Russian music critic and journalist Artemy Troitsky gave an interview to the Finnish publishing house, Into Kustannus, which publishes the Finnish edition of Novaya Gazeta. Speaking on the eve of renewed pro-democracy demonstrations planned for 24 December 2011, Mr Troitsky spoke about the change in the Russian people’s protest mentality, the dismal state of the country’s political party system, and the impending collapse of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Below, an edited transcript of Mr Troitsky’s comments.
The real change that has happened in Russia is that Putin’s voodoo is gone. The country was hypnotised for ten years by this man, but is no longer. The situation has started to unravel very rapidly. I think it will be like with the Communist Party in the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s: Putin’s regime will just come to a very quick end, because it was all built on lies, theft, and corruption, and nothing else.Before, maybe everyone was happy about it, maybe everyone was afraid that they would be punished if they said something, but now the fear is more or less gone. Everyone seems to be very frustrated about what is going on in the country. My big question is: why could not this have happened much earlier? I was doing the same stuff and saying the same thing for many years. For some reason, before, it was all falling on deaf ears, and now suddenly everyone is very brave, everyone understands everything, and everyone is enthusiastic and revolutionary. It is very nice, I really like it, even if it is a trend, even if it is a fashion. There is definitely something fashionable in it for the young people especially. But I think it is a very good fashion. The good thing about this popular opposition is that it is not really political. Russia’s political opposition is very doubtful. We have the parliamentary opposition like the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Just Russia party, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party, which of course are not opposition parties at all. Formally, they are in opposition. I do not trust any of those parties. Even Yabloko, [the liberal opposition party], I do not trust them at all. Then we have the so-called radical opposition, people like [liberal opposition leaders] Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov, and [Other Russia leader] Eduard Limonov, and so on. I do not like them, and I do not trust them also. I can tell you honestly that I really do not give a shit about Russian political parties, I do not give a shit about the Russian parliament. I think that these institutions of so-called democracy, they may begin to work in this country, maybe, but not in my lifetime. Because all the political parties that we have here in Russia, they are all like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with different agendas. None of those parties are really interesting, none of those parties are really convincing; they all see their activities as a way to make money and to make careers, that is all. I do not know any acting politician in this country whom I personally trust. Not a single one. I place my belief in the people, in the civil society, but not in the political party system. The thing is that this whole popular movement grew from below. It has nothing to do with political parties or political organisations; people just want change. I think this is a very common feeling in Russia. Everyone is very frustrated at the kind of country Russia has become under Putin. Everyone understands that the theft and corruption is just terrible, and people live much worse now. People just hate all those lies surrounding them. Before, maybe people were afraid; now it is like the spell is gone. People suddenly started to think that we are free to say what we want. And they do it and they have fun doing it. This is very important. We shall see what happens at the demonstration on 24 December 2011. I am sure that it will be a big party. Also, I am sure that all that talk that there will be violence, rivers of blood, is just panic and very exaggerated. Even the police in this couyntry is fed up with what is going on. I am absolutely sure that unless they will send Chechen police to tame the demonstrators, I am sure it will be okay, because when normal Russian police see not hundreds but tens of thousands of people, police will not turn their arms against them. They have two divisions of Chechen police in Moscow and just outside of Moscow; these people would be really thrilled with killing Muscovites. These people are loyal to [Chechen dictator Ramzan] Kadyrov and they are real killers. Unlike Russian policemen, they would just be very happy to shed as much Russian blood as possible because they hate Russians. The situation [regarding how Putin’s regime will unravel] is very uncertain. It could be anything. The most logical thing would be that putin stepped down, but got guarantees of security. He would take his girlfriend and escape to Sardinia and live there alongside [former Italian prime minister Silvio] Berlusconi, enjoy his billions and his family life. Someone who would be Putin’s successor, maybe someone like [billionaire businessman Mikhail] Prokhorov or [former finance minister Alexey] Kudrin would guarantee that Putin was not put in jail for everything that he has done. (It definitely will not be [outgoing Russian president Dmitry] Medvedev, because he is finished.) This would be the best case scenario for Putin. The worst case scenario would be violence. I am sure Putin will be swept away soon, but in which way it will happen, I have no idea. I personally am in favour of a more radical scenario. I realy would like that somone like [anti-corruption fighter Alexey] Navalny became president. He has a real chance to become the new people’s leader. But most likely there will be some kind of compromise. I just hope that Putin will not be stupid enough to go for elections, because of course then he would be elected, there would be terrible election violations, and then we really could see bloodshed.