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: Related to this, there’s a big story in the Washington Post that’s now circulating around the world, around the Pandora Papers which suggest that many in the Russian elite are investing in the West at the same time that they decry it as decadent. Why?

VS: Why decadent? We do not consider the West to be decadent. We see forces in the West that may be, but we see lots of traditionalistic movements that are not decadent at all. Russia has always been extremely open-minded, Russians used to buy a lot in France. It’s perfectly normal. We never expected that America suddenly becomes so anti-Russian. We were the first ones that called President Bush and offered our help to fight terrorism. After this awful tragedy of 9/11, Putin was the first to call. We were always eager to help, to fight hand in hand against international terrorism. But at the same time as you call them ‘rebels’ in Chechnya? Right.

 

JH: Well there’s a long list of grievances on both sides.

VS: But none from us. We don’t have a problem. We have zero problems with the United States. You have problems with us. We are just saying, it’s your life, you live it your way, it’s up to your people, your election, it’s your headache. Nowadays, we have sanctions against Russia for interfering in your elections.

JH: But why do we keep getting hit by hacking assaults from Russia?

VS: Do I know? Who told you they’re from Russia? What makes you think they’re coming from Russia. Let me remind you, that your political leaders, many times state that Russia is not more than just a gas station, the Russian economy is ruined, Russia is on the wrong side of history, Russia has nothing but gas or oil. According to what you just told me, all the smart guys from Russia already left Russia—are already living in the United States. How come we are so stupid that we cannot keep our own youth in Russia, but are still managing to hack the greatest, the best, the most progressive country in the world, as portrayed by your media.

So it’s either/or. Either we have those abilities or we don’t have them. If you consider us to be that smart, we are not hitting you. Even Trump didn’t believe that, he’d say maybe it’s a 300-pound guy on his couch that is hacking. What makes you think all these hacking attacks are coming from Russia. During the Russian elections, how many attacks came from the territory of the United States to Russian election systems?

JH: It looks to me like you had your election system in pretty good order.

VS: Yes, our election system is in pretty good order.

JH: Very good order.

VS: Yes, because we are extremely progressive. We have cameras, video 24/7. No problem.

JH: Let’s be honest, from our perspective the opposition was shut out from the beginning.

VS: What opposition?

JH: Well that’s a good question.

VS: From our perspective, just live by the book, live by the law. If you go by the law, you don’t have any problems. If you don’t go by the law, you don’t have any problems. That’s the question. Either you accept Russian law or you don’t. If you are a Russian citizen, you can’t accept the American view on Russian law. You have to live by the book. Let’s say you call opposition Mr. Navalny—sorry, but he, you have to admit he’s a criminal whether you like him or not. According to the Russian judicial system, he has a sentence, not for his political activity, but for his criminal activity. For fraud with a French company. It has nothing to do with politics. You may believe it, you may not believe it. You can’t just ignore Russian systems, that’s not right. From the Russian point of view, what happened with your election is extremely, let’s say, unusual. With the amount of votes by post.

JH: What’s wrong with the postal system?

VS: Come on, it’s the twenty-first century, postal office? When you have people that voted that were born in 1852? 160-year-old guys. It’s not Russian propaganda. Your political leaders, they are not happy with your election system. It’s not my point of view, it’s the point of view of let’s say thirty percent of Americans. That they are not happy.

JH: What about the Pandora Papers, do you take them seriously?

VS: What have you seen?

JH: I’ve seen what I’ve read.

VS: But that’s different, have you seen the actual papers, have you seen documents?

JH: I have seen excerpts, I have not seen the original papers, no.

VS: Exactly. Here’s a question for you, can you take those papers to an American court?

JH: I don’t know, I’m curious what your view is.

VS: I’ll explain my view. But can you take them to an American court? At the moment, when you take them to the American court, there will be a question—how did you get them? How did you get them? Can they be considered as valid evidence in court?

JH: Well, there’s always a court of opinion as well, which is where I think they’re more significant.

VS: Well, well, well. You know, let me remind you that there is a person named Julian Assange, who is now being prosecuted for a much more important deed than the one that we see with so-called Pandora Papers. Twelve million documents—cool. Can we see them? Can we get that basis? Can we see them? Tell me, where is the wrongdoing on Pandora Papers? If there is wrongdoing, pass it to the criminal system, to the justice system. France, Hungary, Britain, Ukraine, Russia, United States. Let them prosecute. Let them investigate. It’s extremely important. Are they whistleblowers? Cool, let’s do it.

How come that all these transactions nowadays are easily investigated by the American authorities? They can see every single dollar floating. How come that they do not stop them? Is it criminal, or is it legal? Pandora Papers, by whom? By George Soros and his guys? Fine. But tell me, what happened with a couple of big companies that definitely should be there? Let’s say we can see accounts of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. What about Americans? What about the renowned political leaders of the United States of America? How come there are no members of their families? How come there is a so-called company Burisma in Ukraine that used to deal through those offshore companies? Where are they?

JH: I thought I was asking the questions here. I have one for you on Ukraine.

VS: Well, come on. You know, it’s not that, Jacob. You know, don’t, don’t fight yourself. You know you can. You can answer my questions.

JH: I try not to fight myself on Ukraine.

VS: No, no, no. Wait, wait, wait. Tell me why so? Isn’t it fun just to communicate, to be in a dialogue, to look through? Well, where it’s so damn easy. If that money has been stolen from people of Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, whatever, if it’s criminal activity, give it back to the people of those countries.

JH: Well, they are investigating in some areas.

VS: Like what? Like after Panama Papers?

JH: In the Czech Republic. We’ll see what happens.

VS: Well, the guy already made the point that, you know, I used to be at this time, I used just to be a businessman. It’s perfectly legit.

JH: We’ll see.

VS: What happened after the Panama Papers?

JH: Very little.

VS: Exactly.

JH: But it was a public relations fiasco.

VS: It’s all public relations fiasco when the system is not transparent. It’s all a fiasco when it cannot go by the book, if you know exactly that there is a criminal activity—fight it, fight it. It’s so damn easy nowadays. All money is transferred from one point to another. Easy to trace. Give the money back to the people if you think that they were stolen from people. But which banks are profiting from having this money? Banks in the United Kingdom, banks in the United States, or banks in Russia?

JH: Would you like to incorporate all of Ukraine into Russia?

VS: Not my choice. It’s a choice of the Ukrainian people, what they like, how they see. It’s their choice like what happened with Crimea. Back in 2013, I mentioned that we will not fight for Crimea, and we never fought for Crimea. It was the free choice of people who lived in Crimea. They wanted to come back to Russia. But every time when we talk about Ukraine, you know, it’s an extremely hard topic as far as I’m concerned because my family suffered a lot from Stepan Bandera. His followers killed six members of my family. They buried them alive during the Second World War just because they were Jews. And when now I see Nazis in Ukraine?

JH: But is it any worse in Ukraine than it is in France, Russia, Germany?