tv Russian Politics President Putin CSPAN February 6, 2018 11:12am-12:51pm EST
sanders gives today's press briefing. we'll be there live. it starts at 2:30 eastern here on cspan 3. cspan's history series landmark cases returns with a look at 12 new supreme court cases. each week, historians join us to discuss constitutional issues and personal stories behind the significant supreme court decisions, beginning monday, february 26th, live at 9:00 p.m. eastern. to help you follow all 12 cases, we have a companion guide, written by veteran supreme court journalist tony morro. to get your copy, go to cspan.org/landmarkcases. now a preview of next month's russian elections and president vladimir putin. former ambassador to russia and
nato, former russian foreign minister and journalist sat down for the discussion at the council last month. >> good morning. thank you all for coming. we have a wonderful program for you this morning. i should mention, this is part of our series on internal developments in russia. we began with a session on dem og graph ee, this is on politics. next month, we are doing a session on the russian economy, followed by session in april on
energy segment in russia. we have a treat here. wonderful alliance of speakers. i will not describe them expect to say she's a top notch journalist from moscow, has written a provocative, fascinating paper on russia politically. and i'll turn it over. >> i want to extend gratitude for inviting me and asked me to write a paper.
him a whole range of people from his old job, the kgb. over the years in a period of 8 years, they staffed all levels of the government, upper levels of the administration. as a result, by 2008, almost 67% of all positions in the top layer of russian were occupied by the soviet union kgb, army officers and some people from the military intelligence group. by 2015 it became very vivid in the public's fear that the country is pretty much run by the people who grew up inside the soviet union political, or
by their sons and daughters that have been witnessing information of the clan of people who are united by the common ground, by special code of ethics, by their understanding of what is right, what is wrong. even by the inferior complex developed after soviet union collapsed and new russia came evolved. as a result, just to put it income pairtive, in 1999, announced prime minister putin as his successor, there were 46%
obviously when you have this presentation of people from one institution in the office, layers of the government, they bring with them the institutional culture and bring with themselves their understanding of what is good and what is wrong in internal and external politics. they bring with themselves, you know, the instruments that they used and were useful back at the times when they were young and brave and strong and everything was pretty much for them career wise. besides the numbers, there's
also a clear cut wise in capacities to influence the internal politics. once again, there's nothing special about russia in that respect. by the way, you know, i argue that this political culture models that argue that russia sees itself as special entity, as one with special mission of the world, therefore there's something very special about russia. however, from the political side, there's nothing special about russia. in fact from political science view, this kind of regime is very well known in south america and it was the famous argentina scientist that first coined this
term bureaucratic authoritarianism. it is built on coalition of in case of south america, latin america, military, in case of russia, its people from the kgb, and bureaucrats providing the everyday operation. in that respect, nothing special, nothing new. what we are witnessing now in russia. in terms of all kinds of violence, that's definitive feature of that type of regime where the motion of privacy of
the state interests are make this military, that's a definitive feature of that regime and that's what you see in russia. since 2012 there's 8 fold rise of so-called terrorist cases that investigated and persecuted in russia. three fold rise, nowadays substitution for the propaganda cases that existed back in soviet times. i am citing the paper, the research done.
they're all for the university or the high school. and it was never published there. they were unable to publish there. they were unable to publish it anywhere but in my magazine, the new times. most vividly, the rise of the activities as difficult is seen in these cases. as a result, ten governors and deputies to governors, the number now, 26 governments under criminal investigation and four governments are sitti-- governoe
in jail awaiting trial. inside the department of internal security, there has been created what was coined in russian media. at the same time, he has been when he was prime minister here, he helped to finance and create this very special department whose conducting investigations. there's immense corruption in the russian federation. and many of those are under
investigation has been involved in all kinds of illegal activity. the question is not the fact they're in this, the question is how those that were investigated were chosen because you see that it is not just random choice. you clearly see all those were currency by then one time substitute for putin. all of them. and you know, the former governor who went to -- had, you know, problems with local, awaiting ten year sentence in
jail. now, what the future this brings to russia, i want to point to you that good and bad news. good news is that personalistic type of regimes tend to be more unpredictable and more prone to all kind of, you know, war revenge with neighbors like happened in case of annexation of crimea or more in the eastern ukraine. the type of regimes are more stable, therefore it is much more difficult to expect
positive change to answer questions with respect to specific regimes, here we'll just say there's one interesting feature we observe now among new russian nomenclature. obviously those with offices in soviet times in their mid-60s, some of them older than that, and they have their children who are also joined the ranks, many of them, joined ranks of top russian nomenclature. we call it, there's almost hereditary. these children of the kgb, they
take over banks, state owned banks, corporations. et cetera. ten heads of state affiliated corporations led by the kgb. 25 agencies, head of agencies, governmental agencies or deputy head of government are led by the kgb. talking about children, what is interesting about that is that many of them went to boarding schools in the west, and some of them went through the universities in the west. i don't want to imply that they necessarily observe the values of the western democracy. well aware that a lot of parents prefer to started in united kingdom or in united states.
