KUCHINS: Good morning and welcome to the Carnegie Endowment.
My name is Andrew Kuchins and I director of the Russian and Eurasian
Program here at the Carnegie Endowment. I want to welcome first
of all Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky to Washington. By way of
an introduction, in December 1993 Grigory Alexeyevich was elected
deputy to the Duma of the Russian Federation, and has served as
Yabloko's head for the past eight years. I think we all know that
Grigory Alexeyevich has been at the forefront of the barricades
in Russian politics, consistently, intelligently and passionately
defending Russian democracy, promoting economic reform, fighting
for Russia's nascent civil society and free media, criticizing
human rights abuses and incompetence in two wars in Chechnya,
and a myriad of other issues which I don't have time to enumerate
this morning since we've come here to listen to Mr. Yavlinsky
and not myself. And while Mr. Yavlinsky strongly endorses Russia's
improved relationship with the United States, he has certainly
not been shy about criticizing deficiencies in US policy towards
Russia over the past 10 years.
Please join me in welcoming one of Russia's leading political
figures, and certainly its leading democrat, with a small "d,"
Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky.
YAVLINSKY: Thank you very much for these wonderful words.
I really feel very privileged to be here to have a chance to speak
to the audience live -- the audience of Carnegie. It is not the
first time, but it is always very important for me and my friends
in Russia to have a chance to express our views on the most important
issues of Russian and world politics.
Today I am going to share with you some ideas which are in my
opinion on the list of the most important problems and challenges
for Russia and the United States in current developments and at
the beginning of the 21st century.
I would like to start by referring to the feeling we had not
so long ago, about six months ago, last summer, when Russian democratic
forces and Russian democratic movement perceived that they would
have to prepare for a very difficult and protracted fight to protect
basic principles. There was no window of hope six months ago.
You know about developments in the media in Russia at the time
- it was a very painful situation in the Northern Caucasus. In
foreign policy, there were the visits of the leader of North Korea,
visits to Fidel Castro, discussions with Iraqi and Iranian leaders
on a constant basis. So we felt at that time that we must be prepared,
and that there is no hope that, after 10 years of attempts to
support Russian reform, the Western countries would be deeply
committed to our democratic processes.
However, everything changed after 11 September. I want to say
openly that this was certainly a tragedy, and I want once again
to express my own sincere condolences and those of my colleagues
to the American people, and to say that this was a tragedy that
was totally unjustifiable. But in Russia we were very surprised
by the reaction of our president to this event.
The choice made by Putin in September went against the views
and position of most of Russia's political elite. I was present
at a special meeting, when the president invited leading politicians
of the country to discuss the position of Russia in this dramatic
situation: 21 people were present - leaders of the Duma factions
and also representatives from the Upper Chamber. The president
raised the following question: in your opinion what position should
Russia take in this situation? And I want to say that of the 21
people seated around the table, one individual recommended support
for the Taliban, while only two advocated unconditional support
for the anti-terrorist coalition. All the other individuals present
argued that Russia should maintain its neutrality.
At the end of this meeting, the president declared his own point
of view: unconditional support for the anti-terrorist operation.
So it should be stressed that Putin took this decision on his
own, with the very good understanding that at that moment he would
not receive support from most of the political forces. The situation
subsequently changed, as most of our political forces always choose
to back the president. In a sense this was a good sign, but at
that moment, this was a very special step.
Why was the Russian president prepared to take such a decision?
Certainly there were tactical reasons. We had serious problems
with the terrorist forces in Afghanistan who were linked with
the same kind of forces in Russia, especially in the Northern
Caucasus. You may not remember, but last year the Russian Security
Council even issued a statement, declaring Russia's readiness
for military operations in Afghanistan: to bomb the terrorist
So Putin had tactical reasons for making this decision. It may
be the first time in our history when Russia was able diplomatically,
thanks to the great steps of our president, to exploit the potential
of other countries to resolve some of our important and very painful
problems. But I think that this was not only a tactical choice.
Subsequent developments and positions of the Russian president
indicated that there was and is a strategic approach to this cooperation.
What does strategy mean in this sense? Strategy in relations between
Russia and the West implies a new quality to those relations.
First of all, I want to explain, if we are talking about the
new quality, how we in Russia feel about the West's perception
of Russia today and over the past 5-10 years. The West does indeed
see Russia as a country which can be an ally in security issues:
however, we also clearly perceive that the West sees Russia as
an ally that must be contained and controlled This is the view
on Russia created in the 18th century when Russian forces and
the Russian military potential were used to consolidate the security
of European countries: at the same time, everybody was keen to
contain and control the country.
