tv Russian Politics President Putin CSPAN February 1, 2018 6:37pm-8:14pm EST
you, issues that impact max g up friday morning, tires talks about the federal work force under the trump administration. cato institute reform and igration so-called chain immigration, and then the foreign intelligence surveillance act and wiretapping of u.s. citizens, a conversation georgetown university law school professor joshua -- be c-span washington journal live at 7:00 eastern morning. join the discussion. at the on c-span, a look future of russian politics and a iscussion about the country's direction under president putin. his was hosted by the atlantic council in washington, d.c. *-
>> we have a topnotch journalist from moscow, he's presented a and fascinating on russia politically. comment on that. former deputy secretary general will bat cleanup for us this morning and turn it over to the doctor. >> thank you very much. extend our to the re gratitude to ambassador, who invited me and to write a paper to center.cil and the thank you very much for coming for this event. persistence,
of the he main topic paper that i wrote, and then we haveer, i argue that been witnessing the of the regime in ussia, which is now in istory -- italy, mussolini, and portugal. o be sure, there is no -- no conspiracy in the story that i'm outlining. that when guing has becomeimir putin the president of the russian confederation in 2000 he broke
the whole range of people from his old job, the the years, in a first of eight years, eight years, they staffed all russian government to the apparatus of the government, the administration. result, by 2008, almost 67% of all positions in the top russian the nomenclature, occupied by the kgb army officers and russian s people from the intelligence group. vivid init became very the public sphere that the much run by etty he people who grew up inside
the soviet union political palace, or by their sons and daughters. witnessing the formation of the whole klan of who are united by the common background, common -- by ed -- ethicscode of what is right and wrong, and by what was developed after the soviet union collapsed and the russia came about. as a result, just to put it into perspective, aware, in late december, he announced prime minister perspective, in 1999, the last year putin was president of the russian ederation, as you're putin as s successor. six, i re four to
obviously, when you have this overrepresentation of people from one institution, in all -- in all layers of the government, they bring with their institutional culture. they bring with themselves their is right ing of what and what is wrong in politics. they bring with themselves instruments. back when they were young. the numbers,
interest, military of the coalition to use that's exactly what you see in russia. ince 2012, there are eight cases of so-called terrorist ases investigated and persecuted in russia. cases.r four it's nowadays a substitution for anti-soviet propaganda cases that existed back in soviet times. the paper, the brilliant paper, that was
-- done by a well-known columnist and writer in russia, this paper for the university of the school of conomics and it was never published. they were unable to publish it. it weren't able to publish a magazine. vividly, the rise of the fsb activities, as a vehicle of iolence, is seen in all these new cases.he governors, 10 overall, the number now, the -- governments under criminal four igations, and jail ments are sitting in
awaiting trials. they are under the investigation. inside the department of internal security, this has been call -- what was in the russian -- he's head of the russian biggest oil company. he has been --e, when he was the vice prime inister here, he helped to finance and to create this very inside a veryment special department who has utted investigations against nomenclature. immense corruption in russian federation and many
of those under investigation had been involved in all kind of illegal activities. the question is not the fact, r ou know, that they are investigated, the question is, voted were chosen, because, you see, it's not just choice, right? you clearly see that all those governments who were appointed, the then, you y the one time substitute for -- all of them, they were or they are under criminal investigation right now. you know, belief, the former government, the oorest region of the russian federation, who went -- had local fsb, he's 10-year sentence
in jail. consequences. it's a long talk what, you know, brings to ture this russia. thatt want to point to you news. are good and bad good news is that regimes tend unpredictable and more of e to all kind of war revenge with neighbors. for happened, in the case, instance, the annexation of chrimea, or ukraine. they are more stable. they are more persistent, and more unately, they are consolidated. therefore, it's much more difficult to expect, you know,
positive change in russia. be happy to answer your questions with respect to the regime. features of the here i'll just say, you know, here is one very interesting feature that we observe now mong this new russian nomenclature. obviously, kgb officers, they mid-sits, some even older than that, and they have your children who are also, know, already joined the ranks, many of them have joined the russian the top nomenclature. heredity. almost heredity. yes.