however, what is important, my theory, my hypothesis is that these children got education and got experience in the west, they wouldn't want to live in the closed -- i would think they like their children educated in the west because they're pretty much aware of the level of education inside russia which unfortunately is not good, especially in terms of humanity and political science, just a disaster. they would like to have small children to go to boarding schools in switzerland and united kingdom. they would like -- they would rather, you know, the knowledge that they're making money in
russia but prefer to be out of russia. they have property, real estate, et cetera. so as it was a case at the last decade of soviet union, i believe these in bringing change and democratic development or some signs of possibilities of democratic development in russia. i will stop here. i want briefly, there's a book i love the most. and that's i think that political scientists at large overlooked this. called the old regime and french
revolution. talking about constitutional persistence, why nations fail is one of the latest that basically refers to the same problem of institutional in different countries, i believe that study of the french revolution is extremely applicable to the situation with failure of the democratic revolution in russia. i am convinced that though they have no inquiry of these, they work from the old regime, not only with conventions, but in even those very ideas which prompted our revolutionaries to
destroy it. they used the old order for building up the new one. that's exactly what happened in russia in 1990s. they used the old order for building up the new one. now we are dealing with the consequences. thank you. >> mr. minister, your comments. >> thank you. i was known for being soft spoken. usually criticized by the opposition for that. if you expect argument and fight here, you will be probably disappointed because when i entered in the room this morning, i said i like your
research, and everyone that joined us came with the same opening verse. i like your research. probably it will be a mutual admiration society here, which i very much welcome because just occur to me that i just read the research and writings as a publicist about 30 years ago. could you believe it? she was almost a child at that time. it was in moscow news, one of the newspapers, and from then on for 30 years i agree with
everything she writes and says so that almost exhausts my comments. the only thing which i could add to that, this notion of authoritarian -- >> bureaucratic military. >> security forces. it occurs to me it could be dated at least 30 years earlier. maybe hundreds of years. probably too general an observation. i think it was same in soviet
union. despite stalin was supposed to be single dictator which he was on one hand. on the other hand, he created or was promoted by new class which was actually the way of old bureaucracy, but at least peasants come to st. petersburg and moscow. a lot of their habits and ways effected the course of the
soviet union. my impression is that this kind of structure is coming in vicious circles. why is it coming repetitiously, even after major upheaval of major revolutionary events which look on the surface as a major revolutionary event like in 1970 or 1980, and in all times that's for my mind a little different mystery of history. it's not political, just what
happened. history, history. that's what i can offer as degree of soviet and failed democratic regime in russia. thank you. >> wla do you think of corporate pieces in the paper. what is the meaning for development going forward, your take please. >> thank you. first of all, delighted to be here. thank you for the lead.
i think corporate assistance in my mind implies a degree of competition among various corporate entities. not as authoritarian. i think you described it in the paper and your presentation, paints a more authoritarian nontotalitarian system, that's how i read it. it was just really one corporation. as i was reading the paper, thinking about my own brief remarks, i couldn't help but think one record of analysis and prediction of politics was pretty poor over the last 30 years. we as community of analysts failed multiple times to forget major pivotal points in evolution or revolution in
russian domestic politics. russian domestic politics in terms, little more than a month away from next presidential election. i have to say that i really don't see much possibility of change in the system that to my mind came into being probably early to mid '90s. i think some described it as system that survives, fundamental ideological distinctions in russian society. what was left for competition for power and property among various clans and interest groups. interest groups implies in our political science a graded degree of plurallism.
it was extended by the 1993 constitution that created the super presidency that in the 1990s was very weak and basically reduced to one clan, the family, centered in the kremlin. but a number of other clans rose to prominence. probably in those days justified name of obvious name. we have seen balance of power between the kremlin and clans and kremlin perhaps reinforced by power ministries. pretty much entirety of the past 18 years, the time putin is in office, has asserted itself as the much more than first among
equals. i don't think it has been completely eliminated and at times when the system feels a sense of uncertainty or weakness that was the case in 2007 and 2008 at the time of president putin's end of second term and questions about transition, considerable flexing of the system. i think we may be coming up with something similar in years to come. not to say by any means that we are approaching a major transition in russian domestic politics. science points to a pretty stable arrangement with very few internal challenges and very few external challenges i would say. this uncertainty about what would happen, mr. putin's next
term, opens up the conversation in a way that it has not been opened until now. for the next six years, i emphasize the system appears to be quite able to handle the uncertainty and any sources of domestic discontent or challenge, and certainly we're sieg seeing elements of discontent. has been prominent promoting and describing candidacy, one candidacy at this point. but certainly clear to my mind he struck a certain chord in russian domestic politics which at present doesn't amount to a major political challenge to the system, but again, i think there's a degree of uncertainty there and challenge domestic for the system that we ought to be thinking about in serious ways.
