April 27, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, hegemonic media has inundated the world with distortion and misinformation about the situation in Ukraine, eliminating context and history and carrying out a propaganda war.
Russian voices have been silenced, and any alternative or contextualized view of the occurrences is banned or branded “Russian government propaganda.” In this context, Orinoco Tribune interviewed Russian economist and political analyst Egor Lidovskoy, to get a view from Russia on the current situation in Donbass as well as in Russia itself.
Lidovskoy is the director general of the Hugo Chávez Latin American Cultural Center, based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He founded the Hugo Chávez Center in 2012 to inform Russians about the ongoing processes and battles for political, economic and cultural sovereignty in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Here we present Lidovskoy’s perspective on several questions that we asked him, in an attempt to balance the disproportionate mainstream media propaganda against Russia and Russians.
1) What is the general mood in Russia about the military operation in Ukraine? Western media has shown us images of anti-war protests in Russia and anti-war activists being arrested. On the other hand, we have also seen news that public support for President Putin is very high. Who are the people in these two camps?
We generally hear that the Western propaganda machine is based on lies. However, you can realize the depth and the lack of principles of these lies only when they affect you. I live in Russia, and can see the real situation, due to which on the one hand it is very funny to read about protests in Russia, but on the other hand it is sad because many people in the West believe such news. More than 80% of the Russian population supports President Putin and our special military operation; about 15% follow how the events are unfolding and have not yet formed any opinion. And only about 5% oppose the operation, of whom a few hundred people participate in the rallies. The largest one was the first rally in Moscow, in which about 2,000 protesters joined; this protest was coordinated by the agents of the United States Embassy. It did not have any impact on daily life in the country or the city.
Another rally, which was joined by more than 200,000 patriots in support of Vladimir Putin and our troops, was not given any attention by any Western media outlet. Moreover, videos and photos of this rally were deleted by social media, which tells us a lot about the freedom of expression in the West. I can also say that over the course of the special operation, Putin’s approval among the Russian people is increasing constantly. If by the end of February it was a little less than 70%, now it is over 80%. This is due to the fact that as the territories of Donbass are getting liberated from the fascist battalions, we are getting more and more evidence of the monstrous crimes committed by the fascists in the territories of the sister republics.
2) One of the declared objectives of the Russian military operation in Ukraine is ‘denazification’. Mainstream media in the West and elsewhere have tried to deny the existence of Nazis in Ukraine, or have claimed that they are very small in number or that they are not in government. What is the real situation? How much control do Nazis really have in the government and the security forces of Ukraine, in your opinion? To what extent could they influence the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine?
A very good and important question, thanks. This question is probably the most silenced in the West. They speak of some democratic government in Ukraine and deny the presence of fascists, or claim that they are few and have little power, which is a lie. In 2014 there was a coup d’état in Ukraine, and Ukraine lost its democratic legitimacy. The brain behind this coup was, of course, the US, but the hands were the fascist battalions. They got huge power thanks to their Western guardians; they killed with impunity; they tortured Russian-speakers; they raped and burned people, like in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa; they bombed the children’s beach in Zugres with cluster bombs on which they had written “All the best for the children.” These regions had rallied against the coup, for a legitimate democratic power; they did not even demand to join Russia; they simply did not want to strengthen the fascist power that was created by the Maidan.
The fascists have created a system of concentration camps and torture chambers; now that we are liberating these territories, we are discovering hundreds of mass graves with mutilated corpses close to the bases of the Nazi battalions. These Nazis have absolute power in the Ukrainian territory, they do what they want and there is no law against them. The commanders of the armed forces were replaced by Nazis, they carried out propaganda in children’s parks and schools, where children sang fascist hymns, they were taught Nazi salutes, and they vowed to kill Russians when they grow up. The Nazis control everything in Ukraine.
The stupidest question that I have heard is, how is this possible, since the president of Ukraine is Jewish? My friends, the president of Ukraine has no power in Ukraine, the US directly controls the troops; Zelensky is the face in the television to create the image of a democratic young man fighting for the European future. This is a cheap Hollywood production; perhaps this is why they decided to make an actor president. His only job is to recite a memorized speech with tears in his eyes, for which he goes around to the parliaments of various foreign countries instead of directing the army. The Ukrainian troops are led by US generals who served in Iraq, through their men like Avakov and others who were friends with Biden and his son even in 2014. And they have created a fascist beast in Ukraine.
