fact that there is a lot of this junk, and if it worked, it would be much worse for us now, I mean Ukraine. It would be much worse… Both now and in the future. Thank God that he does not understand anything about the fact that not only the oligarchs steal in his and their own interests, but also steal on earth. They steal everywhere. And 10% comes to the bottom sometimes. By the way, this also affects new military projects that did not go well, as we see now.
That is why all these subdivisions are now, roughly speaking, disbanded. By the way, an interesting topic: when preparations were underway, when all this was happening, about 50 experts worked for the Presidential Administration and other organisations: The Ministry of Defence, the government, they were either former employees or good analysts. These were groups associated with the CIS, these were groups associated with the border areas, and so on. All these groups in Belarus and Ukraine gave the right advice in the interests of Putin as President of Russia. But they did not suit his interests. Therefore, he betrayed the Belarusian group when, in the end, he did not support the one who was chosen instead of the “batka” (Aliaksandr Lukashenka – ed.).
– Who are you talking about?
– It was a Gazprom representative.
– Imprisoned now.
– Yes, imprisoned. And in the end, Putin easily handed him over, after re-negotiating with the “batka”. Because he felt comfortable with the “batka”. I am sorry. Belorussians now hear what I am saying, also they will hate me for the word “batka”. I hate him as much as they do. I beg their pardon. The cockroach.
It also happened to Ukraine. None of the experts, no group gave an advantage to the military solution of the issue. Moreover, since they have been working recently through Kozak, Kozak has not given any chance of a military solution to the issue…
– Did he?
– Of course not. He tried to convince Putin. Look, the man is almost the native of the Odessa outskirts. What are you talking about? He has grown…
– He is from the Kirovohrad region, from Hayvoron.
– I saw. There is a village, or a settlement, or a town – they moved: it was either in Odesa or in the Kirovohrad regions. It’s close by, anyway. South of Ukraine, the Black Sea coast. And he was against the war. As far as I know, Putin spent about two hours with him before the Security Council proceedings. Kozak tried to convince him not to make a military decision, but he did not succeed. And he had no choice but to support this decision at the Security Council, of course, on Putin’s instructions. But he has not been involved in this anymore. Since this conversation before the Security Council proceedings. And all the subdivisions were disbanded. Something was handed over to Kiriyenko, and the expert groups were disbanded. They don’t need experts now.
– Also, in my opinion, the Foreign Intelligence Service under the leadership of Naryshkin made a mistake. Because Putin was not told what the reaction of the world would be. Putin did not expect such a reaction from the Western community and such a mass transfer of weapons and so on. Of course, there are many questions, starting from Hungary and Germany and, unfortunately, Israel in this relation. We’ve discussed this topic with Natan Sharansky. We spoke frankly. Nathan explained why Israel takes such a position toward Ukraine. Well, not very good, let’s face it. What do you think? Won’t the West get tired of this situation? Will it agree to reconciliation with Putin? Will it start to lift sanctions? Won’t some countries show the kind of madness that they showed in the situation with Hitler?
– So many questions in one… The Western community has been wrong more than once. And many times it turned out to be right. If we compare the situation with Hitler, it is very similar to the current one, because when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union, no doubt, would not have resisted if America and England had not arrived in time, there would have been no Lend-Lease, all these caravans, relocation of factories and so on and, most importantly, military equipment: tanks, aircraft, and so on and so forth.
– Even food and gasoline.
– And food. And we need to talk about it. And in the end, if this had not happened, of course, Hitler would have taken Moscow and moved on. It would have happened quickly enough and that would have been the end.
Therefore, we now have a rather similar situation in the sense that Putin has slowed down. They are moving slowly from east to west. They, of course, lost all the timelines. They are capturing each settlement in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions extremely hard, with huge losses. And time is moving again towards autumn and winter. Although they started much smarter than Hitler: they started at the moment of warming. Nevertheless, winter is bad for everyone: both for Ukraine and for Russia. I mean winter battles. The Lend-Lease is already starting in September. Weapons deliveries are already in full swing.
Now regarding the West, where Israel is not a case in point. We will talk about it separately. This means that the position of the West is much worse than I could have expected but better than it was after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was half-collapse, actually. The collapse will happen soon, and then there was a half-collapse. Why? Because they spat, waved and said: “Well, Yeltsin is good. Let them do what they want with their nuclear weapons. Goodbye. And we will help them a little here, we won’t help them…”And they missed it. They understand this mistake very well. They cannot repeat this mistake.
— There are two things holding them back. You understand this very well. These are energy, gas, and the nuclear button. Without them, Putin would no longer exist. But we are in the reality in which we are. Everyone understands perfectly well that if Putin is stopped temporarily, then this is only temporary. Therefore, everyone understands that Ukraine must win and reach the end. This path is very difficult. We must not forget that, unlike the West and NATO, Putin was preparing for this war. Moreover, he prepared not so much militaristically, as it turned out, but from the point of view of PR, lobbying, and corruption. And huge hordes of people in Europe and America are now working in the interests of Russia against the interests of Ukraine.