i don't think it is going to be really a systemic change but realignment perhaps. just last but not least, my question would be to both my colleagues who spoke before me, and perhaps to you too, what do you make of this very strange presidential campaign with hugely important role as voice for many in the young generation. then there's candidacy who at first was handpicked by the kremlin. who is going to be in washington apparently soon. that again raises a very uncomfortable question for the system, how to handle it. just the sheer presence and raising of questions in the public sphere seems to make the
kremlin uncomfortable. same goes for the party candidate who also seems to be pushing boundaries of the conversation that up until now has been quite stilted, constrained. i think in the follow onto our prepared remarks, we ought to consider the next six years. i'm tempted to say in conclusion, the title of the panel is the direction of russian domestic politics. i think of it as going in cycles or circles. but i think maybe it is a movement along a spiral and i'll leave it at that. >> sandy, any comment on the thesis on the foreign policy side of this, if any. >> thanks very much. great to be on the panel. back in the early days, ambassador taught me a lot about the system as it was beginning
to emerge back then. i am quite convinced by the case in your paper that the regime has become more like a corporation than personal dicta dictatorship. i think some statistics are impressive and extremely depressing in terms of the nomenclature you call a boogy monster in the paper, with steady growth and dominance of all levels of the system. with kgb and fsb veterans. i urge everyone to read the paper when it is issued which highlight the role of key institutions, federal security guard service, service for protection of cultural order, which are under different names in the soviet period, have been instrumental in suppressing
dissent and protecting the strength of the regime. and some interesting anecdotes how putin's orders seem to be overwritten, creates more evidence behind this idea of a corporatist structure rather than single strong man calling on all the shots. although at one point you suggest that corporation is dictating to putin, i think that's a little too strong. they still need him as the dispenser of the illicit wealth, and of course he is one of them, so it is not like they have a different agenda. but i think the rest of the corporation needs putin's popularity which is some of which is genuine in sense of being anti-yeltsin who brought some security to russia. so they're all in this together. run over by a bus tomorrow, like minded people would be to take
place, in the short term, other members of the corporation could maintain cohesion among themselves is an open question. less convinced younger generation are going to be a force for liberalization in the short term, but at least it is a hopeful theory we hope pans out down the road. but this is clearly something which is not new. today's kgb incorporated or whatever you want to call it is the culmination of trends that began in putin's first term when i was ambassador, saw increasing in tolerance of real opposition, shift to rubber stamp parliament, obtaining independent media, suppression of ngos engaged in human rights activities and hostile, xenophobic attitude towards foreign backers of civil
society. one of the first u.s. programs to get the ax during my time was peace corp, now virtually all assistance and exchange programs have been shutdown. so there's still quite startling to hear director justify repressions of the 1930s. i recall when i had occasional meetings that he sadie kwalid e hair raising things, although in private, and he is now head of security council. the trends were clear at the beginning of putin's time but they've become even more stark 18 years later. so here we are, less than two months away from the imitation presidential election that's scheduled on the 18th of march. as i see it, well, it is
interesting to watch the protests which were significant over the weekend. still, the regime has been relatively successful in pushing opposition to the margins, containing it without having to use excessive force. they're being careful not to make him into a martyr, but i fear if he is successful with the boycott and deprives putin of his 70 times 70, 70% turnout, 70% approval in the so-called election, harsher measures could come, remembering that the assassination has to have been signed off at senior levels of the regime. what does this mean for russian policy as you ask, john. i believe the priority that leaders of this corporation attach to a strong state and opposition will translate into
continued confrontational policy toward the west. whether under putin or any successor. the leaders of this corporation really believe their own the u states and its allies are bent on regime change in russia and that the united states through its support for civil society and democratic values is responsible for any pro-western movements that develop, whether it's in ukraine and georgia or in russia itself. and, of course, the fear that successful liberalization in the near abroad could infect russia itself is i think the main driver of increasing crackdown at home but it's also, i think, the main driver in russia's more aggressive foreign policy. moreover, portraying russia as encircled by a hostile nato and threatened by russo-phobic west,
it makes it easier to justify the economic stagnation that russia is now experiencing, declining living standards, if there were a serious effort at rapprochement with the west it would create new pressures to reform the system, which i don't think are likely beyond maybe cosmetic steps over the next six years. and having unleashed full-blooded russian nationalism with the annexation of crimea and all the rhetoric about defending the russian world, putin or any other leader will be, i think, very wary about entering into deals that would have to defend it against nationalists at home such as a deal to genuinely pull out of the donbas and hand the valiant people's republics back to ukraine. it's not impossible and i think the trump administration is right to try to test the russians at the bargaining table with discussions about a u.n.
peacekeeping force. but the leaders of this kgb-led system may see little payoff in making the concessions that will be needed to pay off with the west. rather they will opt for continued efforts to divide the west, to command attention to russia more as a spoiler than partner or problem solver. china doesn't fully reject that, or iran so for the united states and its allies, we need to continue to prepare ourselves for long-term strategic competition with russia bolstering our own defenses, strengthening our countermeasures against destabilization, hybrid warfare
try to support the resilience of russia's neighbors and try to go back to the cold war tool box to manager the competition to use arms controls confidence measures and the like while recognizing the russians seem to prefer to be unpredictable, untransparent, but we have a duty to our own people to try to at least limit the competition as best we can. >> well, that was a gloomy analysis. all right, i want to make one point. i forgot to mention when i started that this series of events, today's presentation, we owe our sponsor the foundation of pittsburgh to spop orring them ffor us.
