tv Russian Politics President Putin CSPAN February 1, 2018 10:06am-11:47am EST
politically. with that, i will turn it over to -- >> i would like to extend my to -- whoatitude invited me and asked me to write the paper there -- who invited me -- who invited me and asked me to write the paper. the main topic of the paper i council the democratic and in this paper, i argued that we have been witnessing the transformation of the regime in russia.
administration and as a result, almost 60% or 70% of all positions in the top layer of the russian government were kgb and somehe people from the military intelligence group. 2015, it became clear in the public sphere that the country is run by the people who grew up -- or by their sons and daughters. we have witnessed the formation of a clan of people who are united by the common background, -- education, by
their understanding of what is thet and what is wrong and internal complex they developed after the soviet union collapsed. you have to compare this perspective. in 1999, -- was the president of the russian federation. in late december, he announced prime minister putin as his -- essor and the kgb grew and the army.
as i said, 10 years later, the -- the numberhat grew to 60%. [indiscernible] in 1999, when gorbachev was the leader of the country. when you have these -- this overrepresentation of people from one institution in all layers of the government, they culture. institutional they bring with themselves their
understanding of what is right and what is wrong in internal and external politics. they bring with themselves the use and/or that they useful back at the time when they were young and brave and strong and everything was pretty much good for them in terms of career. there is also a clear-cut -- to influence the internal politics by using the means of creation and repression.
there is nothing special about russia in that respect. i argue that this political that -- argue that russia sees itself as a special entity and the one who has a butial mission in the world from a political side, there is nothing special about russia. this kind of a regime is very and known in south america it was the famous argentinian political scientist who first , democraticterm authoritarianism, the type of regime that is built on the of military in the
case of south america and in the case of russia, it is the g -- kgb. respect, there is nothing special or new with what we are witnessing in russia. said, -- in terms of all kinds of violence. that is the spirit of that type of regime, where the notion of -- make of the state this military part of the coalition to use violence over the rule of law. coercion over the rule of law.
oft is a distinct nature that type of regime and that is what you see in russia. 2012, there is a eightfold rise of so-called terrorist cases that are investigated and persecuted in russia. a threefold rise of cases on treason which is a nowadays substitution for the propaganda cases that existed back in the soviet union times. i am citing the research that .as done by nikolai petrov he wrote this paper for the university and it was never published their, they were unable to publish it. they were unable to publish it
anywhere except in the new york times. of thevidly, the rise activities as a vehicle of coercion and violence is seen in all these cases. -- 26 deputy governments under criminal four governorsnd are sitting in jail awaiting trial. mayors aredeputy also in the investigation from the size. inside the department of internal security, there has coined -- d --
[indiscernible] when he was a lifetime minister, he helped to finance and create the special department who combats the investigation. there is a men's corruption in the russian federation and many of those who are under investigation had been involved in all kinds of illegal activity. that theyon is not are investigated. the question is how those who are investigated were chosen.
types of regimes tend to be unpredictable and are more prone to all kinds of war, revenge like it neighbors happened with the annexation of crimea or the war in the eastern ukraine. [indiscernible] it is much more difficult to russiapositive change in . i would be happy to answer your with respect to the specific features of this regime. we are just saying that there is one interesting feature that week -- future that we with rese specific features of this obsere in the russian number clincher
grandkidsled by the of the kgb. what is interesting about the children is that many of them went to boarding schools in the west and some of them went through colleges and universities in the west. i don't want to imply that they must observe the values of western democracy. we are well aware that world dictators from different parts -- he world [indiscernible] my theory, my hypothesis is that these children who got an education and experience of living in the west, they don't
necessarily want to live in a .losed cell i would think that they would like the children to be better educated in the west because they are aware of the level of education inside russia, especially in terms of humanities. the would like to have small children go to the boarding schools in switzerland and the united kingdom. -- they areather making money inside russia but they have a fear of leaving outside russia. they have property and real estate, etc. as it was the case of the last union -- the soviet
what happened in russia in the 1990's, they used the old order for building up the new one and now we are dealing with the consequences, thank you. >> there is your vehicle. [applause] >> we will talk about that, later. mr. minister, your comments please. >> thank you. do you hear me? i was known for being soft-spoken and usually criticized by the opposition for that. argument and fight here, you will be disappointed because when i entered in the room this morning, i said i like everyonearch, and then who joined us came with the same opening words, i like your
isly thing which i could add bureaucraticf military security forces. that it could be ,ated at least 30 years earlier maybe 100 years earlier or maybe hundreds of years earlier in russia but that is probably too general and observation. observation. even stalin was supposed to be a single dictator, which he was on
democratic regime in russia. thank you. >> thank you mr. minister. let me ask a specific question. perhaps i should have foreshadowed this. what do you think of the corporatist the cyst in the paper -- thesis in the paper? for is the meaning developments in russia going forward? >> thank you. i am delighted to be here and thank you for the lead. such hard to argue with eminent personalities and people who really know firsthand the development of the russian system. i think there is a certain amount of tension in the faces then the thesis that corporatist system implies a degree of competition among various corporatist entities.