capitalism. the children of the kgb nomenclature, they take over the banks. big banks especially state owned et s, corporationings, cetera. are led by 10 halves the kgb. 5 agencies, head of agencies, governmental agencies, or deputy governmental about sis, are led by agents of the kgb. but talking about their what is very interesting about that is that many of them, they went through boarding schools in the west, and some of them went and the he colleges universities in the west. they t want to imply that necessarily observed the values of the western democracy. that, you aware of know, that a lot of dictators rom different parts of the world, they prefer their kids to
start in the uk or in the unite world, states. however, what is important is theory, my hypothesis, is that these children who got their education and got the experience of living wouldn't t, they leave in the closed sale by the name -- i would think that they would like their children to be educated in the west they are pretty much aware about the level of education inside russia, which good.tunately is not especially in terms of humanities and political a disaster.t they would like to have their boardingldren to go to schools in switzerland and the uk. they would like -- they would the -- they now, are making money inside russia
but refuse to leave outside russia. there, e their essence property, real estate, et et cetera. as it was the case -- the case soviet union, when opening the n country, i believe they can democratic and evelopment or at least some signs of the possibility of democratic development in russia. here. i would stop i just want, you know, just riefly, you know, there is a book that i love the most. you know, i think, large al scientists at overlooked this book, which is called the old regime and the revolution. i would just allow, talking
about, institutional of course,, written, of the ons fail -- one latest, which basically refers o the same problem of institutional persistence in different countries. just believe that tocqueville's saying of the french revolution is extremely applicable of the situation with the failure of the democratic russia.on in writes, that he though they had no inkling of this, they took over from the old regime, not only most of it, customs, conventions, and mounds very ught, but even those ideals, which prompted our revolutionaries to destroy it. that, in fact, though nothing was further from their
-- of ons, they used the the old order for building up that's exactly what happened in russia in the 1990s. they used -- of the new, of the old order for building up the t new one. we're dealing with the consequences. you. >> there is your vehicle. there is your vehicle. we'll talk about that later. r. minister, your comments, please. >> thank you. >> do you hear me? being nown for soft-spoken, and usually the opposition for that. if you expect argument and fight ere, you will be probably disappointed, because when i entered in the room this morning, i said, i like your
then everyone who joined us came with the same opening words. research.r mutual,bly then everyone it wia or rather, admiration society here. which i very much welcome occurred to me hat i first read her researchings writings, as a publicist about 30 years ago. you believe it? child at that a time. in the moscow news, peristroika.
from then i agree with almost everything she writes. it almost exhausts my comments. which i could add to that, this notion of --horitarian military ratic forces.y >> it occurs to me that it could be dated at least 30 years forc. >> it earlier. maybe hahn years earlier. or maybe -- a hundred years or maybe hundreds of russia.rlier in but that's probably too general observation. i think it was also the same in
soviet union, despite ev -- stalin was supposed to be a single dictator, which he was, on one >> even stalin was supposed to be a single dictator, which he was on the one hand. on the otherhand, he was promoted by a new class which was actually heir to the old ways or old bureaucracies, not level.rily the top a lot of their habits and ways affected the course of the
soviet union. my impression is that this kind of structure is in vicious circles. th is it coming repetitious after periods of major revolutionaryevents which look on the surface as a events liketionary in 1917 or 1980, and then in our times, that is a little bit of history. political.eit is , history, happened history, history, but anyway, so that is what i can offer as a degree of both soviet and failed
in in russia.ime 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 thesis in the paper? what is the meaning for developments in russia going forward? >> thank you. i am delighted to be here and thank you for the lead. it is hard to argue with such 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 thesis that the corporatist system implies a degree of competition among various corporatist
entities. you describe it, both in the paper and in your presentation, you paint a much more authoritarian, if not totalitarian, system. that is at least how i read it. there is really just one corporation or one clan in charge. as i was reading your paper and thinking about my own very brief remarks, i could not help but think that one record of oflysis and prediction russian domestic politics is really quite poor over the last 30 years. we as a community of analysts have failed multiple times to predict major pivotal points in the evolution or revolutions in russian domestic politics. looking forward to the next six