In the United States, both administrations - Democrats or Republicans
- regard Russia as a country from a different world. It is very
apparent that they think that Russia can be an amicable country,
but also an enemy, depending on the situation. One of the most
important lessons from the past 10 years concerned the approach,
which was never certainly explicitly stated, that leading politicians
of Western countries, including the United States, never held
any hopes for the country. They staked their hopes only on groups
in power. This is very important, as everything is based on personal
relations under such an approach. If the group is collapsing,
then the relations with Russia, political relations, are unfounded.
This is disappointing and provides a signal for criticizing and
This is a very important point as the current approach - where
Western leaders consider the man in the Kremlin to be the man
that they can establish friends with, on the basis that the individual
is strong enough to control all the Russian people and it is necessary
to maintain extremely good personal relations and support this
individual in the hope that he and his team are the only ones
to keep Russia on track with democratic reforms - was very well
known even before then. The same relations were established with
Gorbachev, with Yeltsin, even with the previous leaders that also
represented a very important component of the relations. And Western
leaders often interpret such circumstances - from time to time,
when Russia is trying to give a hand and express its will for
cooperation - as a sign of Russia's weakness.
Between our two big countries inertia, distrust and even fear
are the underlying features over the past centuries. This can
be stated differently, but almost all major policy-makers tend
to perceive the relations between our two countries in this way.
What does this mean in the circumstances for possibilities for
strategic co-operation? I would put it as follows: how can Russia
understand the role that it needs to play to achieve a new quality
of relations with the West - with Europe and the United States?
Certainly, when talking about this approach for Russia, a key
role is played by its domestic politics. Stable relations with
the West is possible if, and only if Russia has an ongoing process
on - I would put it this way - sharing common values which are
non-negotiable. I am not going to repeat all those things. This
is about freedom, free speech, democracy and other extremely important
basic issues for such a time.
If you speak about the current political situation in Russia,
I can draw up a list of the issues on which my party and are very
critical and what we see as the most important direction: what
Russia should do but is not doing. First of all, there is the
problem of the media and freedom of speech. Secondly, the dependence
of Russia's legal system; exploiting this legal system for political
purposes. Thirdly, electoral manipulation at all levels. If you
speak about the economy - and to put it briefly, this is a system
where the only possibility of doing serious business or even unserious
business, is related to the authorities. This is the oligarchic
system where business is only possible if you have special relations
with the authorities, irrespective of whether this is a cottage
industry or national business.
In all these directions, Russia in terms of internal policy has
serious problems, and we are ready to criticize domestic policy
very strongly, as one of the final goals of such policies is to
create a so-called manageable democracy in Russia, or quasi-democracy
similar to the Potemkin village. Russia is very experienced in
making Potemkin villages.
And this is certainly a new threat, as the previous democratic
procedures formally exist, but public opinion is controlled and
manipulated, and a small group of people around the administration
are attempting for their own economic and political interests
to manipulate the whole country, in particular by exploiting the
potential of electronic media. This represents a new challenge.
This challenge is an attempt to manipulate the people's choice.
So these are the tasks facing Russia: we clearly see and understand
them. But there are some important issues for Western countries
as well: recognition by the West of the new quality of the relations
between Russia and the West implies, first of all, an acceptance
and recognition of Russian geostrategic interests, an acceptance
and comprehension of the fact that Russia has the longest borders
with the most unstable regions in the world. Consequently Russia
considers the security of its borders as a priority today in the
Secondly, it is crystal clear that Russia is part of Europe.
There should be a clear message that the West expects Russia to
become a fully-fledged member of all major world and European
political, economic and security institutions in 20-25 years from
today and will include Russia in the system of balances in relations
between the United States and Europe.
It is also very important to create a new quality of relations
from the point of view of the problems that we perceive in the
West at present. For example, regarding the vital interests of
the United States, cooperation with Russia would certainly have
an impact on such sensitive issues as OPEC's current monopoly
on the problem of oil. The real serious cooperation with Russia
is a way of de-monopolizing OPEC's influence in this area.
Secondly, I think that this new quality of relation could be
beneficial in stabilising the situation with China and foster
stability in China in terms of international and Russian security.
I want to remind you that Russia has one of the longest borders
with China, and that Russian-Chinese are subject to special analysis
in this context.