asas you describe it in the papr and in your presentation, you paint a much more authoritarian if not totalitarian system. there is really just one corporation or one clan in charge. as i was reading the paper, and thinking about my own very brief remarks, i could not help but think that one record of analysis and prediction was really quite poor over the last 30 years. we as a community of analysts have failed multiple times to predict major pivotal points in in evolution or revolutions russian politics. next sixorward to the ofrs, because i think
movement in russian politics in terms of presidential terms and we are about a month away from the next provincial 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 in the early or mid 90's. i think some have described it as a clan-based system and i think so survived by that time. societyces in russian really went away and what was left was competition for power and property among various clans or interest groups. in our political science, it implies a greater degree of openness in the system and it survives to the present day. it was philip -- facilitated to a large extent by the 1993 constitution which created the presidency that in the
1990's was very presidency thate 1990's was very weak and basically reduced to one clan, the family was centered in the kremlin. a number of other plans rose to prominence and in those days, it justify the name of being oligarchs -- justified the name of being oligarchs. since then, we have seen considerable change in the balance of power between the kremlin and these clans. it is reinforced by the power ministries really gaining the upper hand and for the entirety of the past 18 years, the time been in office, it has asserted itself as much more than first among equals in this arrangement. the competition among various interest does survive. it has not been completely
eliminated and at times, when the system feels a sense of uncertainty or weakness as was the case in 2007 and 2008, at the time of president putin's the end of his second term, questions about transition, i think we may be coming up on something similar in the years to come. this is not to say we are approaching a major transition in russian domestic politics. all signs point to a pretty stable arrangement with very few internal challenges and very few external challenges. this uncertainty about what will happen pose 2024, post mr. putin 's next term opens up the conversation in a way that has not been open until now. thethe next six years,
system seems quite able to handle the uncertainty of his any -- of any system. -- has been very prominent in promoting and describing the candidacy or the non-candidacy at this point of -- but it is clear to my mind that it struck a certain chord in russian domestic politics which at tosent is not really amount a major political challenge to the system, but i think there is a degree of uncertainty there and challenge the mastic to the system that we ought to be thinking about in serious ways, i don't think it is going to be a systemic change but a realignment perhaps. last but not least, my question
would be to both my colleagues to spoke before me and perhaps to you too, what do you make of this very strange presidential campaign? with -- being marginalized but still playing a huge role as a voice for many in the young generation and then there is the -- idates that raises a very uncomfortable system of howhe to handle it the raising of questions in the public sphere and it seems to make the kremlin uncomfortable and the same goes for the party candidate, grudinin who seems to be pushing
the boundary of the conversation that up until now has been quite constrained. we ought to consider the next six years and i am tempted to say that the title of this panel is really the direction of russian domestic politics. i think it is going in cycles or in circles but maybe it is a movement along a spiral and i will leave it at that. >> sandy, any comment on the corporatist thesis? much and it isry great to be on a panel with you. i am quite convinced by the case that the regime
has become more like a corporation than a personal dictatorship although it has elements of both. are quitee statistics impressive and extremely depressing in terms of the noon -- of the new number to deter -- i was particularly intrigued by some of the anecdotes. the service for the protection of cultural order and -- had been instrumental in suppressing dissent and protecting the strength of the regime. some interesting anecdotes about how putin's order seems to have
been overwritten which creates more evidence than the idea of a corporatist structure rather than a single man calling all the shots. -- suggested the corporate the corporation is dictating to putin. ashink they still need him the dispenser of illicit wealth and he is still one of them. it is not like they have a different agenda. the rest of the corporation needs putin's popularity, some of which is genuine. the paper leaves me convinced that if putin were to get run over by a bus tomorrow, like-minded people would be poised to take his place in the short term. whether other members of the corporation could maintain the as aion among themselves
"and. i am less convinced that the younger generation are going to be a force for liberalization in .he short term this is clearly something which is not new. today's kgb incorporated is the culmination of trends that began in putin's first-term. when i was ambassador, we saw the real -- the increasing and rubberstamping. of course, the hostile xenophobic attitude toward the foreign backers of civil society. first u.s. programs to get the acts during my time was the peace corps and now virtually all assistance and