years, because i think of movement in russian politics in terms of presidential terms, we are about a month away from the years, because i thinknext prov. 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 1990's. i think i think some have described it as a clan-based system and i think so survived by that time. fundamental differences in russian society really went away and what was left was competition for power and property among various clans or you can call them interest groups, but interest groups imply a greater degree of pluralism, and openness. the imply a greater system survivese present day, and was facilitated to a large extent by the 1993 constitution, which created the super presidency that in the
1990's was very weak and basically reduced to one clan, the family was centered in the kremlin, but a number of other clans rose to prominence, justified justifiedt the name of oligarchs. since then, we have seen considerable change in the balance of power between the kremlin and these clans. the kremlin perhaps as was pointed out his reinforced by the power ministries, and really gained the upper hand and for the entirety of the past 18 years, the time that putin has been in office, it has asserted itself as much more than first among equals in this arrangement. , the competition among .arious interests does survive i don't think it has 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 in that of his second term, questions about transition. and i think we may be coming up on something similar in the years to calm. 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, i would say. but this uncertainty about what will happen post-2024, post mr. clinton's next term, i hope opens up the conversation in a way that has not been open until now. for the next six years, i
emphasize the system appears to be quite able to handle the uncertainty and any source of domestic discontent or challenge, and certainly we are seeing elements of the mystic domestict now -- of discontent now. -- has been very prominent in promoting and describing the non-candidacy of alexander navalny. but it is clear to my mind that it struck a certain chord in
russian domestic politics which at present is not really amounting to 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 toyou too, what do you make of this very strange presidential campaign? being marginalized but still playing a huge role as a voice for many in the young generation , and then there is the candidates. very uncomfortable question for the system of how to handle it, very uncomfortable question for the because just tr sheer presence and raising of questions in the public sphere 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. think in the follow-on to prepared remarks that we ought to consider the next six years. i am tempted to say in conclusion think in the that thf this panel is really the of russian domestic politics. i think it is going in cycles or encircles, but maybe it is a movement along a spiral. i will leave it at that. >> sandy, any comment on the corporatist thesis? also specifically on the foreign policy site, if any. >> ok. thank you very much, and it is great to be on this panel. my days as ambassador taught me a lot about the system as it was beginning to emerge back then. i quite convinced by the case in am your paper that the regime has become more like a corporation than a personal dictatorship, although it has
elements of both. i think some of the statistics are quite impressive and extremely depressing in terms of with theomenclature steady growth and dominance at all levels of the system. was fsb veterans, i intrigued by the anecdotes. i urge everyone to read the paper when it is issued, which highlights the role of some key institutions, the federal security guard service, which were under different names during the soviet period, have been instrumental in suppressing dissent and protecting the strength of the regime. some interesting anecdotes about how putin's orders seems to have
been overwritten, which creates more evidence than the idea of a corporatiststructure rather than a single man calling all the shots. although at one point you suggested the corporation is dictating to putin. i think that is a a little strong. they still need him as the dispenser of illicit wealth and he is one of them. it is not like they have a different agenda. i think the rest of the corporation needs putin's popularity, some of which is genuine in that sense of being the anti-yeltsin, who brought a certain degree of stability to russia, so they are all in this together. 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 among themselves is an
open question. i am less convinced that the younger generation are going to be a force for liberalization in the short term, but it is a hopeful theory that we can hope pans out down the road. but 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 increasing intolerance of a real opposition, transition to a rubberstamp parliament, suppressing media, ngos engaged in human rights activities, and the hostile, xenophobic attitude toward the foreign backers of civil society. of the first u.s. programs to during my time was the peace corps, and now virtually all assistance and exchange programs have been shut down.
