What Vladimir Soloviev Really Thinks About Russia and America 

What Vladimir Soloviev Really Thinks About Russia and America 

The National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn goes toe-to-toe with the prominent and outspoken Russian talk show host, Vladimir Soloviev. 

JH: I hope not.

VS: Not at all. But I do realize what he did and there are a lot of positives, but the amount of negative was quite huge. But again when you consider like Oliver Cromwell, was he evil or was he a good guy? We have to realize that the Russian civil war really ended only with the great patriotic war. Russia was in turmoil. Where brother was trying to kill brother. We lost ten million people in the civil war. So that’s why it’s extremely difficult just from our perspective to feel like these people felt in this specific time. But at the end of the day, as a Jew, I know that it was Stalin, it was the Russian army that managed to finish awful Nazis and save my people.

JH: Well, we could debate Stalin all day long. Let’s flash forward to the present. Donald Trump is seriously making plans to potentially run for reelection again in 2024 against Joe Biden. Do you have a personal favorite? Would you like to see Trump reelected in 2024?

VS: Honestly I couldn’t care less. From the journalist standpoint, he’s fun. It’s always interesting looking at him, listening to what he has to say. He makes a show all the time. But let’s say, ‘what’s good for mother Russia?’ It doesn’t really matter if it’s Trump or Biden. I do realize that an anti-Russian course is now the mainstream of American politics. So it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Trump, it’s Biden, unfortunately relations between our two countries are not getting better. And if Trump is a sweet talker and Biden is not, it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is, what is important, is what kind of goodies they have in the box for the coming holidays. And definitely, none of the goodies they have are ones we are going to like. The answer is definitely not what we are going to like. I actually used to meet with both Bushes. I met with George Bush back in 1990 and I had an interview with his son back in 2000 something. So I met them both and I spoke with them both, and it was extremely interesting. Well you know it’s extremely interesting to have the chance to interview the president and of course it would be extremely interesting to talk with Donald Trump when he was president or with Mr. Biden. Both of them, they have pros and cons, and if someone is in charge of a country like the United States of America they are definitely very important and it’s definitely a challenge to interview them, to talk to them.

JH: You are on the sanctions list proposed by Alexei Navalny and his associates. Does that bother you at all?

VS: Yes, it does. First of all, it would be the first time in the United States’ history when a journalist is on a sanctions list. Because usually journalists are considered to be part of this great American attitude toward freedom of speech. Second of all, what bothers me is there is no procedure where you can present your point of view. Navalny is a Nazi, he’s well known for his nationalist views, his anti-Semitic views. Whether people in the United States accept it or not, there are lots of facts to prove it.

And I am Jewish, and he has had a beef with me for quite some time. Mainly because I do not accept him as a democratic leader at all. I view him as an anti-Semite, a Nazi, and I remember where he came from. And let me remind you that he was kicked out from what is considered the oldest democratic party because of his nationalistic views. So when someone comes to the Congress with his list based on whatever Navalny thinks of them, that is not the America I used to know. It’s not America that is fighting for what America believes. So it’s all a bit strange. So yes, it does bother me a lot, even though I don’t have any real estate in the United States, but I used to work in the States and lived for a while, and I love the States. My daughter was born in the United States when I worked at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

JH: Given all your extensive experience in the United States, today you’re seen, at minimum, a determined adversary of the United States by your critics and detractors. What accounts for the shift in your views of the United States over the decades.

VS: First of all, I’m not working for the American audience. I don’t have an international show that I hold. I’m a journalist, and on my shows, you have all possible points of view presented. We have severe critics of Russia in my show, from the United States. I had on my show a former Ambassador John Herbst who was in Ukraine, had American citizens many times—and others that quite heavily criticize mother Russia. We have nothing against the American people. Actually, we always remember our mutual history of victory in the Second World War, we have open eyes. But when they say we have anti-American views, that’s not true at all. It just is not there. Of course, I will certainly criticize political moves that are against my country. But it doesn’t mean that I do not respect American history. But it doesn’t mean that I have to be blind to all the minuses of American history as well as all the plusses of American history. It’s an objective view if anyone can be objective. So it’s not a shift. What happened in America is another question. It’s a shift in what America became, if you look at the 1990s compared to the 2010s. Is it the same country?

JH: Today according to opinion polls, Russian youths, or those under thirty, are quite dissatisfied by the current state of affairs in Russia. So what accounts for that?

VS: It’s all over the world. If you talk with American youth you’ll see the same statistic almost. Youth is basically never happy with what is going on. Plus you have to consider the coronavirus and the mood in the world. Can you imagine a year, two years ago, that America will be coming through this turmoil? Can you imagine, let’s say a year ago that there will be something like your election. And the whole world will be looking as Trump was accusing Biden of corruption. And Biden was accusing Trump family of corruption in front of the whole world. They’re both accusing each other, and then you have half the population of the United States saying ‘I don’t believe this election.’ And the other half of the population saying ‘who the hell are you to say this election is not democratic and transparent?’ And then they’re saying ‘You should be banned. We should kick you out of Twitter and Facebook.’ And Trump is saying the election is cooked, and Biden is saying ‘don’t listen to Trump’ but he used to be your President. Half of your population do not believe in their own election, Black Lives Matter is still marching on, and they have a lot of issues. And then you have this January 6, this girl is killed, and you tell the world ‘come on, we have to fight for human rights.’ Great, I love human rights, but what about Afghanistan, do they have human rights? What happened there? What happened with those poor kids that were killed? ‘Oh well sorry that was an awful mistake.’ Really? Is it enough? Are there any sanctions? Come on, be real. We love the United States, but let’s separate when we are talking about American people and the American government.

JH: No one is denying that the United States has severe problems, but on the other hand we don’t have a wave of emigration, especially among the elites as you are experiencing in Russia.

VS: Oh, you want to solve our problems, we saw how you solved problems in Afghanistan for twenty years when you were in charge of Afghanistan. Yes, the country has their problems with our intellectual people, some want to go abroad. Yes, we lost millions after the great October revolution, millions fled the country. Yes, it’s an awful problem, some are looking for a better life. Some are looking for a better education and then coming back. There are a lot of people who emigrated to Israel and now they came back and work in Russia. There are lots of people who went to Germany and got back to Russia. The same in the United States. Things are moving now, they don’t want to stay in one place. It’s perfectly fine, it’s perfectly normal because they are not losing Russian citizenship. They think it will be much better if they work in the States? Fine. I’ve been there, I worked in the United States and then I came back to mother Russia. It’s not a problem, it’s an open world. At least it used to be before COVID. It used to be an open world. And it’s okay if young guys—we are not saying that Russia is perfect—Russia is facing a lot of problems and we realize that. Some people flew out of Russia, a lot of people are trying to get into Russia. Whether it’s good or bad we will see. It’s a very dynamic process.