exchange programs have been shut down. it is still quite startling to hear that the director of the fsb justify the repression of the 1930's, but i recall when i have the occasional meetings with the then leader, he said equally hair-raising things although in private. of course now he is head of the security council. trends were clear at the beginning of putin's time and have become more stark 18 years later. here we are, less than two invitation from the presidential election. it is interesting to watch the protests which were significant over the weekend. i think the regime has been relatively successful in pushing opposition to the mark -- to the
margins, containing it without -- harshersive force rememberingld come, the assassination has to have been signed off at senior levels . what does this mean for russian policy? believe that the priority that the leaders of this corporation attached to a strong state and suppression of pro-western opposition will translate into a continued confrontational policy toward the west, whether it is under putin or any successor.
corporationof this believe their own propaganda, that the united states and its allies are bent on regime change, that it's -- that the united states throws it supports -- its support for civil society and democratic values. thate, thatand of course the fr successful liberalization in the near and abroad could affect -- has been the main driver of increasing crackdown at home but it is also the main driver in russia's more aggressive foreign-policy. russia as encircled by a hostile nato and russia phobic west makes it a lot stagnationustify the that russia is experiencing, declining living standards.
,f there were a serious effort it would create new pressures to .eforming the system all the rhetoric about defending the russian world, putin or any other leader will be very wary around -- about entering into deals that would have to be defended against nationalists at home, such as a deal to genuinely pull out of the -- and the people's republic back to the ukraine. it is not impossible and i think the trump administration is right to try to test the russians at the bargaining the'k to the ukraine. table but at the end of the day, the leaders of this kgb led system may see little payoff in making
the kinds of concessions that would be needed to rebuild cooperation with the west. rather, they will opt for continued efforts to weaken and divide the west, to command attention to russia more as a spoiler than as a partner or problem solver and they will hitch russia's wagon to other reject the u.s. led international order, particularly countries like china which does not fully reject that order, or iran. for the united states and its to continue to prepare ourselves for a period of long-term competition with russia, strengthening countermeasures against destabilization, hybrid warfare. try to support the resilience of russia's neighbors and going back to the cold war toolbox in
terms of managing the competition using arms control, while recognizing the russians these days prefer to be unpredictable, i'm transparent, but we still have a duty to our own people to try to limit this competition as best as we can. >> that was a rather gloomy analysis. over -- turn the flow the floor over to you, i forgot to mention when i started, that this series of events, we owe pittsburgh forin sponsoring this. we are grateful. i wonder if you could pick up specifically on the question jean raised relating to the current presidential election. , mr.ank you very much ambassador.
i think it is very important to i may respond to what the minister said. historically, it has had a very prominent role. russia,n the czarist there was so-called thought departments. in the soviet times, local police, the kgb. -- which was born in 1918 was set up as a political police. we have documents and we know this. however, having said that, i would say that never before in the russian history, political police was in charge.
either under been the control of the czarist administration or in the soviet with the was competing , theimportant institution form of government and their word two structures in the soviet union, the communist party which ran from moscow to the smallest towns in the country and the same was true of the kgb. these were competing institutions. the very first time in the history of russia the political police is in charge, it is the it ise of the state and
the state itself. example, if you scrape, you will always find the .ame, as i do 2015, the chief of his administration, member of the kgb, speaker of the parliament, member of the kgb, heads of the anyway,ions, etc., so it is a very new reality and i ask you not to -- when we say it is more unpredictable, i would disagree because from my perspective, it is more predictable than the one
man in the room. we do know the rules of the game inside the kgb. know the fact that enemies that existed in the soviet union , we can more or less predict how these tools and instruments will be used and we see it. the recreation of the department to protect the constitution at the time was the famous ideological intelligence fifth directorate. the department to protect the constitution is now fighting universities.