so it is still quite startling to hear that the director of the fsb justify the repression of the 1930's, but i actually recall when i have the occasional meetings with the then, fsb director, he said equally hair-raising things, although in private. of course now he is head of the security council. the trends were clear at the beginning of putin's time and have become more stark 18 years later. so here we are less than two months away from the imitation presidential election scheduled on the 18th of march. it is interesting to watch the protests which were significant over the weekend. still, i think the regime has been relatively successful in pushing opposition to the margins, containing it without
having to use excessive force. they are being careful not to navalneyxander into a martyr. i'm sure harsher measures could come, remembering the assassination of boers numb soft , had to be signed off at senior levels of the regime. boris nemstov, had to be signed off at senior levels of the regime. harsher measures could come, remembering the assassination has to have been signed off at senior levels. what does this mean for russian policy? i believe that the priority that the leaders ofthis corporation
leaders of this corporation attached to a strong state and suppression of pro-western opposition will translateinto a continued confrontational policy toward the west, whether it is under putin or any successor. inis also the main driver more aggressive foreign-policy. , for training russia encircled by a hostile nato and russia phobic west makes it a
lot easier to justify the stagnation that russia is experiencing, declining living standards. having unleashed russian nationalism and rhetoric about defending the russian world, putin or any other leader will be very wary about entering into deals that would have to be defended against nationalists at home, such as a deal to generally pull out of the d onbass and hand 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 the possible discussions of a you and peacekeeping force, 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 states that also reject the u.s.-led international order, particularly countries like china and the which does not fully reject that order, or iran. so for the united states and its allies this means we need to continue to prepare ourselves for a period of long-term competition with russia, defenses, our own strengthening our countermeasures against destabilization, disinformation, 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,
confidence building measures, and the like, while recognizing the russians these days prefer to be unpredictable, not transparent, but we still have a duty to our own people to try to limit this competition as best we can. >> well that was a rather gloomy analysis. all right, before i turned the floor over to you again, i want to make i forgot to mention when one point. that this series of events, this presentation, we owe our sponsor in pittsburgh for sponsoring this. we are grateful to them for it. thati wonder if you could pickp specifically on the question raised relating to the current presidential election. much, mr.ou very ambassador, i will definitely respond to this. question withent
what they call elections in russia. to thing i would like respond to is what the minister said. political polls and russia have had a historical role. it was in the czarist russia, there was so-called thought departments. in the soviet times, local police, the kgb. thoughtand the organization thas born in 1918 was set up as a political police be or documents. we know this. however, having said that, i would say that never before in the russian history, political police was in charge. always been either under
the control of the czarist administration, or in the soviet times, it was competing with the most important institution, the communist party was the formal government, and there were two structures in the soviet union, the communist party which ran all the way from moscow to the smallest towns in the country, and the same was true of the kgb. these were these were competing institutions. the very first time in the history of russia the political police is in charge. it is the essence of the state and it sees itself as a protector of the state and is
the state itself or just to give scratch,ample, if you you always find the same background, as i do since it became my hobby. 2015, the chief of his administration, member of the kgb, speaker of the parliament, member of the kgb, heads of the corporations, etc., etc. so in a way it is a very new reality and i ask you not to underestimate it is a very new reality. 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.
it is difficult to hit into the head of putin, but we do know the rules of the game inside the kgb. for instance, we know the fact that enemies that existed in were more orion more or less predict how these tools and instruments will be used and we see it. therecreation of the the recreation of the department to protect the constitution at the time was the famous ideological intelligence fifth directorate. the department to the department to protect the constitution is now fighting universities. it was this it was this department that destroyed the best political
science school in the country in st. petersburg. it is this department in charge -- so, you know, for somebody like me who loves my life in russia, i feel almost nostalgic. i feel as if they are bringing back my time when i was young and lucky. no, it is not going to be a totalitarian state. there are several reasons for that. one is that it is a market economy and as you may not theay not remember, back in 1980's, even earlier than that, when andropov was the head of the kgb. he became the head of the political bureau and the leader
of the soviet union. when he was the head of the kgb, he created inside the kgb groups of people who developed the market economy, the transformation of the soviet plan system that did not use the term market economy, but basically they were toying with a kind of semi-capitalism that existed, and then you have yugoslavia with elements of private property, or landed existed in poland, so these market forces, these kgb people, are all involved in the market economy, and obviously we are already seeing the competition between different groups inside with thecorporations same plans. whoexample, one person served with putin during the germany, he, and in
is head of the company that consisted of some 500 different industrial enterprises. stand to be more interested in closing the russian market from the competitors from the other countries. whereas, for instance, the head rosneft has trouble now because of sanctions imposed on the united states. these are competing forces. they are going to compete. this will not allow for any total state. the will be no total state. why?
there is no ideology. they are trying to promote russian orthodox as a substitution for the communist ideology. it will not work. where stats claim 70%, 80% of citizens are orthodox, but only 10% go to the church. ideology is a prerequisite for the total state, putin. not, obviously he is a middleman and 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 with then 2014 when -- success of the m ukraine.
he would've carried this notion of revenge out for the notion of revenge and it resulted in the annexation of crimea and russian forces in eastern ukraine. as a result of that, he gave up on the other forces inside his own government which were more the brought to a certain extent. he became the hostage of the information that was coming out from the fsb. there will be reform in the next several months and intelligence will be back under the auspice of the fsb. totally re-creating thethe nexe structure of the kgb. so he became a hostage of fat. all the analysis is done by the analytical department of the fsb. the decision-making body is his security council, which is staffed with kgb people and his deputies.