3) There are reports that since 2014, when the Popular Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk seceded from Ukraine after the coup against former President Yanukovych, there has been a continuous flow of refugees from those regions into Russia. Can you give an estimate of how many people fled to Russia over the last eight years, before the Russian military operation began in Ukraine? What is the number since the start of the operation? What is the situation of all these refugees?
Of course, many residents of Donbass came to Russia from 2014 to 2022, but it is difficult to call this a flow of refugees. Rather, this can be called a movement of people within a country, because although Donbass is not a part of Russia, many inhabitants of the region have expressed their desire to get Russian citizenship. They moved freely from Donbass to Russia and from Russia to Donbass, because there is an extensive familial relation among our people, because despite the borders we are essentially a single people, and there are many families which have one part in Russia and the other part in Donbass. Of course, during all this time the bombardment of Donbass from the Ukrainian territory continued, but the valiant people of Donbass have been able to defend the independence of their republics, and basically they have remained in the territories in order to protect them.
Since the start of the [latest] Ukrainian attack on Donbass on February 17, Russia started helping in the massive evacuation of women and children from the Donbass Republics, and also from the territories liberated from the fascists after the start of our special operation on February 24. We do not classify refugees based on “our refugees” and “not our refugees,” and the total number of refugees in Russia is already close to a million. The situation gets complicated due to the fact that in the territories controlled by Kiev, where the people opposed the coup, the population is held hostage as a human shield, and the Nazis kill those who try to leave these cities and travel to Russia. At the same time, the supporters of the regime in the western regions of Ukraine can go safely to Poland and other countries of Europe, get free food and shout their slogans. Such division into “ours” and “not ours” gives a complete characterization of the Nazi power.
4) Russia recognises the Popular Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as sovereign countries. However, recently Denis Pushilin and some other leaders of the Republics, as well as from South Ossetia, have expressed that the people of these regions wish to join Russia as provinces of the Russian Federation. How is the discussion about this going on in Russia? Do you think there is a possibility of this happening?
Of course, in the minds of our peoples, we are the same country. If we go back to the conversation about the discontent of the Russian people, we are discontented with the Donbass Republics not being recognized for several years, which of course, are mentally part of Russia. We are not happy that South Ossetia is yet to be reunited with North Ossetia (in fact, Ossetia is a united republic, but the North is now part of Russia while the South was stolen by Georgia). I think there are no obstacles for South Ossetia to enter Russia and for the historic reunification of the Ossetian people.
As for the Donbass Republics, it is necessary to first complete the liberation of the territories from the Nazis, because the authorities of the Republics still don’t have control of 100% of the territories. Although the entire territory voted for the independence of the Republics in a referendum, the Nazis of Ukraine, through atrocities in Odessa, Mariupol and other places, managed to take control of a considerable area, and although Donetsk and Lugansk did not fall, they did not have enough power to defend the entire territory.
Now Russia has come to the rescue to stop the fascist atrocities in Donbass, and I am sure that victory will be ours. Only after this will it be possible to discuss these Republics joining Russia. Naturally, a lot will depend on the will of the Russian leadership, but I can get what the people feel, both in Russia and in Donbass: everybody wants this union; nobody thinks that we are different countries.
5) In recent days there has been significant progress in the negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine. Do you see an end to the conflict in the coming weeks? What would a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine look like?
While I was preparing the responses to your questions, the situation changed. Ukraine, that declared certain compromises in dialogue, sent Russia completely different documents for an agreement, in which these compromises were not reflected. During that time, when we had put a pause to our operation and withdrew a part of our troops as a gesture of goodwill, they came up with the provocation in Bucha.
We already know that this Hollywood scene was coordinated by people from the UK. We know who, how and where they organized this disinformation attack against Russia. It was because of this that they lied to us during the negotiations: to cause a delay, to rally their troops, to make us decrease our activity, and carry out a new provocation. In fact, it is very difficult to talk about any negotiation with Ukraine, because they send people to the negotiations who do not have the authority to take decisions, and they simply waste time. If I am to talk about how we see a peace agreement, we see it as a document in which Nazi ideology will be prohibited; Ukraine will be outside of the bloc [NATO], denuclearized and demilitarized; there will be recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and recognition of the independence of the Donbass Republics.
6) How have the economic sanctions and exit of multinational corporations from Russia impacted the economy and the employment situation of Russia? Have the government and other authorities taken steps to financially protect the people who have lost their jobs due to this reason?