it was this department that destroyed the best political science school in the country in st. petersburg. ofs department was in charge -- case me who loveslike my life in russia, i feel almost nostalgic, as if they are bringing back the time when i was young and lucky. it is not going to be a total state. there are several reasons for that. one is that it is a market economy and as you may not in ther, back in 19 -- 1980's, and even earlier than that, the head of the kgb became
the head of the political bureau and the leader of the soviet union. when he was the head of the kgb, whoreated groups of people develop a section of the market economy, the transformation of the soviet plan system that did not use the term market economy, but basically they were toying with the semi-capitalist system in yugoslavia, elements of private property or land that existed in poland. , these kgbt forces people, they are all involved in the market economy and obviously we are already seeing the competition between different groups inside the same corporations, for instant --
instant -- instance, -- during the soviet times, he is the head of the someny that consisted of 500 different industrial -- rprises [indiscernible] he has trouble now because of the sanctions imposed by the united states. they were able to develop, to drill for oil in and arctica. these are competing forces. they are going to compete. this will not allow for any total state. there will be no total state.
there is no ideology. they are trying to promote russian orthodox as a substitution for the communist ideology. it will not work. 10% of russians go to church. where -- ntry putin is a middleman and he will serve as a myth -- as a front for the corporation but i think out formistake to carry the notion of revenge in 2014, when -- with the success in ukraine, he would've carried this notion of revenge out for
the notion of revenge and it resulted in the annexation of in theand russian forces eastern ukraine is the result of the otherave up on forces inside his own government which were more liberal to a certain extent. of theme the hostage information that was coming out from the fsb. there will be reform in the next several months but intelligence will be back under the auspice of the fsb. [indiscernible] all the analysis is done by the department of the fsb. the decision-making body is his security council which is kgb people and his
deputies. he himself made a hostage of that situation and i don't think there is a way out for him. elections. -- a very talented politician. capable tone who is when he was under house arrest for a year, he read so much books and when he is in booksi always feed him and that is great. devoted.remely
and talented. he created the whole structure over the last year, all across russia. [indiscernible] all of a sudden, people in the kremlin realized that the send an opposition is not just in moscow or st. petersburg, but it existed out in the provinces as well. as a result of that, thousands of people came out to the rallies that were conducted. the majority of you never heard about them. this is a very russian periphery. there is a problem of turnout.
that is the biggest problem that the kremlin is preoccupied with. putin is going to proclaim to get whatever percent. i refused to use the word choice because there is no choice here. it is not a question of whether he is going to be elected or not, it is a question of legitimacy. it is a very vague idea in political science. it is not legal. 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 territory do thatnize -- the problem is as it was shown during the latest parliamentary elections, big cities don't vote for the
power. the last parliamentaryry elections in moscow, there was united russian got something like 30% in st. petersburg, 34%. so goes. from 13% to 20%. that's the most they go out in the cities. in the industrial cities. all across russia. of the russian federation. the problem is that of course the way the united russia and putin back in 2012 they get in approval. is through so-called electoral supernauts. that's how scientists in my part of the world call national republic in russia like chechnya, so it goes. putin got in putin got in a
couple places, 106%. they weren't able to understand why all of this were just loving it. great, 10 %. of course it is. -- 106%. of course it is. supernauts ctoral and the firm control of the administration, they do give from 10% to 50% added to the world. -- vote. in er as it was obvious 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 kremlin substitution, as desirable term out. the idea was easy. kremlin as that when central emlin, the election committee commission, but of course you understand all them are just parts, when they denied the registration, the expectations were that these will bring thousands of people -- young people in the streets. 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 -- they called them for these actions. it was wow. not just for kremlin, of course. they don't have a real feedback. therefore -- even for us, wouldn't expect this to happen. so that became a nightmare for the present administration that young people were going to come out on the streets. the minute it was going to be announced, not going to be registered as candidate. so you know by russian law those trying to get registered as candidates, they have to be voted by people in different -- 16,000 young people came out on the streets in different cities nd they said we want him to be our candidate.
