An interview with Dmitri Rogozin

Dmitri Rogozin, former leader of the Motherland party: “I regard it as my purpose in life to remedy the tragedy of 1991. I’m a realist – I understand that the Soviet Union cannot be restored. But at least we can assemble a united Slavic state in the form of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Question: As you return to politics, what are you bringing with you?

Dmitri Rogozin: I never really left. Anyone might find it useful to take a break occasionally – to draw a breath, gather your thoughts, get rid of what you no longer need, add something new. Actually, I spent a couple of months writing a book. I think it will be important as we approach the 2007-08 boundary. It’s somewhat autobiographical. It sets out objectives for those whom I consider my supporters.

Question: From the outside, it looked like you took offense at the mini-coup in the Motherland (Rodina) party, and quit.

Dmitri Rogozin: A situation has taken shape in which it seems almost impossible to engage in normal political activity, or any kind of public activity, while remaining an independent person. You can either flee to United Russia, or remain who you are. One touch of a lighted match sets off powder-kegs of violence among thousands of people in cities far from Russia’s heated South. So something is rotten in Denmark. I’d like to protect my country from outbreaks of violence. I think I can be useful in areas where real public life is still alive. In the Duma, it has died. In the presidential administration, people live through virtual images, creating chimeras and semi-plans. The president is most often seen on television, alas – it’s the instrument he uses to run the country. But real people live in a slightly different world. And I treat them with respect, not just as an electorate of disposable people. I hope the respect is mutual.

Question: Aren’t you upset about being displaced from Motherland so easily?

Dmitri Rogozin: The folly of my persecutors lies in the fact that Motherland’s electorate won’t disappear. It will move somewhere else, in another direction. Perhaps into radical nationalist organizations that will beat up random strangers in the streets, and eventually go after those who plotted all kinds of intrigues, including myself. Or the older generation might vote for the Communists, as they did in Moscow. The Communists got a very good result in the Moscow city legislature after we were disqualified, because a third of our voters ended up voting for them.

Question: And what do you think of Motherland’s merger with the Russian Party of Life (RPL) and the Russian Party of Pensioners?

Dmitri Rogozin: I’m just an ordinary rank-and-file soldier in the party, with membership card No. 00001. Love matches are forbidden in the political arena these days. There are only marriages of convenience, or fictitious marriages made for the sake of obtaining various bonuses in the form of the right to be represented in the Duma – or at least not being destroyed along the way. Since I’m now in no position to protect the party by means of direct contact with the president, Motherland needs someone who can do that. Sergei Mironov is noted for loving the president deeply. He’s sincere in this – unlike many of those who now surround Vladimir Putin. Besides, I have nothing bad to say about Sergei Mironov. He loves animals, and loves people as well. So I think the optimal scenario for Motherland would be to invite Mironov into our party, as a kind of safeguard to prevent Motherland being disqualified in future elections. To be honest, however, looking at what’s happened to the RPL itself in Yekaterinburg, the way it’s been disqualified there – it’s an indication that Mironov’s powers as a defender are limited, and that he has equally influential opponents in the presidential administration, who are plotting dirty intrigues against the young RPL.

Question: Are you working on a new political project?

Dmitri Rogozin: We’re setting up the Russian Research Center. Its goal is to study the complex national issues we encounter in Russia’s domestic politics and foreign policy, to study the Russian question, and to defend the Russian people, which makes up the foundation of the state. The Center will not use political organization methods. It will use human rights defense methods, and work via the expert community. It will have representatives in countries where we believe there is a constant threat to the normal development of the Russian nation: the Baltic states, Ukraine, perhaps some Central Asian countries where we are permitted to pursue normal research.

Question: This sounds a bit like the Congress of Russian Communities. Are you repeating yourself?

Dmitri Rogozin: Not at all. This is different. And there’s also an initiative from citizens of Ukraine and Russia who consider that relations between our countries have reached their lowest point. Therefore, cultivating a new Slavic understanding between brothers and sisters in Lesser Russia and Greater Russia seems an extremely promising cause. I regard it as my purpose in life to remedy the tragedy of 1991. I’m a realist – I understand that the Soviet Union cannot be restored. But at least we can assemble a united Slavic state in the form of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. And along the way, we can resolve many problems which are causing concern among the younger generation in all three countries: dual citizenship, transparent borders, free movement of labor and capital.

Question: Against the backdrop of recent events in Karelia, your words sound somewhat provocative. On the other hand, your latest speech in the Duma was so balanced – barely recognizable as Rogozin.

Dmitri Rogozin: I said that the recent tragic events in Karelia, the Chita region, and the Rostov region are evidence that ethnic crime is completely out of control. That’s why I have proposed inviting Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to address the Duma. He should inform us of the measures being taken by the Interior Ministry to root out treason from the ranks of police officers who cooperate with ethnic crime groups and stand by silently when blood is being shed. He should report to the Duma on what is being done to fight the ethnic mafia and drug mafia.