now i would like you to raise the question that gene raised about the navalny election. >> thank you very much, mr. ambassador. i would definitely respond to this. it's a very interesting question with what they call elections in russia, however, i think it's very important to point out, you know, one thing i would like to -- if i may -- >> please. >> to respond to what the minister said. it's true political politics in russia historically has had a very prominent role. it's true it was under -- in czarist russia there was so call ed a department, in the soviet times, the kgb and then that was born in 1918 and set up as political police. we have documents, we know this.
however having said that. i would say never before in the russian history political police was in charge it's always be been -- either under the control of the czarist administration or in the soviet times competing with the most important institution of the country, that's the communist party, of course it wasn't a party, it was a form of government and there was the communist party which went all the way from moscow to the smallest towns in the country and these were competing institutions. the very first time in the history of russia the political
police is in charge. it sees itself as protector of the state and it's state itself. just to give you an example, there is a change of stasis however you always find one in the same background as i do on -- as became my hobby so 2 5 2015, the country, the chief of his administration, the kgb, speaker of the parliament ran the kgb, heads of the corporations, et cetera, et cetera. so in a way it was a very new reality and i ask you not to underestimate that very new reality. second when we think -- i would
disagree with you because from my perspective it's not predictable and -- than the one room but we know the game inside the kgb -- for instance, we do know the fat of the animal that existed in the soviet union was more or less can predict how these tools and instruments will be used in this new order and the recreation as the ambassador reminded us, the recreation of the department to protect the constitution it is in soviet time it was the famous ideological counterintelligence direct tort. the department to protect the
constitution now is fight universities, it was this department that destroyed the best political school in the country, european university in st. petersburg, it's these departments in charge of the the directorate so for somebody like me who lived my life in russia i feel almost nostalgic. i feel as if they're bringing back the time when i was young and lovely. now totalitarian. no, it's not going to be a total state. there is several reasons for that and that is one is that it's a market economy and as you may or may not remember that
back in 1980s when -- even earlier than that when andropov was the head of the kgb, andropov who became a member of the politburo and the general secretary of the soviet union, when he was the head of the kgb he created inside the kgb groups of people who developed the conception of the market economy, of the transformation of the soviet plant system into the -- they didn't use the term market economy but basically they were toying with the kind of capital that they used in yugoslavia, with elements of private property for land that existed in pole land and etc. and etc. so these market forces and these kgb people, they're all involved in the market economy and obviously we already see the competition between different groups inside the same
corporation, for instance, the chairman who served with putin during the soviet times a, he's the head of the company -- industrial company that consisted of 400 or 500 different industrial enterprise s. these companies tend to be more interested in russian closed market from the competitors from other countries, the west included. whereas, for instance, the head of rosneft, he's got trouble because of the sanctions imposed by the united states, because they're able to drill oil in antarctica, et cetera, et
cetera, et cetera. these are competing forces. they are going to compete, they're due to compete and these will not allow for any total state. point two, there is no ideology. they're trying to promote russian orthodox as a substitute for the communist ideology. wait a second in the country where they claimed there are 70% to 80% of citizens who are themselves russian orthodox but only 10% go to the church, it's very much -- the excellence of ideology won't allow for -- it's a prerequisite for the total state. putin, he's not -- obviously he's a meddle man and he will serve as a front for the corporation. however, i think he made a crucial mistake when he got carried out by the notion of revenge in 2014 with the success
of ukraine, he got carried by this motion of revenge and it resulted in the annexation of crimea and russian forces in the eastern ukraine. as a result of that he gave up on the other forces inside his own government which is more liberal to an extent and he became the hostage of the information that was coming out from the fsb and so you know there will be reform in the next several months when intelligence will be back under the auspices of the fsb. so they're totally recreating the structure of the kgb, totally, with no exception. so he became just a hostageover that. he's all the analysis and that's all done by the department of
the fsb. the decision-making body is his security council, which is staffed, of course, with the kgb -- and the deputies. so he himself made a hostage of this situation and i don't think there is a way out for him. now upcoming elections. alexei the most talented opposition leader in russia and he's a very talented politician, i've known him for the last 14 years, trust me, he's the one who is capable to evolve and learn and he's learned a hell of a lot when he was under house arrest for a year. he read so much books. and now he's in jail, i never passed food to him. always books, books, books.