o therefore, they decided that they need somebody they need somebody who is going to grab part of the electoral base. of course she's the best. she's extremely talented. smart, talented. and let's give her credit. the kind of things that she's allowed to say on channel 1 and channel 2 of this propaganda channels, major tv channels that over 90% of et households all across russia time zones, they never heard the word like annexation of crimea. they never heard that -- 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 stuff.
but of course the major idea candidacy of course is an attempt to increase the turnout in the big cities. that's as simple as that. but she's very talented. let's give her credit. ok. ambassador herbst: that was a tour de force. i want to get to our questions. i'll give our panel one minute for any minutes they want to make. mr. minister. minister kozyrev: i agree with verything. ambassador herbst: questions. right here first. wonderful. wait for a microphone. identify yourself. >> thank you very much. thank you very, very much for your explanation and mostly agree with. the thing is what strike me is
your difference of assessment between you and ambassador verb bow of putin's role. you say putin's a hostage, almost. ambassador is saying, for example, the killing of boris, nior level, more senior than kaderiv which i personally don't agree. the question to you is to what extent putin is houseage? can he fed up with this role, can he own his next term which is at least six years? can think of again, return to power. not to be the front company. for the whole different interests which are competing now. to ambassador vershbow, what
of cates to you that many this major decisions like killing of boris, so forth, i don't know. is making by putin himself? in what -- how to say. how much he's in control. what do you think? dr. albats: thank you very much for your question. let me put it this way. he's a willing who is ang. -- hostage. the pened by -- it's institutional design. he's going to be the face of this corporation. he is -- i never met him. and follow what he says 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 out everybody around him. there was -- anything. there was the bloodthirsty guys killing everybody around. there was a tool that stalin had. he was killing layer after layer . his instrument was his ability to point the new guy as the head, and this new guy, his first task was to kill everybody from before. everybody around yaguda was killed. he majority.
he filled his duty, he was sacked. killed. -- i e whole layer of spent quite some time in my life investigating this period. that's the kind of instrument that you have when there is one -- a dictatorship and you deal with the corporation. putin is anywhere close to being stalin. he doesn't have the resources and ability, etc., to do this. therefore he's putin is anywher hostage to the corporation. that's the institutional design. ambassador vershbow: it does mean that -- >> it does mean competition will develop. >> inside this type of corporations.
, interest wise wise,ets etc.. different side of competition inside the corporation are unavoidable. that's, nice because when they compete with each other they have less resources to kill us. i'm soarry. -- sorry. i have some personal stakes after all. ambassador vershbow: i agree. there are cleavages divisions. there is competition within the elite. i'm uncomfortable with treating him as a hostage, even a willing hostage. i think putin does have many advantages. he is a very big part vis-a-vis the other parts. he's able to maintain his primacy in a number of ways in terms of how he doles out the economic assets. i think particularly what's
interesting the last few years is how he's replacing a lot of the regional elites, governors, with younger, techno contractic k.g.b. people. but people more likely though their loyalty to him than anybody else. so i think he's finding a number position. ensure his we don't know a lot about the inner workings of political decisionmaking, including on big issues like the invasion of ukraine and the annexation of crimea. i think there is enough of a record of putin's statements, dismg ukraine as being a real country, and his -- dismissing ukraine as being a real country, and his gut relief that all these people are actively promoting revolutions in the former soviet republics. i think suggests this was a very personal issue for him. he felt that he was being
personally betrayed and undermined. i think there is a lot of evidence that the decision to go and to annex crimea, 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 in did he consult with people and make sure he wasn't going against the consensus? 'm sure that was the case. the other thing, putin unlike a lot of these faceless members of nomenclature, does have a personal standing with the people. he maintains that. he cultivates it with the big tv interview every year with the staged nomenclature, does outre public as we're seeing during his so-called election campaign. he can bank on a bit of popular support even if it will be inflatesed in terms of the actual vote count. that some these other characters don't have. the question for me is he going to become a lame duck? the next six years is going to
be interesting. he could, as he could have done after his second term, changed the constitution to allow himself to run or they could create some new honor riffic super presidency that -- honorific super presidency that could allow him to stay in power until he dies. 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 elite as they try to get the upper hand before they get someone replaced by more identified with putin. >> thanks. someone more identified i'm a recovering soviettologist. 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 s well as russian ---russia. dr. albats: would you want us to change places? i give you my apartment in moscow. >> 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 businesspeople from new york largely. 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. so my question is, what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of russia today? and how is the west and united states best postured to deal with them in more sensible policies? because right now i think putin is running circles around us.