Thirdly, after OPEC and China, I will speak about non-proliferation,
which is in my opinion one of the key security issues for both
the United States and the world in general. Instability in Europe
may be the fourth point: the stability of Europe's borders.
Of these four issues clear benefits from strategic cooperation
with Russia must represent priorities in moving towards a new
quality of relations.
Also, it is very important to say just now that in my opinion
the successful operations in Afghanistan represent only the end
of the beginning. I think that this is a much broader and longer
undertaking than developments over the past four or five months.
And I think that there are at least 10 problems or 10 issues in
the world, which cannot be resolved without close cooperation
between Europe, Russia and the United States.
So I want to underline that success in the anti-terrorist operation
in Afghanistan must not create the feeling that everything has
been done, and that the key issue is to continue the war against
terror alone. There are other problems which are no less sensitive
First of all, I would cite the Balkans,the Israeli-Palestinian
situation, Pakistan and India, the possible collapse of Indonesia,
tensions around Taiwan, the war in Africa, environmental problems,
the traditional international crime and drugs issues, European
security, North Korea, Iraq and Iran. I cannot imagine any positive
resolution of these problems without Russia's involvement.
So I think that the events of 11 September clearly demonstrate
that it is better to start thinking and take real steps, try to
find solutions in advance to prevent the emergence of problems
such as the terrible incident in September. And the myth of the
possibility of creating security in a separate country is simply
a myth; the same myth as Russia's attempts to create the paradise
of communism in one separate country. So there is a clear for
us to face these and maybe some other problems today.
So we need to react in advance in order to be prepared. What
was the first step? From the Russian side, the first step was
Russia's reaction to the events of 11 September. What should be
the second step? The second step involves in my view preparations
for a new international political framework between Russia and
the United States. It would subsequently be necessary to decide
on the format of this framework - as a document, agreement, memorandum
or even treaty. But what is most substantial? Clearly it is the
And I want to stress here that this is not NATO. NATO is a completely
different story. Russia would have its own relations with NATO,
but this is not our goal, to simply be number 20 or 21 or 25 or
126 in NATO. And it is not military treaties or agreements, as
was the case during the Soviet era, on nuclear warheads, on disarmament
that are also very important, it is not a new quality, not in
NATO or such military agreements. It is the creation of a qualitative
new level of mutual understanding including in its framework the
agreements to be signed.
Is Russia prepared for what I have described? I understand all
the contradictions in my statements saying, but I want to answer
the question as to whether Russia is prepared. What I can tell
you for sure - as you know, as leader of the democratic opposition,
I was Putin's opponent in the elections. I was the man causing
all the fuss over the country and in Moscow when more than 20,000
people demonstrated in the clash over the independent television
station NTV. I want to confirm everything I said at the time about
my attitude to manageable democracy, to Moscow's actions in the
Northern Caucasus and in Chechnya.
But now I want to say something new. Is Russia prepared? I feel,
and I can cite arguments to back up this feeling, that the President
of Russia, Mr Putin, is seeking such an opportunity and is giving
some very serious signals. For example, Cuba, the military base
in Cuba and the military base in Vietnam. Secondly he demonstrated
a very patient and very balanced reaction to the decision of the
United States on ABM. Thirdly, a balanced reaction to the statement
from Washington about expanding NATO to the Baltic countries.
Finally, March, last year, even before the events on 11 September,
the president of Russia delivered the country's proposals to the
secretary-general of NATO about the establishment of a Russian-European
anti-ballistic defense system. By the way to date we have not
received any response to these steps.
These are the signals indicating that the Russian president is
looking for new people around him, because new people are required
to implement the new strategy and new quality of relations. I
want to say that this is amazing, as two years he created a team
that I would like to described through an analogy. Two years ago
he created a team to publish, for example, a Soviet newspaper
which we can call Sovetyetskaya Rossiya. This was a special team
that was prepared specially for this purpose for two years. Suddenly
and unexpectedly for the whole team, one day he published instead
of Sovetyetskaya Rossiya the New York Times with the same team.
The team was very surprised. But how long can such a situation
There is another issue. All the signals on such sensitive and
important political issues in Russia, and not only international
matters - everybody who knows Russia understands there are also
domestic issues - indicate that there is a chance; a very serious
chance. You can also see that this is not solely the position
of the president. You can see the letter signed by most prominent
Russian military scientists who refer directly to the need to
create a new framework in relations between Russia and United
States in military and strategic areas. And this is not a special
letter to the president; this is an article or letter which is
published publicly, and you can find people such as Messrs Velikhov,
Rogov and others. I am referring to these two famous Russian scientists
and very respected people, as in my opinion they would not sign
such a letter if this did not represent a chance and if they didn't
feel that there was some link to about a Russian Kremlin bureaucracy.