so he himself made a hostage of that situation, and i don't think there is a way out for him. now, upcoming elections. alexei navalny is the most talented opposition leader in russia, and a very talented politician. trust me. to eve allne capable and learn and he has been through a lot when he was under house arrest for a year. he read so many books, and when he is in jail, i always feed him books, books, and that is great. ands extremely devoted politician.
he created the whole structure over the last year, all across russia. west, histo organization existed now in the russian provinces. the people in the kremlin that it existed 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 there were conducted by navalny. you don't know the cities. the majority of you never heard about them. this is a very russian periphery, what we call the third russia. there is a problem of turnout. that is the biggest problem that the kremlin is preoccupied with.
of course putin is going to proclaim to get whatever percent. it doesn't matter. he will be real pointed as president of the russian federation. to use the word voting or 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. legitimacy 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 particular --ritory do recognize the problem is that as it was shown during the latest parliamentary elections, big
cities don't vote for the party in power. the last parliamentaryry elections in moscow, there was united russian got something like 30% in st. petersburg, 34%, and so goes. from 13% to 20%. that's the most they go out in the industrial cities all across the russian federation. the problem is that of course the way the united russia and putin back in 2012 they get in this huge approval
. is through so-called electoral supernauts, that's how political scientists in my part of the world call national republic in russia like chechnya, so it goes. in 2012 i believe 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. so these electoral supernauts and the firm control of the administration, they do give from 10% to 50% added to the world. -- to the vote. 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 thepresident of periphery, but the president of the country, he has to get votes from the people
kremlin, but the central election committee commission, but of course you understand all of them are just parts, when they denied the registration, the expectations were that these will bring thousands of 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 -- they called them for these actions. it was wow. not just for kremlin, of course. they don't have a real feedback. even for us, wouldn't expect this to happen, so that became a nightmare for the presidential 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 and they said we want him to be our candidate.
therefore, they decided that they need somebody who is going to grab part of navalny's electoral base, and of course ksenia sobchak is the best. she's extremely talented. smart, talented. and let's give her credit. and let's give her credit. the kind of things that she's allowed to say on channel 1 and channel to, these propaganda channels, major tv channels that get to over 90% of households all across russian time zones, they never heard the word like annexation of crimea. they never heard that. was a violation of international law what happened on march 18, 2014. this is important. words do have meaning. it is important that she comes
out and says all these kinds of things. but of course the major idea behind her candidacy of course is an attempt to increase the turnout in the big cities. so that is as simple as that, but she is very talented. let's give her credit. ambassador herbst: that was a tour de force. i want to get to i want to get to our questions. i'll give ourpanel one minute for any minutes they want to make. mr. minister. minister kozyrev: i agree with everything. [laughter] ambassador herbst: questions. right here first. that was wonderful. a microphone, and please identify yourself. >> thank you very much. thank you very, very much for your expectation. i mostly agree with you. struck methat
is your difference of assessments between you and the ambassador on putin's role. you say putin's a hostage, almost. struckambassador, you are sayir example, the killing of boris, senior-level, then kaderiv which i personally don't agree. the question to you is to what .xtent putin is a hostage and can he fed up with this role, can he own his next term canich is in the six years, return to power, and not to be the front company for the whole different interests which are competing now. and to the ambassador vershbow,
what indicates to you that many of this of this major decisions killing of boris ne crimea, the invasion of so forth, is making by putin himself? control of as in wiki think? dr. albats: thank you very much for your question. let me put it this way, he is a willing hostage. it is by institutional design. he's going to be the face of this corporation. i never met him, but i follow what he says and what he does very closely.