i think that we're awkward and we're clumsy. and to the degree that we need to be smarter, perhaps we need to focus on the obvious strengths and weaknesses of russia to design better policies. the current ones to me don't seem to be working. dr. albats: may i ask you. what was the last time were you at moscow? >> i go every year to the moscow security conference. i meet with a lot of heavy hitters. then you know. you have such great conversations. no need for me to explain the simple things they can do this, right. then all this retrobrought the comparison between the united --tes and russia is just >> i think you missed my point. that's not what i was saying. i was being slightly tongue in cheek in terms of leaders bring their teams with them and it should be no shock that the k.g.b., which was where putin was raised, he was going to bring his colleagues just as
american presidents bring their eams with them, too. dr. albats: how many political appointees in washington, d.c.? >> i missed your question. dr. albats: how many political appointees in washington, d.c.? >> there should be around 4,000. of which only a handful really count. dr. albats: so we're talking about the numbers. i would say probably hundred times more. than 4,000. we're talking about people who are trying very hard to control not just decisionmaking fear in moscow, but all across the country. we're talking about the people who are tempting with the
statistical data in the regions in order to influence decisionmaking in moscow. we're talking about people who ake wise deputy governments to present documents with respect -- just impossible even to compare. either you really don't understand the way russian government, russia's 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 harvard university. answer your question. sorry. >> i take your point and all. we do have answer your question. sorry. competitive elections. let's just say that. and move on to the question that i think is far more important
that you raise for how we can position ourselves to deal with russia. i think that's a key question for us to answer because for the past 30 years we have pursued the same policy toward russia. dr. rumer: inevitably with every new administration coming in, promising to make things better and inevitably finding -- dr. rumer: inevitably with leaving a relationship to its successor in a much more shape than it found it in. it's also important to recognize that the success of -- successive administrations, despite the ideological differences, have approached russia with basically the same mindset. you can call it the end of history. you can call it, whatever. but the expectation was russia would change and become like us. that clearly hasn't happened.
i think we need to go back to really rethinking our russia policy. something that in the rushian multiple sanctions on russia we have not done. sanctions are not apolicy. it's a tool. but we have not really answered the question of what it is we ant from russia. what our interests is in russia, around russia, in the territories that are currently being contested. and i think that's the first step. then the rest will flow from that. ambassador herbst: question over here. >> i have a question for our guest from russia. i wanted to -- i'm sure you believe in the future of your country. i can see you are both great patriots. do nted to ask if -- when
you think that bert 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 do you think that this is a matterf decades? 50 years? 100 years? i would love to hear your houghts. dr. albats: i really not -- i don't know how to read the crystal ball. that's my problem. i'm a journalist. i am 59-year-old. i hate to think that i'm going to die under putin. that's it. that's all i have to answer for hat. >> crystal ball. i left it in my home unfortunately. minister kozyrev: i didn't know you would come with this question. actually it's connected to the previous discussion.
i think it was actually very, very cute observation and very good question. think america is inching slowly to better understanding and better reacting to russia. irst of all it started under obama. i like obama. i think he was one of the greatest american presidents. but he was a little slow, timid, kind of in moving on some issues like syria or russia. however slowly, but america is approaching today en probably with reluctant white house, but the congress
definitely seems to be on the right track. especially with this last law which was passed overwhelmingly if i remember correctly. senators. - 98 98 senators. of the st 400 members house. that law, along with previously adopted laws, that is more accurate. it does not speak of russia actually. this is misuse of words. the better way is to speak of he regime like exemplary
yevgenia, i told you you will hear everything you need to know from her. it's the regime. it's not even necessarily only putin himself, but the regime from is not only different russia, should be taken differently. but interest of this regime, of this corporation, from russia whatever it contrary to fundamental national interests of russia. so as long as america and the west tries to talk to russian diplomats, or whatever, political class, arguing for national interests of russia, of course it is contrary to russian national interests to fight with ukraine, who are our brothers.