I also want to point out that this is not the only issue. The
public opinion polls in Russia disclosed some information that
you couldn't have expected half a year ago. The most recent poll
made by the FOM agency stated that 55% of Russians are very familiar
with the new relations between Putin and the United States and
support them. The alliance between Russia and United States in
the war against terrorism is supported by 70% of the total. Maybe
one of the most important signs is that in May 2001 approximately
30% of the population considered the United States as a friendly
country and not an enemy. This figure had risen to 48% by January
2002. This represents a serious move in Russian public opinion.
By way of summary, I was trying to say that I feel that it is
the right time to back statements about strategic partnerships
with some actual substance. I am referring here to a possible
agreement between Russia and the United States on military and
political based primarily on mutual guarantees on security and
borders in the 21st century. And this could be much broader.
When I refer to the process of creating such a framework - this
may involve several agreements - I am not simply talking about
the bureaucratic aspects of the issue. The actual process is extremely
important for positive domestic changes in Russia. Such a process
implies new people in the government. Such a process implies a
different focus for the people who remain. This process involves
qualitatively new prospects on internal changes and not only international.
From this viewpoint, I want to say that the good personal relations
between President Putin and President Bush are absolutely necessary
here, but we also have this prerequisite. It is certainly not
enough, but the prerequisite is there. This is also giving us
a chance to think about this issue.
I have spoken at Carnegie twice over the past 20 years. As far
as I remember on the first occasion I talked about important issues
and did not simply talk about Russian problems, but also referred
to something substantial. First of all in 1991 I discussed in
the United States something similar to the country's "Big
Deal"." In Russia it was termed the "Window of
Opportunity". This project was based on Russia's profound
economic transformation with the cooperation of the West and bargaining
over Russia's nuclear threat and similar issues.
It was rejected first of all by Mr. Gorbachev at that time. He
went to London on his first G-7 meeting with a different plan.
In August 1991 the coup happened. I made my second presentation
at Carnegie after the presidential elections in 1996. At that
time, everybody was very happy about the elections and the electoral
results and it proved very difficult to explain that Russia was
clearly about to face an enormous economic crisis, debt crisis,
and that only The blind couldn't see this happening. It was autumn
1996. In August 1998 this crisis happened.
The year 2002 represents the third opportunity. It is coming
from unexpected sides. It is coming from international situations
-- not so much from domestic but international. And I think that
main challenge of the 20th century was the challenge of how to
stop communism, and the main challenge of the 21st century is
cooperation with Russia. Given all the problems that we face,
there is no magician who can change everything in a day. Your
strategy of initially solving all your problems and only then
calling us to say that everything had been done would never work.
Things are far more complicated. It goes all together.
Russia certainly faces a number of problems, but close cooperation
with the West and substantial cooperation on the issues I listed
represents a possible solution to our internal problems as well.
The values we teach ourselves to share and realize must be supported
by cooperation. So the main message is to make the changes after
11 September irreversible. Let us not go back to the times before
11 September. It was a very nervous and unpromising period. Let
us go forward: I am sure that it is better for the world, for
Russia and for the vital interests of the United States to go
MODERATOR: Thank you, Grigory Alexeyevich. You
have presented a very, very thoughtful challenge, I think, to
all of us to think hard about the steps to move forward this bilateral
relationship, and more broadly Russia's relationship with the
We have about a half an hour now for questions, discussions,
comments. I would like to take the prerogative of chairman and
ask the first question. I think that everyone in this room would
agree that the United States and Russia share a large number of
common interests, and you enumerated many of them in your presentation,
and that many of these problems - virtually all these problems
- cannot be resolved without Russia's cooperation. I would agree
with this statement. To some extent work is proceeding on all
But you have really proposed a much more fundamental challenge,
I think, for Washington and Moscow: to come up with a more far-reaching
strategic framework; some kind of agreement between the United
States, that is separate from NATO and separate from arms control
agreements. And I was wondering if you could try to elaborate
and be more precise on your view of the contents of such an agreement.