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 a tool that stalin had. he was killin late after layer -- killing layer after layer of kists.ist
there was the bloodthirsty guys killing everybody around. there was a tool that stalin had. 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 yaguda was killed. he fulfilled his duty. he was sacked. killed. i spent quite some time in my life investigating this period. that's the kind of instrument that you have when there is one and you deal with the dictatorship corporation. i doubt putin is anywhere close to being stalin. he doesn't have the resources and ability, etc., to do this. therefore he is doomed to become hostage to the corporation. that is the institutional design. ambassador vershbow: it does mean that competition will develop in? -- develop then? >> inside this type of corporations. generation
wise,tion wise, interest etc., different sides of competition inside the corporation are unavoidable. that is very nice, because when they compete with each other , they have less resources to kill us. i am sorry. i have some personal stakes after all. >> 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 has a very big part vis-a-vis the other parts. he's able to he is able to maintain his primacy in a number of ways in terms of how he doles out the economic assets.he is able to mn
i think particularly what is interesting in the last few years is how he's replacing a lot of the regional elites, governors, with younger, technocratic kgb people. but people more likely though their loyalty to him than anybody else, so i think he's finding a number of ways to ensure his position. we don't know a lot about the inner workings of political decision-making, including on big issues like the invasion of ukraine and the annexation of crimea, but i think there is enough of a record of putin's statements dismissing ukraine as being a real country, the cia andeve that all these people are actively promoting revolutions in the near abroad 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 annexed crimea, which is the step he didn't need to take, 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 goingagainst against the consensus? i'm sure that was the case. the other thing, putin unlike a lot of these faceless members of this new nomenclature, does have a personal standing with the people. he maintains that. he cultivates it with the big tv interview every year withthe staged nomenclature, does outreach events to the 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 stag, 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, change the constitution to allow himself to run or they could create some new honorific super , presidency that could allow him to stay in power until he dies. at the moment that is 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 purged and replaced by someone more identified with putin. >> thank you. question over here. thanks. i 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 as well as russia. >> 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 moscow. >> senior politicians come in with him. obama brought his chicago mafia. and donald trump has brought his business people 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. and 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 posture to deal with them in more sensible policies? because right now i think putin is running circles around us.
i think that we are awkward and we are 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, because current ones to me don't seem to beworking. 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. dr. albats: then you know. you have such great conversations. there is no need for me to explain the simple things they can do. about thehis comparison between the united states and russia is just -- >> i think you missed my point. that's not what i was saying. i 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 teams with them, too. how many political appointees and washington, d.c. >> around 4000, of which only a handful really account. that's really count. dr. albats: so we're talking about the numbers. i would say probably a hundred times more than we're talking 4000. about people who are trying very hard to control not just decision making sphere in moscow, but all across the country. we're talking about the people who are tempting with the statistical data in the regionsn
in order to influence decision-making in moscow. we're talking about people who deputy governments to with respectents to -- it is just impossible even to compare. either you really don't russia is the way 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. so i'm unable to answer your question. i am sorry. >> do you want to jump in? >> i take your point and all, but we do have competitive elections. let's just say that. and move on to the question that i think is far more important
that you raised 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. inevitably with every new administration coming in, promising to make things better , and inevitably leaving the relationship to its successor in much worse shape than it found it in. i think it is also important to recognize that 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. well the clearly hasn't happened. i think we need to go back to
really rethinking our russia policy. something that in the russian sanctions on russia we have not done. sanctions are not a policy. it's a tool. but we have not really answered the question of what it is we want from russia, what our interests is in russia, around russia, in territories that are currently being contested. and i i think that is the first step, and then the rest will flow from that. ambassador herbst: question over here. >> i have a question for our guest from russia. i'm sure you believe in the future of your country, and i can see you are both great patriots. i wanted to ask when do you think that bert future will come for russia?
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 matter of decades? , 50 years, 100 years? i would love to hear your thoughts. >>this is a matter of decades? a shot? >> me? 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. [laughter] >> that's it. that's all i have to answer for that. i left itystal ball, in my home unfortunately. 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 acute observation and a very good question. i think america isi think amerig slowly to better understanding and better reacting to russia. first 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, of, in moving on some issues like syria or russia. slowly, buthowever america is approaching today 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. 80 -- 98 senators, 98 senators, and almost 400 members of the house. that law, along with previously with previously adopted laws, that is more accurate. it does not speak of russia actually. actually this is misuse of words. the better way is to speak of the 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 which is not only different from russia, but should be taken differently. but interest of this regime, of this corporation, from russia whatever it is, is 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 , nowhere inmewhere syria, where there are no interests for russia, real interests. so -- but the regime is different. so now they started from the magnitsky act legislation, and the list, however you of i wake this list, the list was published just few days, might be two days ago, one day ago, that is much more closer to addressing the regime and dealing with the regime. and finding yourself something about strong and weak points in russia.