it is even farther from national interests to take a military adventure somewhere, nowhere in syria. where there are no interests for russia. so -- but the regime is different. the they started from last legislation, and the least however you the evaluate this, the least was published just few days, might be two days ago, one y ago, that is much more closer to addressing the regime and dealing with the regime. and finding yourself something bout strong and weak points in
russia. yes. that's the achilles heel. of the regime. the rules,er the interests of this regime was -- simplistically. spent in the a, west. keeping russia people under k.g.b. legacy. so that they sit calm and keep them under propaganda. but spend in the west in democracy, in legal system, if you deprive them from that or threaten them
considerably, ability to spend time, money, and have their or favors and everything, in the western side, on the western side, then you will start addressing the achilles' heel. and that's what is happening. d i hope that on this road to start to heed not only bravado like they are playing. take it easy. it's just a bravado. in thefact, it never was cards for this political class russia to be sitting in the small soviet union, called putin's russia, whatever, and that was for the people not for them. so that's the game changer.
and how they react there are can react. w they they are politically powerful. financially powerful. they know each other. quite well. there is potential for all kind of tricks. all kind of interpretations. i feel rather optimistic for the -- for america as usual. trying older approaches but finally do the right one. so i'm probably in the right place. ambassador herbst: we have time for one more question. his gentleman over here. >> would you explain one
interesting phenomenon. in latvia we have hups of tv station, hubs of regular tations. but also parliamentary elections russian citizens reside in latvia, 75% of them voted for nicea. if you take russian, ethnic russians leaving latvia, latvian citizens, noncitizens, those deprived of vote even in municipal elections support of them for personal would go at least 90. how do you explain that? ask how the e to in syria fits re into what you have been describing.
has the motivation changed? does in syria this add or detra legitimacy? and has the weakness of western response, u.s. response, fed an appetite for a new russian dventurism abroad? ambassador vershbow: i leave to colleagues why putin is getting so many votes among russians in latvia. on the second one, i think the original russian objective was limited to saving the regime from collapse. this is because russia viewed it as yet another example of u.s. promotion of regime change. saddam hussein, gaddafi, assad will be next. the agenda got more ambitious after the initial success in russia realized in part because of the incoherence of the u.s. and western policy that it could make deeper inroads.
and become more of the arbitors of the future direction of syria. getting it across the finish line may prove more difficult in terms of any kind of diplomatic outcome that could stitch the country back together even in a loose configuration. the russians may have bitten off more than they could chew. so far i don't think they think it 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. playing around with libya. they will push on as many open doors like the thief in the hotel. we need to do a better job locking the doors. dr. rumer: i think it's a misnomer to call it an adventure. i think it was a calculated move. they have long-standing interest
in the middle east. they have been dealing with the assad family for over 40 years. this was their last outpost in the middle east. and they felt they had the means , the necessary interests, and the opportunity to walk in and do what they felt was important. i think it's not a question of them sort of feeling emboldened, but i think we're dealing with a very different russian foreign policy post 2014 or post 2012. 12 was the return of mr. putin to the kremlin as president. they have been acting with newfound confidence, i would say. the number of places you could say that a lot of these are really opportunities for bottom feeding, so to speak. such as the ma curea regime in venezuela. these opportunities come up they'll take advantage of them.
because they can. ambassador herbst: any comments? minister kozyrev: the interest in syria probably i was invited an former minister to tell anecdote. i will do that. it ew to syria in i think as 1993. and his father, the assad friend of the soviet union, and i was thinking of our interests of course and to persuaderest was
him to behave. o say at least more moderately ike moderate also by the way dictatorships around there in the larger area. for the interest of -- general interest of stability in the middle east. but my special interest was to ask, especially due to the very, very low price of oil, which we suffered from economically in our time, our government, our interest was to see whether he would pay at least some of the debt which we count as a debt to the soviet union and we inherited the debt. d our count was around 12 or
something, billion dollars at that time it would be dream world to have -- even have half of that. or a quarter of that. mr. president,t, we're old friends. like moscow and damascus. and what about the debt? he was mesmerized. sincerely he was an old man. but he looked at me and said, you know, it's unbelievable for 30 years, i don't remember how many, but decades, i am dictator here. 20-something. from to entertain andre graminko, t is andre who were coming to me and
telling me to stay firm against american imperialism and israeli giving me d he was weapons for that. so i was standing there like a soldier with a weapon given to me to stand against the enemy. now here comes another andre, younger andre from moscow. he tells me that service for 20 years was totally misguided. he has no responsibility for my service. of nly -- i mean a degree respect. but he tells me that i have to reverse the service. and more of them that they have
to pay for the weapon which were given to me on my duty. i mean it's mind-boggling. and when i was listening to him, there t, jesus christ, is a reason in what he says. later on i was reluctant to do that, but later on i think they was a nd of -- there shenanigans like always. somebody probably got reach on this transaction. but mostly he never paid anything. for real. anyway, his son -- i mean, yes.