You mentioned as a starting point a guarantee for mutual security
and borders. This is a major step. However, I was wondering if
you could talk a little bit more about your vision of the signed
agreement and its contents?
YAVLINSKY: Thank you. I wouldn't dare to explain
this issue. I play chess with a partner, but not with myself.
This is the issue, the main substance and key to such a possible
agreement. I can also see there non-proliferation issues, energy
issues, de-monopolization, arms control, ways of creating a joint
anti-ballistic missile system for Europe as an umbrella. So the
agreement could include such components and also the war against
terrorism. In a broader context, there is a region that I would
call North-East Asia. This region is the area of strategic economic
cooperation for the future. And this is the place in the world
which can act as a support; which can play a major role in de-monopolization
and the whole issue concerning OPEC.
So at least these economic, military and security issues can
be parts of these negotiations at the very outset. Certainly all
this would as a process - and let me reiterate this fact - have
a positive impact on changes inside Russia.
MODERATOR: Okay, let me open up the discussion
to the floor. And the first person I have is John Evans.
Q: Mr. Yavlinsky, you asked whether Russia is prepared
for such an over-reaching strategic agreement? Why do you think
that the United States is in any way prepared for such a big step?
We have Canada and Mexico as neighbors and don't need anyone to
help us secure our borders. As you said yourself, you face a far
more complicated situation with your borders in that part of the
Your proposal would seem to be in line with the long tradition
of Russian searches for guaranteed mutual security, which has
not been the approach of the United States over the years. We
have much other defense arrangements that we prefer. Do you have
any indication that the United States will be receptive to your
new initiative? Thank you.
YAVLINSKY: First of all, I want to underline that
this is not simply my initiative. It is not my initiative; it
is the political line that is derived more from realpolitik over
the last half year. This represents a logical development of this
line and is not simply the initiative of one man or one institution
or one intellectual.
Secondly, I want to point out that the events on 11 September
indicated that word borders is symbolic now, as the threats are
very special and very different from the threats in the previous
century or in the 19th or 18th century. So I'm using this simply
to ensure better understanding. In our case, there is an element
of the borders themselves, but the issue is much broader for Europe
and the United States. It consists of many issues. A biological
threat is also a kind of border. The terrorist attack related
to all these ideas about the possible launch of some missiles
in 5-10 years by terrorists, or other nations. So it is a much
Let me cite one example. For example, if it really involves a
decision to create a non-strategic anti-missile defense system
for Europe, this is virtually impossible to do physically, without
Russian territory and without exploiting Russian potential. Now
the issue concerns our technological possibilities. As you know,
we still have them. So, that is one of the key components indicating
that this is a qualitatively new situation.
Now, threats are so imminent that it is impossible to create
a secure Russia, without a secure United States and vice-versa.
This is simply a fact. We can agree or disagree on this move;
we can go different ways; the administration can say: no, we don't
want it, we simply want to look you in the eyes: we don't want
to give any signs whatsoever. But in my opinion soon it will become
clearer whether we want this or not. Is this a difficult problem?
Yes. Is it controversial? Yes. Would it be easy? No. But there
is simply no other solution. Look at the 10 problems I named.
We can't resolve them or at least render them more secure, without
Now let me turn to your views on the American approach to the
signing of security treaties with allies or with anybody. Here
I would like to say that I heard not so long ago that, as we are
friends, we are not going to sign any treaties with Britain or
France or Germany or whatever. Sorry, but I don't understand it,
but you have a treaty about NATO. So you have everything. You
have the so-called Article 5, which was strange after 11 September,
as it was referred to in hushed tones. I believe in my approach
owing to what I actually saw: how the US received immediate and
unconditional support from two countries, Great Britain and Russia,
to the utmost of our potential. I simply want to remind you that
we were actually allies in World War I, World War II and now at
the beginning of the 21st century. Maybe that means something.
So my answer is that the United States has a tradition of making
special agreements and this is not very new.
Q: Yes, Charles Gati. My question refers to both
the first and second half of your talk.
At the beginning you spoke about values and the importance of
these values and proponents of democracy and human rights, rather
than about military bases, which are appreciated. When you spoke
about the new big deal, the rapprochement, you spoke about initial
Russian steps which are greatly appreciated: Cuba, Vietnam, and
support against Afghanistan.
On the other hand, you made no mention of the kind of Russia
with which we would seek rapprochement. So I would like you to
speculate, the United States is to reach some kinds of new arrangements
with what kind of Russia? Is it going to be an electoral liberal
democracy? Is it going to be a semi-authoritarian Russia? Is it
going to be an authoritarian, China-like Russia? Because I think
we ought to know before we sign this deal.
