Democratic Russia a condition for world peace

Andre Glucksmann:

” The necessity for Russia to become  democratic is a condition for world peace”

Andre Glucksmann is one of the most famous philosophers of the contemporary Europe. He is representative of the “nouvelle philosophie”. He was one of the leaders of the student revolution in France of 1968. With the course of time, he as well as many of his friends gave up their leftist ideology that they adhered in their youth. From the very beginning of the war in Chechnya, Andre Glucksmann has been one of the most active advocates of reconciliation of the conflict by political means.

In March 2000 Glucksmann signed the Letter «Horror is Roaming Europe » published in Le Monde. It condemned the operations of the Russian federal forces in Chechnya. This Letter became a peculiar ideological basis for the position that the PACE took on Chechnya. It became the result of a five-week journey to Chechnya and Dagestan that Andre Glucksmann had made. He went there through Azerbaijan under forged documents. Andre Glucksmann explained it by a refusal of the Russian embassy to grant him an entry visa, “Russian embassy in France denied me a visa to Moscow. Thus, I am prohibited from going to Russia. This new way of setting up “black lists” is dishonourable for the embassy and very honourable for myself, but I find this to be a dangerous precedent established in relations between Russia and the West. The setting up of black lists of intellectuals is an old KGB method which is difficult to accept, and I am partly glad to have returned the favour to Russian authorities by spending without their authorization more than a month on a territory that they claim to control”. By 2007 that precedent has become a legal norm as President Putin signed the restrictive law on entry to Russia. Andre Glucksmann has organized many anti-war protest actions of European intellectuals. Six years after the Letter in Le Monde, in March 2006, Glucksmann signed another Open Letter “End the Silence over Chechnya” together with Vaclav Havel, Prince Hassan bin Talal, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Mary Robinson, Yohei Sasakawa, Karel Schwarzenberg, George Soros and Desmond Tutu. It was timed to the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg. However, big politicians failed to break their silence…

Andre Glucksmann answered the questions of the editor of the Russian-Chechen Information Agency.

Why have the hopes for democracy and freedom in Russia that came with the fall of communism 15 years ago been so cruelly disappointed?

I had quite an experience of struggle for freedom in Russia. I supported some dissidents – Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov; I used to be forbidden in the Soviet Union and therefore I didn’t come to Moscow until 1990. My dissident friends had warned me that tension was increasing then in the country. And the situation in the Central Europe confirmed their words. Since the demolishing of The Wall and the breakdown of the Soviet Empire there were two possible ways of development. Václav Havel symbolized the difficult way of democracy and Milošević chose to unite the repression machinery, the remains of nomenklatura, Secret Service, most part of army, etc. So the experience we had in the Central Europe gave us an alternative  – Václav Havel accepted that Czechoslovakia breaks down, and there are now two separate states that have never been at war, they are both democratic and European Union members – Slovakia and Czech Republic. Milošević did quite the reverse – carried out a policy of force and ethnic clarification. As Yeltsin declared the first Chechen War, I feared that it was administration in the style of Milošević that would predominate. Of course, I was against the war in Chechnya, I applauded the peace that followed there and unfortunately Putin accentuated this authoritarianism by canceling civil liberties, hardly-acquired by dissidents over many decades of struggle.

Does democracy have a future in Russia and is there any peculiar special path for democracy in Russia to develop?

The path the less special and the most commonly used is freedom of expression, freedom of communication, democracy in the mass-media, and it has been true since the ancient Athens in the days of Socrates, it remains true. For democracy to be established, free public opinion must develop and there must be possibility for open discussion and for political alternation of parties that have different opinions.

How can international democrats influence the behavior of a government bent on suppressing basic freedoms?

I consider Mr. Putin a reasonable man and when he meets persons and governments asserting firmly human rights and democracy or independency of nations, well, he is able to understand that for maintaining correctly economic and diplomatic relations it’s necessary to accept some reproaches.  He may reproach other countries in his turn and he never loses an opportunity to do this. So, an international pressure may exist, provided that common people all over the world realize the necessity for Russia to become democratic, it’s a condition for world peace.

Why has Chechnya been so totally ignored by the international community and what can be done to bring the conflict under control and to prevent its further spreading throughout the Northern Caucasus?

The international community is not aware of the local situations. And it hasn’t noticed that Chechnya was not a fight against terrorism but a war, a conflict that has been continuing since Peter the Great and that its purpose was not to take possession of a colony but to give a lesson to the Russian people. It’s the truth, that already czar Nicholas I had been spoken about general operations in Chechnya and in the Caucasus. The Chechen people is a destructive example of disobedience in Kremlin’s opinion, whether a tsarist Kremlin, or a Bolshevik, or actual one. However, I think that a pacific solution could save not only the remains of the Chechen population, but also the democracy in Russia. And that’s why the international opinion should act to stop repressions in Chechnya and to make the Russian government recommence the negotiations and cease fire, both parties acting honestly.   

The problem of Mr. Dmitrievsky. I believe that it’s extremely important for the Russia’s future to give the pacific people an opportunity to promote understanding. They could, for instance, be intermediaries communicating plans for peace settlement between the warring groups. I heard that the organization had been condemned for publishing an interview of Mr. Mashadov who, before he was murdered, had been President of the independent Chechen government. I find it dangerous, very dangerous for the civil liberties and I think, I ought to let you know that I discussed the Mashadov’s plan with Mr. De Villepin, our then Foreign Minister, and we had no intention to promote any terrorists. Just the contrary, we intended to find a peaceful solution to stop the spread of the Chechen war in the Caucasus. Thus, I think that the information is essential to prevent the ongoing conflicts from extending and toughening. The free information.     

Michael Gindinson talked over phone.

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