that's great, he's extremely devoted and talented politician. he created the whole structure across russia from kalingrad to vladivostok, his organization exists now in the russian provinces so all of a sudden people in the kremlin realized that dissent and opposition is not just in moscow and st. petersburg or the big cities but outin the russian provinces as well. as a result of that, thousands of people came out in the rallies conducted by navalny in vladivostok. you don't know these cities. this is a very, very russian
periphery, what we call the third russia. now why? very easy. there's a problem of turnout. that's the biggest problem that the kremlin is preoccupied with. putin is going to claim to get whatever percent, it doesn't matter, and he's going to be reappointed as president of the russian federation. i refuse to use the word choice because it's not really choice here. it's not the question whether he's going to be left or not, it's a question of legitimacy. legitimacy is a very vague idea in political science, you know? . it's not little, you know? we can talk about legality in terms of specific laws, constitutions this kind of legal institutions, legitimacy is something when people do the majority of people in the particular character recognize these guys all over the country.
so the problem is as it was shown the latest parliamentary elections big cities don't bode well for power. the last parliamentary elections in moscow there was united russian got 30% in st. petersburg 34% and so it goes. from 13% to 20%. that's the most they got in the cities, in the industrial cities all across russia. so the problem is the way the united russia and putin back in 2012, they get in this huge approval numbers and percentage is through so-called electoral sutanovs. that's how they call the national republic in russia like
chechnya and so it goes. in 2012 i believe putin got in a couple of places in chechnya 106% and they were unable to understand why we were all laughing at this, that was just great, 106%, right? so they have territories that are under firm control under president of the administration, they do give from 10% to 15% added to the work. however as it was obvious in 2012 when putin didn't get the majority, he got less than 50% in moscow and less than 50% almost less than 50% in st. petersburg. in order for him to be a
legitimate president, in order for him not to be called the president of periphery but the president of the country he has to get votes from the people in the russian industrial cities. and that's precisely why the kreml kremlin chose the seniors as a substitution, as a vehicle to get the desirable turnout. the idea was very easy. the idea was that at the when the kremlin -- not kremlin, you know, the central election committee, commission, but, of course, you understand that all of them are just parts. so when they denied navalny the registration, the expectations were that these will bring
thousands of people, young people, in the streets just the way it happened in -- on march 26 and on june 12 when all of a sudden young people all across russia went out on the streets at -- navalny called them for these anti-corruption actions. it was wow, you know? not just for kremlin, they don't have a real feedback for even for us we didn't expect this to happen. so that's what became a nightmare for present administration that, you know, young people are going to come out on the streets. the minute it was going to be announced, navalny was not going to be registered as a candidate. just to show you now by the russian law, those are trying to get registered as candidates, they have to be voted by people
in a different set. 16,000 young people came out on the streets in different cities and they said we want navalny to be our candidate. so therefore they decided that they need somebody going to grab part of navalny's electoral base and they've got a woman that's extremely talented, she's smart, talented, and let's give her credit. the kind of things that she's allowed to say on channel 1 and channel 2, these propaganda channels, major tv channels that has -- that get over 90% of households all across russian time zones, they've never had the word like annexation of crimea. they've never heard that. in fact, it was the violation of the international law what happened in -- on march 18,
2014. this is important. words do have meaning. it's important that she comes out and says all this kind of things, but of course the major idea behind her -- what's the -- >> candidacy? >> candidacy, of course, it's an attempt to increase the turnout in the big cities. so that's as simple as that. but she's very talented. let's give her credit. she's very talented? >> that was a tour deforce and i want to get to our question but i'll give our panelists one minute to any comments they would like to make. mr. minister, is there anything you would like to add? >> i agree with everything. [ laughter ] >> sandy? >> i'll wait for the questions. >> okay, questions right here first. that was wonderful. >> thank you very much -- >> wait for a microphone and please identify yourself. >> thank you very much.
yevgenia, thank you very much for your explanation that i mostly agree with. the thing that strikes me is your difference of assessment between you and the ambassador about putin's role. you say putin a hostage, almost a hostage. the ambassador is saying that for example the billing of boris nemtsov was signed on senior levels, more senior which i'm personally not agreeing with, it wasn't putin. >> okay. >> i didn't say that, either. >> but the question to you is to what extent putin is a hostage and he's fed up with this role, can he on his next term, which is at least six years, can think of again authorized in power not to be the front company for the
whole different interests which are competing now. and to ambassador vershbow, what indicates to you that, you know, many of these major decisions like killing of boris nemtsov and so forth, invasion of crimea, is made by putin himself? in what -- how do you say it? how much he's in control? what do you think? in foreign politics, too. >> thank you very much for your question. let me put it this way, he's a willing hostage. it happened by -- it's the outcome of the institutional design. he's going to be the face of this corporation. i never met him but, you know, i