YAVLINSKY: Thank you very much. That is a very
interesting question. I don't think that I can tell you in advance
all the conditions of this business, as I'm not sure what would
happen. I would confine myself to one statement: this is not a
deal: this is a proposal similar to the deal at the start of the
1990s. And this involves a joint undertaking, not because we like
each other, are brothers and sisters and not because we are one
civilization. All that is written down, but there is another reason.
Quite simply all the problems in the world can't be resolved without
this joint undertaking. Even more damagingly, if one of the partners
were to move in the opposite direction, there would not be any
solutions in 20, 50 years at all for any of these 10 problems
in the world. So this is a different quality.
What I like in this situation is that this does not involve any
favor or politeness or love or - I don't know what, friendship.
In Soviet times we like to make treaties about friendship, okay?
No, no, no, this is a different story. This is a very pragmatic
matter: from my point of view, Mr Putin is a very pragmatic man
and he took his steps, as he this pragmatism and these solutions.
Now, what can I say? I want to repeat again that until Russia
is able to sincerely share the key values of the modern Western
society, life in our country will undergo a very unstable, contradictory
and difficult phase. But it can't happen in one day. Even if the
president of Russia embodied all these values, this wouldn't mean
that the country was bound to move in that direction, especially
given Russian bureaucracy. What do the signals our president gave
Cuba and Vietnam mean? It was unexpected by everybody inside the
country, including all the bureaucrats.
So this is something new - he is giving signals. Now, it is possible
to move this way. I believe, that step by step, day by day we
will see positive changes in these absolutely crucial issues because
of this cooperation. You can see how sensitive public opinion
is and how it is working. However, this would bring changes over
I read a quote in an American newspaper stating positive relations
between the United States and Turkey: even though the United States
perceives a number of problems in Turkey, it recognises that Turkey
is a very important country and that there is a basis for applying
different strategic joint steps. So this is certainly a new approach
which is very complex. This approach does not concern the politicians,
but rather the statesmen who are thinking about the future of
the world and country and not simply considering the next elections.
This represents a challenge to diplomats and to diplomacy. It
is difficult to create such a framework with a country in Russia's
current state. But this needs to be done and will lead Russia
to implement serious changes, in terms of new people in government,
new potential within the country and a new orientation, as in
Russia the question of Russia's status as a Western country or
some kind of Eastern country or somewhere in the middle is the
key issue for all Russian literature, all Russian intelligentsia,
Russian thinkers, etc. The question is: are we prepared to answer
this question at the beginning of the 21st century? And we have
taken the first steps in this direction. If this answer were placed
on the table, a lot of issues would change much more rapidly.
MODERATOR: Angela Stent.
Q: Thank you. I have a two-part, but related question.
You yourself said that President Putin had taken this decision
on his own, and against the advice of many people around him.
The question we ask here now is, five, six months later, has he
been able to build a consensus among the elite on these issues?
As you said, the Russian people support him. Who is advising him
on this? Is he taking most of these decisions on his own? And
if he is, does that create a problem for him in the long run?
This leads to a related issue: if this was taken as a pragmatic
decision, when does he need to show the Russian people some definite
results? He did go out on a limb; he took decisions that weren't
necessarily popular. The agreement that you're proposing is obviously
further down the road, but is there - what's the timetable? Is
there an interim period when it is very important for President
Putin to show that there have been concrete results, if you like,
quid pro quos, from the United States for his support?
YAVLINSKY: First of all, it is not very difficult
for Mr. Putin to achieve a consensus. He simply says: this is
the consensus. (Laughter.) Is anyone against? And this is the
consensus. The same was true of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. This is
a Russian tradition, but it doesn't mean that there is really
a consensus. But visibly it is a consensus. Even the proponents
of neutrality or supporters of the Taliban now say that we are
the best friends of the United States. And now we have publications
advising Mr. Putin: these people are very, very anti-Western right
now whispering to his ear - everybody knows that this is not true,
simply, but everybody wants to present themselves as the main
advisor in this important manner.
So although I am from Byzantia, I have no answer as to who is
whispering in his ear. I simply don't know, really, because I
was very surprised - I remember how he listened to everybody and
then said: "Now I will disclose the decision. And everybody
says, okay, now we want to hear, and everybody was surprised?