heelthat is the achilles' of the regime, of the political class, however defined. the rules, the interests of the --ime was -- simplistically still in russia, spent in the russia people under the kgb legacy so that they sit calm and keep them under , but spend in the west, in democracy, in legal system. if you deprive them from that second part, or threaten them considerably, ability to spend
have their, and in thes and everything western side, on the western side, then you will start addressing western side, the achilles' heel. and that is what is happening. and i hope that on this road heed, not only to bravado like they are playing. take it easy. it is just bravado. but in fact, it never was in the cards for this political class in russia to be sitting calledsmall soviet union putin's russia, or what ever, and that was for the people not , not for them. so that's thegame changer. and
and how they react, there are many ways how they can react. they are powerful, politically powerful, financially powerful. they know each other quite well. there is potential for all kind of tricks, all kind of interpretations, so i feel rather optimistic for america as usual, trying all the wrong approaches, but finally the right one, so i'm probably in the right place. myself. ambassador herbst: we have time for one more question. this gentleman over here. >> riga, latvia. would you explain one
interesting phenomenon. hundreds ofe have tv stations of regular stations. but last parliamentary russian citizens that reside in latvia, 75% of them voted. if you take ethnic russians russian citizensliving and lotn citizens, noncitizens, those deprived of vote even in municipal elections, support of them for putin would go at least 90%. how could you explain that? >> there were two questions together. >> i would like to ask out the russian adventure in syria fits into what you have been .escribing
has the motivation changed? does this add or detract from legitimacy, and has the weakness of u.s. fed an appetite for a new russian adventurism abroad? >> two questions. anyone want to take the first shot daca -- the first shot? the second one, the original russian objective was littered with saving the regime from collapse. russia viewed it another example of u.s. promotion of regime change. saddam hussein, gaddafi. it got more ambitious. the incoherence of the western
policy, it can make deeper policy, it can make deeper inroads. and become one of the arbiters of the future, the direction of syria. loose.t mostly, i don't think it was a mistake. appetite, andssia takes a because it will expand their long-standing u.s. allies with egypt. playing around with the general and libya. they will push on as many open doors. when you do a better job of locking the doors. >> it is to go on an adventure. they have long-standing interest
in the middle east. and they felt they have the necessary interest and really, the opportunity to login and do it they felt was more important. it's not a question of them sort of feeling emboldened, but i think we're dealing with a very different russian foreign policy 2014 or 2012, the return of mr. putin and. acting withn newfound confidence. these are really so to speak. these opportunities come up.
that is the interest, of course. it really was to persuade him to it really was to persuade him to behave. at least more moderately, they have that area. and for the interest of stupidity in the middle east, interest was the very low price of oil which we suffered from. so now we see if they would pay and recount the soviet union being inherited. recount $12 billion at that
worldit would be a dream to go with that for a quarter of that. and to assure that the president, we are old friends. that.at about it did they were mesmerized. , youoked at me and said know, it is, you know, it is unbelievable for 30 years or i don't remember how many, that i am a dictator here. twentysomething. and ite coming to me
it would not be enacted with an with an anecdote. with the estonians, latvia, and moscow. that'se organizations, what we need to do to give a tour and i was able to do that because, for the first time in our was in that former republic of the soviet union. anyway, there was some party afterwards. with somebody saying, good russian, dead russian. i -- i said,t, thank you so much and left the party.
and so, with all due respect, i extend the suffering of estonia as a result of the soviet occupation. thousands, they perish in siberia. being a russian andker in estonia, latvia, you probably noticed that i do. that is my explanation for the the russian population , russian speakers in this -- however,y do , if a search is conducted
he would leave the european union and go back to russia, the answer is no. collapsed in ruble 2014, it turns out that medical insurance in the european union does much better than the one we could get russia. reasons was one of the -- yes. it can't be in russia anymore. i'm sorry. so i think that we should be very careful. value,'t take it at face .ould people are saying
we touched on this question, but that we come to my office is, about the corporation that would be of russian influence and politics, i would say that we should expect this type of foreign policy, which is the same, the active measure operations. very pragmatic. existedferent from what in soviet times. to take out the russian foreign policy. understanding, it is just an active measure that we put in place.
there is so much success, the net effect is stationed in russia. we were looking for something that would go along with that fact. work. it did not i think that be the kind of thing that we should expect. i think that be the kind of thing that we should expect. >> thank you all, panelists, thank you. think all the audience. -- thank all the audience. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> and a look inside trump international hotel an