follow a -- what he says and what he does very closely as a journalist. i would say he's pretty smart and there is no way that he doesn't understand the dire situation he finds himself now. i would remind you that stalin in a way found himself in the same situation when he kicked everybody around him, there was no politburo, no anything and he killed everybody around. but there was a tool that stalin had. he was killing layer after layer. his instrument was his ability to appoint the new guy as the head and this new guy, his first task was to kill everybody from
before. everybody around yagada was killed, the majority. you know, yeshov fulfilled his duty, he was sacked, killed and the whole layer of interrogators i spent some time in my life investigating this, the burial that's the kind of instrument you have when there's a dictate orship and you deal with a corporation. i doubt putin is anywhere close to be stalin. he doesn't have the resources and ability, et cetera, to do this. therefore he's doomed to become a hostage to the corporation. that's the institutional design. >> and it does mean that
competition will develop then? >> inside there always privileges inside these corporations. privileges, you know, so different kind of competition inside the corporation are unavoidable and that's very nice because when they compete with each other, they have less resources to kill us. i'm sorry. you know i have some personal stakes after all. >> i believe there are cleava cleavages, divisions. i'm uncomfortable with treating him as a hos tatage, even a wilg hostage. i think putin does have many advantages. he is a very big primus vis-a-vis the other parts of the elite and he's able to maintain
his primacy in a number of ways in terms of how he doles out the economic assets. it's interesting how he's been replacing the regional elites, the governors with younger technocratic can be people. people that are more likely to owe their loyalty to him than to anybody else. so i think he's finding a number of ways to ensure his position. we know a lot about the inner workings about big issues like the invasion of ukraine and the annexation of crimea but boutin's statements about dismissing ukraine about being a real country and his gut belief that the cia and victoria newland and all these people are actively promoting revolutions
in the former soviet republics suggest this was a very personal issue for him. he felt he was being personally betrayed and undermined and i think there's a lot of evidence that the decision to annex crimea, which was the step he didn't need to take, he could have done another frozen conflict, i think that was very much putin. did he have supporters? did he consult with people and make sure he wasn't going against the consensus? i'm sure that was the case but the other thing, putin unlike these faceless members of this new knnomenclature maintains th with the people with the big tv interview everyday with these staged outreach events as we're seeing during his so-called election campaign so he can bank on a bit of popular support even if it will be inflated in terms
of the vote count that some of these other characters don't have. is he going to become a lame duck? the next six years will be interesting. he could -- as he could have done after his second term changed the constitution and allow himself to run or they could create some new honorific superpresidency that could allow him to stay in power. but at the moment that's an open question so there could be more jockeying after this election, after the dust settles among other members of the league as they try to get the upper hand before they get purged and replaced by someone more identified with putin. >> thank you. question over here? >> thanks. i'm harlan ohlman, i'm a
recovering sovietologist. i want to ask my question sort of tongue in cheek with two observations. listening to what you're saying suggested to me that you could have been talking about america as well as russia. >> would you want us to change places? [ laughter ] i give you my apartment in moscow, okay? >> senior politicians come in with their own teams. bill clinton brought the rose law firm and his cronies from little rock. w brought his father's team with him. obama brought his chicago mafia and donald trump has brought his business people from new york largely. so i think that there's something here. second, i would make the observation i think putin is getting bored because dealing with the west is too easy. we spend 20 times on defense than he does. he takes these small little steps and we overreact. what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of russia today and how is the west
and the united states best postured to deal with them because right now i think putin is running circles around us. i think we're awkward and clumsy and to the degree we need to be smarter, perhaps we need to focus on the obvious strengths and weaknesses of russia to design better policies because the current ones to me don't seem to be working. >> may i ask you, when was the last time in your opinion moscow? >> i go every year to the moscow security conference. i meet with lavrov and a lot of the heavy hitters. >> then you know, i mean, god, you know, you have such great conversation, there's no need for me to explain that simple thing that they can do this, right? i think all this rhetoric about the comparison between the united states and russia -- >> i think you missed my point. that's not what i was saying. i was being slightly tongue in cheek in terms of saying that
leaders bring their teams with them and it should be no shock that the kgb, which was where putin was raised, he was going to bring his colleagues just as american presidents bring their teams with them, too. >> how many political appointees in washington does -- >> i missed your question. >> how many political appointees in washington, d.c.? >> there should be around 4,000. >> 4000. >> 4,000, of which only a handful really count. >> so we are talking about the numbers -- i would say probably a hundred times more than 4,000. we are talking about people who are trying very hard to control not just decision making sphere
in moscow but all across the country we are talking about the people who are tempting with the statistical data in the regions in order to influence decision making in moscow. we are talking about people who make deputy governance to present wrong data with respect to more territories and this is -- and et cetera, et cetera. just impossible even to compare. either you really don't understand the way russia is governed or i really have no idea the way the system existed in the united states even though i have a minor in american politics from from harvard university. so i'm unable to answer your question. i'm sorry. >> gene, do you want to jump in?