I was very happy because I was advocating this decision. I was
trying to argue that it was impossible to sit in the middle. There
was only one choice: to offer unconditional support.
Now, I want to say that this is not an issue of a price list.
A significant proportion of the Russian political elite are saying
that we should ask the Americans to pay for our support. They
had a long, long price list. And they were even ready to fight
with each other over which price list is more attractive, and
were trying to bring this price list to him. On one occasion he
said: "I am not striking a deal. I am doing this, because
it is of vital interest to Russia. And I'm not going to ask the
US to help us with the economy, to give us money, or to do this
or to do that." No, no, it's not about this issue. It concerns
the future: the future of Europe and the world. So there is no
such timetable. It is not the Gorbachev era, where he needs to
obtain a loan to show the people the shops will contain some cheese,
as well as bread for a while. No, this is different. Sorry. He
is not even looking for that. And he is not asking for that. And
we, as a country, are not exploiting the tragedy of the United
States as a way to make us slightly richer, or something similar.
These are not normal relations. And I'm happy that Russia is not
doing such things.
So, and this is a very good sign, he even refused requests for
debt restructuring, IMF assistance, investments, etc.
MODERATOR: Except that it might be easier for us
to do those other things.
YAVLINSKY: Simply want to add that Mr. Bush will
visit Russia. This is due to such a schedule and such a framework.
And this may represent a way of doing something.
MODERATOR: Okay. I have a fairly lengthy list,
so let us move on, please. Next up is Marc Zlotnik.
Q: Well, actually, my question is very similar
to Angela's. Let me just follow up a little bit. And that is,
you know, if reality turns out to be something short of this grand
bargain you're talking about and the US isn't ready to go as far
as John suggested, but if Russia continues to be oriented towards
the West in the policies pursued by Putin, there will be some
slow movement. But I guess my question is really: what is enough?
You raised the spectre of August 1991, August 1998, if this third
opportunity is lost. How sustainable is this move towards the
West, if the West and the US end up being less willing to act
than the steps you outlined - and clearly there have been some
frustrations since September from Moscow. But can it continue
moving forward, and how strong is the opposition, and at some
point will Mr. Putin or those around him have to give up and try
out a different policy if it ends up being somewhat frustrating?
YAVLINSKY: I lay things out as they are and I am
no Alfred Hitchcock. I'm not telling you scare stories that something
terrible may happen. There is a Russian expression: what will
happen? What will happen? Nothing will happen. It would be the
same as today. That is all. I'm talking about improvements. But
we can leave things as they are. So simply things will continue
as they do today, with all the possible implications. This is
very understandable if you see the list of problems and problems
of the United States. I call them "world problems."
What would happen? Nothing would happen. I would fight for democracy.
I would challenge the President. I am going to continue my work.
I have a party. We have just 75 departments in almost all regions
of Russia. We are preparing for the next elections. We are going
along the same route. So we are doing our job. We would continue
doing this, as this is our vital interest and we are not doing
any favours for the US. We're doing this in Russia's best interests.
That is the only thing I can say. But look at developments in
the Balkans. What can happen in Israeli-Palestinian relations?
What can happen in India-Pakistan, etc.? Take a look and you will
be able to see what can happen.
I am sorry, but I have no special solutions. Simply, I have told
you what happened on two occasions. As you know, when a leader
advances too quickly and the political elite is lagging behind,
this creates some problems. It is very hard to say how they would
be developed in Russia.
Secondly, I want to say that politics is an area where there
is no vacuum. If you are not doing anything positive, you are
negative. If we are going to compile an old list of issues which
are very disturbing for the United States over the past year,
this would be a very impressive number. Simply I am not a guest
and I am not going to issue you this list. You know that. But
this is a protracted issue. Finally, we are not going to destroy
the nuclear warheads; we are going to store them. In Russian this
means one thing. Russia is an enemy. This idea is only interpreted
in one way. There is a difference, as all these warheads are needed
if Russia is perceived as the enemy and not for any other country,
because other countries possess a different potential. This may
be a different idea, but it needs to be negotiated. There is a
long list of such problems.
