The outcome of the next meeting of the international discussion club “Valdai” became accusations of Western media about Vladimir Putin. This time they agreed on the fact that the Russian President “fueling the cold war.” Pardon the oxymoron, but I have no idea. In fact, the “Valdai” was conceived in 2004 to foreign politicians and experts can learn more about Russia to understand it. For 13 years the forum has changed:it is held not in Valdai (this time it took Sochi), and the conversation there is a broader topic than a Russian nesting doll. But many hours of discussion the President of Russia with the guests lead mainly to one thing: his words are taken with the camera, pulled out of context, with further comments “exactly the opposite”, and now the Western viewer has conclusive proof that Russia is the axis of evil. Does Russia need “Valdai” in this situation, and in this format? This “MK” asked a permanent member of this debating club, President of the Washington Center on Global Interests Nikolai ZLOBIN.
— “Valdai” it is necessary not only Russia, but all over the world. When going to this level of experts and politicians from different countries is an event. Forums of such scale in the world especially then and there. Such international discussion clubs should be more, but only Russia bears this burden: for 13 years “Valdai” has grown and evolved from just an annual meeting into a full-fledged authoritative international research Institute. Between the annual meetings regularly held conferences and published reports, which are prepared and studied by reputable scientists.
Today, the world of the ruling elite, the global political class are at an intellectual impasse, I would even say intellectual impotence, and “Valdai” — the place where you can break through old stereotypes, cliches, using polovikova vision of the world and find some way out of the deadlocks. We just can’t break free from the schemes of the cold war, but “Valdai” helps to pave the way for it. The Chinese, as far as I know, I want to create a similar forum, and Kazakhstan is trying to do something in this direction. Well, if possible. And the Americans are claiming to be the “center of the Universe”, not even trying to hold a forum, similar to the “Valday”. Therefore, the Russian experience remains unique.
We see that Putin, as a political figure, from the “Valdai” while only suffering. After each forum, on which he stands, he becomes a “Prince on a white horse”, and the object of aggressive criticism by foreign media. Why would he do that?
— Yes, every “Valdai” criticized his policies. But, as I understand it, he asks the critical attitude and its rate. He needs objective information: what do you think about him and the Russian authorities. If the Parliament is silent, then, Shakespeare has something to say independent and foreign experts. Therefore, Putin spends so much time with the “Valdai” — and formal meetings, and informal. Every time we meet and he asks guests to speak more, to give criticism. And I must say that he is very tolerant of criticism. In my opinion, there was not one meeting when I have it not “runs,” and he always listened and recorded what was said. Putin’s tenacious mind, and if he sees a problem, he clings to her. I have repeatedly observed how he received the advice or the rebuke is taken as suggested by the problem and tries to solve it. He never got irritated because of the criticism on the “Valdai” was heard even to the unjust, and there were such moments.
The atmosphere on this forum is certainly not complimentary. Primarily, this club has a very critical attitude to the Russian authorities. Many foreigners come then just to “stick a pin”.
— If Putin is so respected and even welcomed criticism on the “Valdai”, why is it almost no within the country, in Parliament?
— I think that’s why “Valdai” and stands out. Criticism of the “Valdai”, usually behind the scenes, she goes too far and remains in the minds of the expert community. It often sounds from foreign experts and foreign media, which national media may not notice.
I feel that Putin sometimes you want to have at least some challenge. Even if from abroad, because in his native country all his lick and peck, relatively speaking. And reality check “Valdai”, I think he likes. But the problem is that the “Valdai” was over, everyone left, and criticism is immediately ended.
— What events in this forum you seemed the brightest?
— If to speak about Putin, where he especially wanted to be and didn’t want to leave. The moderators tried to stop the discussion, Mr Putin said: “No, let’s have three more questions”, then still a few questions and remarks. That is a request for fresh ideas he has, he wanted to hear more. And there was a desire to say something meaningful. I even thought to myself that Putin is turning into a deep political philosopher, without losing the skill of the worker that acts on the situation. What’s important. He started to talk about a new world order reform of international institutions in political terms that officials usually do not know. Because officials must demonstrate not only the horizons, and their ability to accept daily bureaucratic decisions. That is, Putin showed the participants of the “Valdai” the big picture of the world as he sees it, not the basics of “manual control”. This, incidentally, also attracted criticism in his address. Usually Putin speaks very specifically about specific issues, and on the “Valdai” walked away from it.
I was surprised by his calls for change, a departure from the “conservative stability”. It was the calls for changes not only in foreign policy but also domestic. Earlier Putin was not ready to “internal changes”, I can say for sure, and now he’s ready for strategic change. Or perhaps Putin is throwing some theses of his election program in 2018, and studied the reaction on them. Of course, on the “Valdai” this reaction test is easier because there is not an electoral contingent, and those who can tell the truth. Anyway, on the “Valdai” we saw a new Putin.