>> i take your point and all but we do have comparative elections. let's just say that. and move on to the question that is far more important that you raise for how we can position ourselves to deal with russia. that's a key question for us to answer because for the past 30 years we have pursued the same policy toward russia. >> inevitably with every new administration coming in promising to make things better and inevitably finding -- leaving the relationship to a successor in a much worse shape than they found it in so i think it's also important to recognize that successive administrations, despite their ideological differences, have approached russia with basically the same
ideological mind-set. the expectation was that russia would change and become like us. well, that clearly hasn't happened so i think we need to go back to rethinking our russia policy, something that in the russian-imposed multiple sanctions on russia we have really not done sanctions. it's a tool. but we have not answered the question of what it is we want from russia. what our interest is in russia around russia in the territories being contested. that's the first step and the rest will flow from that. >> question over here. >> i have a question for our guests from russia. and i'm sure you believe in the future of your country and i can
see that you're both great patriots. i wanted to ask if -- when do you think that better future will come for russia? do you think -- when do you think russia could really emerge as a democracy and not be a threat to its neighbors? do you think this is a matter of decades? 50 years, 100 years? i would love to hear your thought thoughts. >> i'll give it a shot. >> me? i don't know how to read the crystal ball. that's my problem. i'm a journalist. i'm 59 years old. i hate to think that i'm going to die under putin. that's it. that's all i have to answer for that ch that. >> yes, crystal ball, i left it in the -- in my home unfortunately. i didn't know that you would
come with this question but actually it's connected to the previous discussion. i think it was actually very, very cute observation and a very good question. i think america is inching slowly to better understanding and better reacting to to russia. it started under obama. i like obama. i think he was one of the greatest american presidents. but he was a little slow in moving on some issues like syria or russia. but anyway, however slowly but
america is approaching today even probably with reluctant white house about the congress definitely seems to be on the right track. especially with the last law. it was passed overwhelmingly. if i remember correctly it was 98 senators and almost 400 members of the house. that law along with previously adapted magnitsky law, that is more accurate. it does not speak of russia.
actually, this is a minced use of words. the better way is to speak of the regime. like exemplary yevgenia, i told you that you will hear everything you need to know from her, that it's the regime. it's not even necessarily only pew tip himself but the regime which is not only different from russia but the interests of this regime is contrary to fundamental national interests of russia so as long as america tries to talk to talk to russia
political class about the national interest of russia, of course it is contrary to russia national interests to fight with ukraine who are our brothers it is even farther from our national interests to take a military adventure somewhere, nowhere, in syria where there are no interests for russia. real interests. but the regime is different. so he started with the magnitsky ask and this administration, however you evaluate this list, but the list was published just a few days -- maybe two days ago, one day ago, that is much more closer to addressing the
regime and dealing with the regime and find iing -- you sai something about strong and weak points in russia. yes, that's the achilles heel of the regime, of the political class. however defined. the rules, the interest of this regime was -- i mean simplistically -- steal in russia, spend in the west. keep russian people under the kgb legacy so that they sit calm and keep them under propaganda. but end? the west, in democracy, in legal
system. if you deprive them from that second part or threaten them considerably, the ability to spend time, money, and have their families and everything in the western side then you will started a dressing the achilles heel and that's what is happening and i hope that on this road they start to heed not only to play bravado like they're playing, take it easy, it's just bravado. but, in fact it never was in the cards for this political class in russia to be sitting in the small soviet union called
putin's russia or whatever and that was other people, not for them, so that's the game changer and how they react there are many ways how they can react, they are powerful, they are politically powerful, financially powerful, they know each other quite well. there is potential for all kind of triblgs, all kind of interpretation interpretations. so i feel rather optimistic for for america is usually trying all the wrong approaches but finally coming to the right one. [ laughter ] >> i'm afraid we have time for one more question. this gentleman over here has it.
>> i'm from latvia. would you explain one interesting phenomenon? in latvia we have hundreds of tv stations, hundreds of radio stations, we have very good programs and -- but the last parliamentary elections russian citizens residing in latvia, 75% of them voted and if you take russian -- ethnic russians living in latvia and latvian citizens or so-called non-citizens, so-called those deprived of voting even in municipal elections, support of them for personally putin would go at least 90%. how can you explain that? >> actually -- >> one more question you can answer the two questions togethe together. >> trudy rubin, columnist, the
"philadelphia inquirer." i would like to ask how the russia adventure in syria fits into what you have been describi describing, how does the motivation change, does this add and detract from legitimacy and has the weakness of western response, u.s. response, fed an appetite for a new russian adventurism abroad? >> i'll leave to colleagues why putin is getting so many votes among russians in latvia. but on the second one, i think the original russian objective was limited to saving the regime from collapse and this is because russia viewed it as yet another example of u.s. regime change, saddam hussein, qaddafi, assad would be next. but i think the agenda got more
ambitious after the initial success in russia realized in part because of the incoherence of u.s. and western policy that it can make deeper inroads and the future direction of syria. getting it across the finish line may prove far more difficult in terms of diplomatic outcome that could stitch the country back together even in a loose confederation so the russians may have bitten off more than they could chew. but so far i don't think they think it's -- was a mistake. will this fuel the russian appetite? you can see it already has in terms of their expanding their relations with other long standing u.s. allies like egypt, they will push on as many open doors like the thief in the hotel, we need to do a better job of locking the doors.