The impact of the sanctions against Russia in Russia is a lot less than the impact of the same sanctions on the countries that impose those sanctions. I do not deny that impacts of the sanctions exist, but they are not more severe than during the first attacks of the pandemic. If we talk directly of employment, a law has been enacted that if a company leaves Russia and does not pay the employees their salaries, its property will be nationalized and transferred to the control of Russian companies. Hence, the majority of foreign companies have not left Russia, but they “have suspended operations while continuing to pay the employees.” Many companies shut down for a week and then started again. Of course, there are some who left entirely; their production will be nationalized.
Therefore, the degree of unemployment now is much lower than that at the time of the pandemic, for example. One of the most important measures of the government is the substitution of imports of those products whose analogous products are not produced in Russia. Thanks to this, in the near future a large number of new industries will be opened, which will lower the unemployment index to a historic minimum in future. This will of course take time, but for a Russian, overcoming temporary difficulties for the good of a Great Idea, for the good of the Homeland, is a question of honor. This is what those in the West, who have replaced the word “Homeland” with the word “money,” will never understand.
7) In Venezuela, the first things that came with the sanctions were shortages of essential products – especially food items and medicines, as well as a surge in black-marketing. Has Russia also experienced these problems? Has the government adopted measures to prevent these from happening?
I understand where this question comes from, as I heard that in the West they are trying to sell the story about hunger in Russia. It is funny to read about hunger in Russia in Western media, because although in some industries we really need to intensify our work on the substitution of imports, for food we started the substitution of imports in 2014, and at present more than 90% of our food is produced in Russia, from Russian products. Therefore, food is a sector that has not been affected by the sanctions.
For medicines, the level of substitution of imports is less than that in the case of food, but we have not felt any shortage of medicines, because Russian counterparts exist for the majority of foreign medicines. If there arises a situation of shortage of some medicine of which there is no Russian analogue, then the government will assign funds for the substitution of that import.
As for black market, Russia dollars were never used for calculations, we only see dollars when we travel abroad and change rubles for dollars to pay in foreign countries. For this reason, there was never any great necessity for dollars at the individual level. Moreover, now our businesses refuse to accept payments in dollars from foreigners, because, given the sanctions, we cannot get foreign goods and services, and thus we no longer need dollars. We have started a process of dedollarization, and I think that the largest possible number of countries in the world should join us, especially countries like Venezuela and others that are suffering from sanctions. If the dollar has no power, then the sanctions have no power. Dedollarization is freedom for the peoples of the world.
8) In a statement published in March, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation said that the new economic measures of the government would not be enough to combat the sanctions, and that greater nationalization of companies and resources and socialization of the economy would be necessary to strengthen it in a comprehensive manner. What do you think of this statement? Are there any indications of such changes coming in the near future?
I think that the opinion of the respected Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, whom I have the honor of being acquainted with, and whom I consider a person profoundly dedicated to the Homeland, is correct. In the difficult conditions of pressure from the West, nationalization and socialization are important elements of resistance. I do not think that the approach of complete nationalization will be used, but I believe that there will be an obvious departure from the pure free market. The government will balance itself in between these two extreme points, tilting towards the left in strategically important areas and towards the right in the case of small businesses, opening a path of self-advancement for the people.
We understand that the planned economy in its purest form functions badly, we saw it during the 80s. The free market in its purest form functions even worse, we saw it in the 90s. Now we are trying to follow the middle way, adjusting the areas of activity according to the necessities. Obviously, the strategic industries of the economy in these conditions will be better positioned for readjustment to the left, and I see that the government has started to move in that direction.
9) The European Union is following the US in the matter of sanctions against Russia although these measures seem to be harming European populations too. Do you think that this situation will continue even after the establishment of a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine? Especially, will all the sanction measures be maintained, and will the EU continue to follow them as long as possible?
This is a very good and important question, thanks! I think that many people in the West who follow the media believe that the sanctions were imposed because Russia started its special operation. Of course, this has got nothing to do with reality. The package of sanctions was prepared long before the start of the special operation, and the West did everything possible to impose those sanctions, looking for whatever reason. They pressured Ukraine to launch a large-scale attack on Donbass. Of course, Donbass has suffered from the war during the last eight years, but under US pressure, Ukraine sent all its forces to recover control of Donetsk and Crimea.