With such an obvious situation, we could expect a much greater unification of the West and a much faster resolution of the issue. But I immediately felt from the reaction of Western leaders to the proposal to close the sky that they did not understand what had started. And that it still has to be done. But this will have to be done at the cost of the lives of many, many Ukrainians, unfortunately.
I don’t think they will stop. I think that, of course, England and America have a decisive role. I think that America is the most important, but England, Britain this time deserves an “excellent” mark.
— And they, of course, are in many ways trendsetters of this fashion. That most hated Anglo-Saxon world. Plus Poland. I’m talking about big countries now. In Europe it is, without a doubt, Poland. Poland is well aware of how it will end if Ukraine loses. Therefore, Poland is militarizing, preparing for war with Russia. And will fight, no doubt. But Poland is NATO. Well, they will fight if they have to. I hope they don’t have to. This also refers to both Finland and Sweden. Finland is especially indicative for me. Because they know how to fight with Russia.
— I can talk a lot about the pros and cons, but I agree with your Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov, who spoke very well recently at the Atlantic Council, and spoke about the first, second and third Ramsteins (meetings of the contact group on Ukrainian defense issues) and what was happening from the first meeting to the third and after. And he showed me the absolutely correct, proven trend of increasing the supply of military equipment, shells and weapons, to which Putin has no answer other than nuclear.
— Well, he is unlikely to go nuclear. We understand this.
— That would be very stupid of him. Because then, indeed, his prediction will come true: there will be no Russia either. And Russia will cease to exist much faster than anyone else.
— I think that China will be the first to prevent him from taking this step.
— Well, you see, when we talk about Putin as a normal person, then yes. But if we understand that he really is a psychopath, and it was confirmed by psychiatrists, highly qualified psychologists, then we do not know where this balance is, where he will stop, or where this rat squeezed in a corner will jump. But I also hope that he and his entourage will have enough sense or there will be a snuff box so that he does not press this button. Since no one will push this button, except for him. I hope so.
— What, in your opinion, could be the end of Putin? And when can it be?
— Putin is in a very bad situation, psychologically and mentally. You don’t have to be a great specialist to assess how quickly even external changes are going on, that this person is nervous, freaking out, how tight he is, not confident in himself. And without a doubt, his psyche, his brain is decomposing, and his body is also decomposing. And this process will only accelerate as he loses the war with Ukraine.
As for his physical death, this is probably in the competence of the Lord. Well, we hope He exists. But the amount of the dark energy that Putin is receiving, the number of prayers for the repose of the soul of the servant of God Vladimir, which are heard all over the world … That terrible energy — I think it influenced Hitler, and it influenced Stalin, and it will influence him as well, sooner or later. And I wish him to quietly and calmly depart to another world and leave Ukraine and all of us in peace. But it’s unpredictable. Naturally, perhaps America and the West will decide to eliminate him. But this is outside my competence. This is guesswork. There were assassination attempts on Hitler…
— Of course.
— But they were mostly committed by the generals, by the army, by the environment. I don’t think we should expect assassination attempts from these “Sharikovs”. But who knows? I don’t know. If not that, then losing the war is the beginning of his end. How long it will take inside Russia, I don’t know. Because the people in Russia… Let’s not call them fooled. Yes? The people in Russia are just the way they are. They are the same both at home and in Bucha. Don’t fantasize that they are better at home. If a man beats his child not to death, or does not shoot at his wife, when, excuse me, she is being raped, or he beats his mother in the face with his boot, but not to death, this does not mean that he is somewhat different in Bucha. It’s just that there, in Bucha, he is absolutely untethered, he knows that nothing threatens him, and he manifests himself as he is.
These people make up a major part of the population. This is provincial Russia, they are accustomed to living in shit, they have no education, no medicine, no culture, no interests. Therefore, when they talk about Putin and his future, they talk about Moscow. Moscow will hold out in good condition for quite a long time. Because the system is built in such a way that no matter how much money there is, 90% will be in Moscow. And if necessary, then 99%. And there will always be “parallel imports”, and so on and so forth. The whole question is how the sanctions will work, and how the war will proceed in the first place. The combination of this — and the hungry, distraught people will not forgive their leader for the loss. But if it continues as it is now, or if there is some gain on his part, then it will continue for a long time, God forbid. But we should also understand this.
— In your opinion, how and when will the war end?
— For me, the war will end with the Ukrainian flag waving over the Sevastopol Bay. But many people think it’s unrealistic. And they sharply criticize me for playing along with Zelensky. But I really think so. I understand perfectly well that in the current situation, the war cannot end for Ukraine with anything other than either complete victory or complete defeat. I do not believe in defeat, because this is already pure calculation. This simply cannot happen — this country cannot be captured. Plus, when 84% of the country’s population is not ready for the war to stop due to trade in territories …
— This speaks of the spirit of the population, in which the president and the leadership should lead. They must be sure that they will win the war, and that the Crimea will be retaken, and the territory will be fully restored.
