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. 

VS: Are you kidding me? Now, Jacob, is this question for real?

JH: Sure.

VS: Yeah? Can you tell me at least once when the president of France, president of Russia, president of Germany, or prime minister of Germany would in any form glorify any of Nazi collaborators?

JH: What about the prime minister of Japan?

VS: I don’t care about the prime minister of Japan. They are not bothering right now me. What bothers me is the Ukrainian prime minister and the Ukrainian president. When the Ukrainian president saying it’s okay if Bandera is a hero.

JH: What about the fact that Zelensky’s Jewish?

VS: Well, who cares? He is Jewish, he’s Jewish by what? By blood or by what he has to say? The way he behaves himself is not the Jewish way. He does not respect his grandfather, who fought against the Nazis and Bandera during the Second World War, the Great Patriotic War. Being Jewish by blood is not enough. You have to fight for what you believe, and I feel sorry for Zelensky.

JH: So, do you think that Russian foreign policy is too conciliatory towards Ukraine?

VS: I would say that Russian foreign policy is extremely realistic. I think that we made a big mistake when we accepted this Nazi turmoil in 2014. Because former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was a legitimate president. And that’s why when the opposition signed an agreement with Yanukovych, the Americans accepted it. But then suddenly, when those people from the streets decided to go and kill Yanukovych, Americans changed their point of view in a day. What's her name? Victoria Nuland. Nuland knew exactly who’s going to be president of Ukraine, prime minister of Ukraine, and mayor of Kiev. How fascinating isn’t it?

JH: Do you think she’s that powerful?

VS: Haven’t you heard the phone conversation that became available?

JH: I did.

VS: Do you have any comment on that? Oh, sorry, I forgot you’re the one that's asking questions. Yeah, right. And you'd prefer to say on that.

JH: Well, you know, I don’t want to intrude upon your, upon your views in any way.

VS: Jacob, that’s fine, don’t you worry.

JH: I’m not worried.

VS: Too bad. Emotions never hurt.

JH: What are your views on Russian oligarchs?

VS: I hate oligarchs. I think that we should fight oligarchs in any way we can. I hate oligarchs. I think that Khodorkovsky is not just an oligarch. Well, I do remember a lot of accusations of him being a bloody murderer.

JH: But aren’t oligarchs inevitable in any society?

VS: Well, we have to define what oligarch means. We can live without them.

JH: So, what would you change in Russia to get rid of the oligarchs?

VS: We already did. We don’t have any.

JH: Oh, you already did?

VS: Sure.

JH: You got rid of them all?

VS: No, no. We have extremely rich people, but they cannot interfere in Russian politics, not anymore. Well, there is an attempt of guys like Khodorkovsky and others from abroad to buy some part of Russian opposition, that’s for sure. But inside Russia, you will not find even one rich person who is involved in everyday politics or in everyday political decisions.

JH: With Navalny in jail and the emasculation of opposition parties, doesn’t it concern you that there is no release valve for opposing views or dissent in Russia right now? That it’s becoming more conformist?

VS: Right now, during elections there were fourteen different parties with different views. Why are you concentrated only on Navalny? Do you know the views of his party? Of him personally? The amount of people that support him? You know, when the West is every time talking about Navalny, the question is how come the person who considers himself to be a political leader got involved into, let’s say, business-style activity that led up to a criminal scheme of extortion money from an international company?

JH: Well, let’s put aside Navalny for a second. What about the growing sentiment on the left of Russian society?

VS: That’s fine. It’s always been like this. Russian society has always been extremely leftist. We have had socialist and communist ideas ruling in the country for hundred years.

JH: Do you think the communists will make a comeback?

VS: Not modern-day communists, definitely not, but left ideas, they are definitely extremely popular right now in the whole world. And that’s what America is facing nowadays. That’s what Europe is facing nowadays. And of course, there can be left ideas like Sanders or even more leftish up to the point of being, you know, close to Trotsky's ideas. But probably that’s to Miss [Alexandria Ocasio-] Cortez.

JH: So, there’s a quote that’s floating around from Lenin, I think, in July 1916, where he says there won’t be a revolution in Russia for decades and, of course, the country erupts. Do you expect to see another uprising in your lifetime?

VS: Well, in what country?

JH:  In Russia.

VS: You know, who am I to make predictions like that? I would say that I would never imagine that there would be an uprising like the BLM uprising in the United States. I could never imagine that the United States will be facing all the turmoil that they’re facing right now. I could never imagine that there will be sanctions against journalists. I could never imagine that America suddenly not would only decide to become extremely anti-Russian but up to the point of putting sanctions on the Russian prime minister. That basically can be considered, as you know, the act of war. I could never imagine that in the American legal system, the American government, the American Congress will pass a law, and consider Russia to be almost an enemy—adversary, definitely. I could never imagine that.

You are talking about Navalny, but what about those people that believe in Trump's ideas? You are talking about political prisoners, but what happened with those guys that came to the Capitol on January 6? Who are they? Domestic Taliban? They are terrorists, they are freedom fighters, they are political opponents. Why has America become so turbulent? With all his past criminal activity, of course, it was awful death, and nothing can justify that. But how come that young American woman Ashli Babbitt was killed in Capitol, and she was unarmed? Was it necessary to kill her?

JH: We can catalogue the deficiencies of the United States all day, but I have a somewhat related question.

VS: Sure, of course.

JH: The U.S. has been, has had warm and frosty relations with Russia over the past century and in this century, but one thing that’s been constant, the U.S. was quite powerful both at home and abroad. Is the only thing that would be more dangerous for Russia today than a strong America is something new, a weak America?

VS: Absolutely, and I made this point on my show many times. That’s the worst scenario that can happen to Russia—a weak America, America in turmoil. It’s definitely against Russian national interests, of course. Stated it many times. That’s why my show is so popular in Russia because we have different points of view, and everyone has a right to express his opinion. Whether he likes Russia, he hates Russia—welcome, speak openly. On my show, it’s a chance. But well, after, you know, if those sanctions will be implemented, probably some Americans will be scared to come to the show of the person who is on the American sanctions list.

JH: Even if we didn't solve the Pandora Papers, maybe we opened up a Pandora’s box of questions here.

VS: But I’d love to see all those documents, you know? I think that what they should do, those investigative journalists, as they call them, they should publish all those papers. They should give free access to everyone who is interested in them. I think that would be the right way. And, of course, if there’s wrongdoing, people who are involved in the criminal activity have to be punished. It doesn’t matter what their political position is—it doesn’t matter how influential they are.

JH: Thank you for the interview.

Jacob Heilbrunn is the editor of the National Interest

Image: Wikimedia Commons