They had an operation programmed for March 8, with a large number of civilian victims, and wanted to carry it out after they had established control over Donetsk. Our military intelligence had this data, and we got more documented evidence after we had started liberating territories of Donbass. Thus, immediately after Ukraine had launched a massive attack on the Donbass Republics, we started a special operation so that there would not be thousands of victims in Donetsk and Crimea, which is territory of the Russian Federation.
Perhaps Ukraine had thought that the US would help them to capture Crimea and Donbass, but the US itself did not think so. The US knew that Russia would respond, and this is why they launched an attack on Donbass, so that they could then impose the sanctions. Of course, these sanctions have been imposed forever, because the aim of the United States is not to save its puppet government of Ukraine, but to destroy Russia. As for the EU, they do whatever the US tells them to do, so it would be meaningless to discuss what the servants will do.
10) Russia has been called ‘imperialist’ by Western imperialist powers as well as by sectors of the Western left for the military operation in Ukraine. On the contrary, most analysts from the Global South say that the West’s attitude towards Russia constitutes a war against Russia. Mexican geopolitical expert Alfredo Jalife has called it the ‘first hybrid world war’, where propaganda and economic sanctions are used as weapons of war. What is your opinion on all this?
Russia’s politics is not an imperialist politics, and Russia is not an imperialist country. If we study history, we see that Ukraine was not a separate country, its territory was always part of Russia, we were always the same people. On the contrary, the West demonstrated imperialist politics when it divided one people into three different countries—Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. By establishing in Ukraine its puppet fascist power, the West converted part of Russian territory into its own overseas territory—territory controlled by the US. Is this not imperialism? This is imperialism.
Of course, this is the West’s great war against Russia. The situation in Ukraine is only a part of this enormous war. The US started this war against us because we no longer want to live in a world controlled by the mad US empire, we want a different world, a multipolar war based on friendship, respect, and equality of all countries. Many countries want it. Then why is Russia the object of attack? Because we are the only one that can defeat them. Of course, there are a large number of countries that are resisting and are maintaining their own policies, although not as many as we would like; many are afraid. But even those that are openly in insubordination, unfortunately they do not have the opportunity to defeat an empire on a global scale—Russian can.
This is why they are in such a hurry; this is why they have unleashed all their forces today—they do not want us to become even stronger and eliminate their main weapon. Their main weapon is not their army at all, their main weapon is the dollar, the system of financial slavery, and Russia is ready to abandon the dollar and construct a just and independent financial system for everyone. Everything that is happening in the world right now is the United States’ attempt to stop Russia and to maintain its own hegemony. It is due to this that they hate our leader, Commander Putin, so much, because he leads and personifies the process of liberation. But they will not be able to defeat us because their god is money and our god is love.
11) Many analysts think that a multipolar world will be consolidated out of this crisis, where US power will significantly decrease. As indications they point at the strengthening of the Russia-China alliance, various countries starting to trade with Russia in their national currencies, etc. However, many of Russia’s associates in Latin America – countries with which Russia has significant relations such as Argentina and Mexico – voted with the US/the West against Russia at the United Nations. The evolving situation seems complex. What is your opinion on this? What would the new world order be in your opinion?
As I already said, many countries would like a multipolar world based on respect. The world that Russia offers. But many are afraid to go against the will of the US because the US can use its most potent weapon against them; as I said, it is not the army, but a criminal financial system based on the dollar. Many representatives of these countries, after the vote at the UN, approached us in secret and asked for forgiveness, and said that they were under pressure. Serbian President Vucic said it publicly to the media: we voted this way because they threatened to destroy Serbia with sanctions. But we, Russia, are profoundly convinced that one day the truth and the light will triumph. All the power of the United States is based on the illusion of power. When sanctions are applied by all against one, it is very painful. But if these “all” stop being afraid, if they stop complying with the US sanctions, and if they all start trading together without the dollar, we will see that the US does not have the power to enslave the world. Their power is based on an illusion built on fear. If the fear of this scheme is eliminated and everyone gets united, then the world can change. The world—for which Russia is fighting—can be multipolar, equal, friendly, and based on mutual respect. Without a doubt, we will win!
Featured image: An armored convoy of troops moves along a road during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol. Photo: Reuters.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Saheli Chowdhury
Saheli Chowdhury is from West Bengal, India, studying physics for a profession, but with a passion for writing. She is interested in history and popular movements around the world, especially in the Global South. She is a contributor and works for Orinoco Tribune.
Saheli Chowdhury#molongui-disabled-linkFebruary 16, 2021