Therefore, I believe that the turning point will be soon. I hope in the autumn. Not in a cold autumn. I hope that what we see about Kherson is a matter of weeks, and maybe even less. And an offensive will begin in Kherson — the Crimea will be cut off from the Kherson region. And this is an important story.
I hope and I am almost sure that America and other countries have no other choice but to give the weapons that will reach the Russian territory. In this case, I still mean primarily the Crimea. And the main cruiser ships in the bay of Sevastopol must be destroyed. There are three of them, I believe, large ones like the Moskva that left us.
— Yes, the untimely departed Moskva.
— Untimely, right. As it turned out today, also with the rear admiral’s son, a certain lieutenant commander. True, there were no casualties. Another one went missing. And I am absolutely sure that at the right moment there will be weapons that will reach not only the ships, but also reach the Crimean bridge— and it will be destroyed. And then the situation in the Crimea will completely change.
— Leonid Borisovich, in the end I would like to talk a little about you. Ask you several questions. Tell me, please, is this true that you have been convicted in absentia?
— Life sentence, and six years on top.
— Are you on a wanted list?
— Maybe I am. I mean, not in Interpol — I was removed from the Interpol list. And Russia is looking for me, yes.
— I want to ask you something. For me, in Russia, at first they opened a criminal case under three or four articles. Then they put me on the list of terrorists and extremists. Then they banned my books in Russia, then they put me on the wanted list. And as a cherry on the cake — an absentee arrest. What does this mean, from the point of view of an experienced person?
— Well, you know, in 2004, when it all started for me… In 2003, unfortunately, Khodorovsky was arrested before that. Russia was perceived by the world as, in general, a normal country. It was a full-fledged member in many organizations. I’m not talking about the Council of Europe, the European Court, or the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. They reckoned with Russia. Even after Putin’s 2007 speech in Munich, no one understood that he was serious and not joking. And everything continued as if it were a normal country. And then you had to prove that you are not a camel. And to prove it in a serious way: with lawyers, courts. I went through the Supreme Court in Israel and so on.
In your situation, you have nothing to worry about. No assignment of Russia will be fulfilled by any country, except for those to which you will not go, I hope …
— This is the only thing I want to advise you as an experienced person: do not go to those countries where they can sell you for money. I would even say, to countries that you doubt. Where Putin can pick up the phone and ask, and they can agree with him one way or another. But now there are very few such countries, and you do not need them. The rest are normal — the world is open to you. Just disregard all this. Interpol will never take a search against you. If, God forbid, they start considering such an idea, then the lawyer will write a letter to the commission on files — and everything will be cleared. And not a single country will arrest you under this or under bilateral agreements, and so on.
But once again: as an experienced person, I advise you to check with a lawyer before traveling somewhere what is happening on the border with this country. Because, perhaps, anticipating that you go somewhere often, they filed a request for an extradition arrest there.
— Can Putin pick up the phone for me?
— Yes, sure. Listen, I would put it this way: if he could help Solovyov pick up the phones for them, would he do it? Why are you worse? You are anti-Soloviev, you are an enemy to him, no doubt. I am his enemy for my reasons, you — for your reasons.
— Well, we’ll end on that wonderful note. It was a very interesting conversation. You know, Leonid Borisovich, I would gladly continue it next time, and more than once. Because it is very interesting to communicate with you.
— Thanks, Dmytro. I would like to add that we did not talk about what all normal people need to do in order to help Ukraine. I don’t want to brag about what I do, and I won’t. But I see that we are now moving into autumn and winter, and if everything is fine with weapons, then we need to think about people who are both cold, and perhaps hungry. And these humanitarian things should now come to the fore for all normal people in the world. It is necessary to raise funds for them, buy them, supply them, and coordinate all this work. Because they destroyed a huge number of thermal power plants. For example, Kharkiv worries me a lot. I do not understand how people will live in Kharkiv already in September -October, and then in winter. This is a huge city. It seems to me that now food, medicines and warm clothes and sleeping bags are what should come to the fore. And this must be done. To all normal people, including the Russian opposition.
— Leonid Borisovich, thank you very much. See you.
— Thanks, Dmitry. I wish you all the best.
I usually pick out, for me, the most interesting aspects of an article or interview to comment on, but there are so many in this one that my post would be much too long. I will let the reader enjoy it directly, bit-by-interesting bit, and learn the inner workings of an evil, fascist crime syndicate and its heinous leadership caste.
“And I wish him to quietly and calmly depart to another world and leave Ukraine and all of us in peace.”
Amen to that.
Surely there must be at least one person close enough to the nazi rat who can administer the appropriate “medicine” to achieve this?
Or a partisan drone strike…
Rather like the much hoped-for event that characterizes your handle, it’s got to be done by Russians. Can you imagine the propaganda value to the putinazis of a Ukrainian hit on the nazi rat? It might cause a mobilisation and/or much worse.
You mean Ukraine take out the tiny Fuhrer during his “Special Military Operation”? Its a good question. Likely if it happened they would blame Ukraine and Ukraine wouldn’t care either way as long as the job got done. My own wishes are it would happen one way or another and that Putin was warned he would be held responsible for his military’s actions.