So if we are not moving in a positive direction, then we must
be moving in a negative direction. I do not plan to explain all
these issues. Simply, I have a number of concerns about these
MODERATOR: Toby Gati
Q: Grigory, the benefits to foreign policy provided
by 11 September can also be removed. And I wanted to ask you,
after listening to the references by the President last night
to "an axis of evil," did it sound to you as if the
US planned to take Russia into account, when deciding, for example,
whether to attack Iraq or take any other steps? And do you see,
or have you talked to people here for whom Russia is part of the
problem, even though it is not a terrorist state. It isn't and
hasn't been. However, it supports countries which the President
outlined as proponents of terrorism: therefore the image of Russia
is not always on our side, as it can be seen as a supporter of
countries with whom we have a real problem and possibly a military
YAVLINSKY: What is your question?
Q: The question is: how did you interpret that
speech, for example, on Iraq, and do you see any possibility that
Russian views will be considered and how would that work out?
There are deadlines, for example the UN Security Council action
on sanctions. So do you think that these issues will be resolved
in this new spirit?
YAVLINSKY: This is one of the problems related
to the previous question. I'm just saying that there's a momentum
in Russia that can be very cooperative. I don't know what would
happen if this had gone the other way. Just before leaving Russia,
Mr. Putin stated very explicitly and clearly that one of our priorities
is and would be non-proliferation. Russia is certainly a very
complicated country. But if you want to have real results, this
involves real technology. I mean the technology for relations
and knowing how to do this. Russia is a vast country. Thousands,
maybe millions of people are engaged in this area. And it would
be too much to say that the President has every singly unit under
his control. For this reason, there is a need for dialogue. It
is necessary to establish this kind of framework, as I think that
this is not only a threat to Europe or the United States, it also
poses a threat to us. It is a very serious issue. But I don't
want to stress the problem in the same way as before 11 September,
where both of us sought to create problems for each other, both
big and small. This is too dangerous, as the world is very fragile,
and it is too dangerous to try and have such competition. It's
too dangerous to make some of the Russian elite feel that they
can only gain the attention of the US if they do something disturbing.
It would be better to normalize these relations, as this would
be much more secure.
So this is officially our priority. The President is saying that
non-proliferation and all similar issues are a priority. But if
we want to make this practical, this is one of the important part
of these discussions. I don't want to state that this should be
on paper or not. These are different issues.
MODERATOR: Okay. We have time for one more question.
I apologize to everybody who did not manage to ask a question
this morning. Here is the last question.
Q: You said that freedom of speech is problem
number one. In your opinion, is the situation with the media changing
for the better in Russia? Essentially Putin is consolidating the
media, forcing out any dissident voices under the guise of business
irregularities or bankruptcies. It looks as if he is winning the
power struggle against Gusinsky and Berezovsky. How is media consolidation
and government monopoly going to play in the efforts to make Russia
a more open and flexible country and change the internal situation
YAVLINSKY: At the moment, the situation in the
Russian media is very, very bad, the worse since '90, '91. We
have only one thing. We have a state television and state propaganda,
and whatever. So this is a good story. This is one of our very
serious problems. But that's why I started, because this is absolutely
clear. And this is a serious problem. And certainly there are
some business issues, but this is not about business. This is
a political issue.
But these are simply problems that we have to resolve. These
are our internal matters and this is also in our vital interest.
Certainly you are welcome to invest. But it is our task to establish
an independent media. Nobody can resolve this issue for us. Nobody
can create an independent media for Russia. We are able to see
CNN, so that is the only thing you can do for us. You can translate
it into Russian. That will be interesting. But that is the only
thing that you can do. All the other media We have established
all the other media on our own.
One more point. This was one special example. While the meeting
between our president and President Bush, as far as I know, involved
a talk about one event, which was in Pakistan. At some point of
this anti-terrorist war before, I think at the very beginning,
a group of Taliban representatives came to the Russian Embassy
in Pakistan requesting weapons. And they were under control of
the Pakistani security. Putin asked President Bush whether he
knew about that. He said that he didn't. Russia certainly rejected
the request. But look at how difficult it was, even in that situation.
This provided evidence of a really new quality in relations. They
came to ask. The Pakistani security were not giving information
to your secret services.
MODERATOR: Grigory Alexeyevich, we are very grateful
for a very thoughtful, stimulating, and, indeed, provocative presentation
and discussion this morning. You have outlined a very large challenge
for us all over the months and years ahead. I know you are going
to outline this challenge to leaders in the Bush administration
and on the Hill later on today and tomorrow. I hope that those
discussions go well and that we see some positive results.
Let me just conclude by saying that we don't want to wait another
five years to see you again here in Washington. So please come
soon and a little more frequently. Thank you.
YAVLINKSY: Thank you very much.