it's probablely -- probably the same interests which had the previous andre. looking from kremlin in their -- they think the exhaled when he saw my successor. as early as mid 1990's, the old interest came into the assad family. stand against american. it's not imperialism. it's hegemony. one country domination. hatever. whatever the word is. but the essence is the same.
dr. albats: with the minister, i will answer with an anecdote. -- the estonian, lat tia last summer in august. people from some organization, estonian, to give a talk, i was happy to do that because it was long time since i was in the former republic of the soviet union. so there was some party afterwards which ended up with somebody saying quote, good russian, dead russian. thank you int i said so much. no more. nd left the party.
so it is -- with all due respect of derstand the suffering the latvia and estonia as a result of the soviet occupation. and so many hundreds of thousands of latvians, estonians, they perished in siberia. however, it's notizey thing to be a russian speaker -- not an easy thing to be a russian speaker in estonia, latvia nowadays. you probably know this better than do i. that's my explanation to the fact that those who -- that russian population, russian speakers in this countries, they do vote united russia, or they love putin. however when there was a research conducted respect to
whether those russian speakers would love to leave the european union and go back to russia, the absolute majority said no. and especially after the ruble collapsed in -- at the end of 2014, it turned out that medical insurance in the european union turned out to be much better than the one they could get in russia. and that was one of the reason -- therefore i think we should be very careful with all this palls and we shouldn't take it to face value what people -- pause, and we shouldn't take it to face value what people say to the pollsters.
i also want to say we never touched this question, but i really believe that if you -- if it's about the corporation which has taken over our russian internal and external politics, i would say we should expect the type of foreign policy which will be clandestine operations, very pragmatic, very different from what existed in the -- during the soviet times. figure out the russian foreign policy out of what existed under soviets. for instance, my understanding -- i don't want -- my understanding of this whole of desperation
that putin admitted. he saw the success. of the crimea annexation in russia. he was looking for something that would prolong this effect. apparently russians give lip service to what's happening in syria. so it didn't work. i think that will be another kind of thing that we should expect. thank you so much. ambassador herbst: thank you. all our panelists thank you. thank all the audience. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> you can see this discussion any time online at c-span.org. just search atlantic council in our video library. our coverage from the republican retreat in greenbrier, west virginia continues. the president will be speaking to the group this afternoon at 12:30 eastern. we'll have that live a bit later on. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and the house speaker, paul ryan, will hold a news briefing from the retreat. we'll have that live as well at 2:30. the president making his way back to washington this afternoon. he'll speak tonight to the republican national committee winter meeting. gathering at the trump hotel in
downtown washington. that's live at :00 p.m. here on c-span. also in washington this evening, supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg sits down for a discussion with the editor in chief of forward magazine. they are expected to talk about the intersection between law, media, and jewish life. live coverage of that is at :00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> c-span's history series, landmark cases, returns next month with a look at 12 new supreme court cases. each week historians and experts join to us discuss the constitutional issues and personal stories behind these significant supreme court decisions. beginning monday, february 26, at 9:00 p.m. eastern. and help you better understand each case we have a companion guide written by veteran supreme court journalist, tony morrow. landmark cases, volume at 9:00 the book costs $8.95 plus shipping and handling. to get your copy go to
c-span.org slash landmark cases. >> now our discussion on some of the upcoming cases before the supreme court. attorneys who have argued before the high courts talk about. so cases being considered, including janice v. american federation, which concerns public unions and fees. united states v. microsoft on emails and privacy. and south dakota v. way fair regarding online sales taxes. this is from the georgetown university law center. food just and proceed quietly. we will get the program started. i am the executive director -- [audio lost]