>> i think it's somewhat of a mishome inner to call it an adventure. they have been dealing with the assad family for over 40 years. this was their last outpost in the middle east they felt they had the means, the necessary interest and really the opportunity to walk in and do what they felt was important. i think we're dealing with a very russian foreign policy post-2014 or post-2012, '12 was the return of mr. putin to the kremlin as president. they've been acting with a newfound confidence. a lot of these are really opportunities for bottom
feeding, so to speak, such as bailing out the maduro regime in venezuela but these opportunities come up they'll take advantage of them because they can. >> any comments? >> the interest in syria, i was invited as a former foreign minister to tell you an anecdote so i will do that now. i flew to syria in, i think, 1993. and his father, hafez assad, old friend of the soviet union i was thinking actually of our
interests and my main interest was to persuade him to behave so to say at least more moderately, like moderate also in the larger arab area for the interest of -- general interest of stability in the middle east, so the issue was the very low price of oil which we suffered economically, our government so our interest
was to see if he would pay some of the debt counted to the soviet union and we inherited the debt and our count was around $12 billion or something at that time. it would have been a dream world at that time to have half of that or even a quarter of that. he was mesmerized. he was an old man but he looked at me and said it's unbelievable i don't know how many years i am dictator here -- >> 20 something.
>> 20 something. i used to entertain andrei from moscow who was telling me to stay firm against american imperialism and israeli sizioni and he was giving me weapons for that now here comes another andrei, younger andrei from moscow and he tells me that my service for 20 years was totally misguided, that he has no responsibility for my service, not only i'm in a degree of
respect with him but he tells me we have to reverse this service. and more of them, that they have to pay for the weapons which were given to me on my duty. i mean it's mind bonging. and actually when i was listening to him i thought jesus christ there is a reason in what he says and we -- later on i was reluctant to do that but later on i think they just kind of -- there was a shenanigans, of cour course, so somebody probably got a reach on this transaction but mostly he never paid anything.
i mean, for real. but anyway his son, yes, it's probably the same interest which has had the previous andrei looking from kremlin in their eyes and i think the -- i think he exhaled when he saw primakov as my successor. so as early as the mid-'90s, the old interests came into the assad family, stand against american -- it's not imperialism now it's hedgemony, like one country domination, single
world, whatever the word is. >> in the view with the minister i will answer with an anecdote. i was traveling across the baltics, estonia, latvia, last summer in august and, you know, people from some organization are starting to give a talk and they asked me and i was happy to do that because it was a long time since i was in the former republics of the soviet union. anyway so there was some party afterwards which ended up with somebody saying "good russian, dead russian." at which point i -- i said thank
you so much. and left the party. it is -- with all due respect, i understand the suffering of the -- latvia and estonia as a result of the soviet occupation and so many hundreds of thousands of latvians, estonians perished in gulag in siberia. however, it's not easy thing to be a russian speaker in estonia, latvia, and lithuania now days. you probably know this better than i do. that's my explanation to the fact that those who -- that russian population, russian speakers in these countries,
they do vote united russia or they love putin. however, whether those russian speakers would love to live the european union and go back to russia, the absolute majority said no. and especially after the ruble collapsed at the end of 2014 it turned out medical insurance? the european union turned out to be much better than the one they could get in russia and that was was run of the reasons -- >> yeah. there's no medical insurance in russia anymore. i'm sorry. so so therefore, you know, i think that we should be very careful with all this polls and
we shouldn't take it to face value with people say to the pollsters. i also want to say that we never touch this but i really believe that if you -- if we come -- with my hypothesis about the corporation which is taking over russian internal and external politics, i would say that we should expect the type of foreign policy which will be based on -- that will be active measure, clandestine operations, very pragmatic, very different from what it was in the soviet times so don't try to feed out the russian foreign policy out of what existed under soviets.
for instance, my understanding -- you know, i don't want to -- my understanding of this whole syrian operation is just that you know an active operation that putin needed because, you know, he saw the success, the effect of the crimea annexation in russia and he was looking for something that would prolong his effect but apparently russians give lip service to what's happening in syria so it didn't work. but i think that that will be the kind of thing that we should expect. thank you so much. >> doctor, thank you, thank you the panelists, thank the foundation, thank the audience. [ applause ] [ indistinct audio ).
sunday on c-span's q&a, "new york times" staff photographer doug mills talks about the photos he took while covering president trump. >> obviously he enjoys having us around. i really believe despite his consta constant comments about fake news and the media and so forth, i really feel he enjoys having us around because it helps drive his message, it helps drive the news of the day which he can do everyday and does everyday. he's constantly driving the message and therefore having us around allows him to do that. >> q&a sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. coming up this afternoon, white house press secretary sarah sanders will give the daily press briefing. we'll have live coverage of that at 2:30 eastern here on c-span 3. in the house house today,
members are considering a six-week stopgap bill to extend government funding past the thursday deadline at midnight. we'll have full coverage of the negotiations over the next two days on the c-span networks. and last week the navy's chief of operations, admiral chief of operations admiral richardson. there are constraints when congress does not pass budgets on time. he made the remarks at the heritage foundation. and speaks for about an hour. ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, thank you for joining me here this morning in welcoming the navy 31 chief of