Сюжеты · Политика

Anna Politkovskaya: “It’s only us who can heat up the temperature from minus to plus”

It’s up to the Russians only to melt the political winter of Putin

Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, wrote the book “Putin's Russia” in 2004. It was immediately published in English and quickly enough translated into most European languages.

In her book Politkovskaya gave a definite portrait of Putin. She warned the world, but the world wouldn’t listen. They didn't want to hear.

She was assassinated two years later, on October 7th, 2006, the day of Putin's birthday. Today everything that she warned the world about eighteen years ago — tragedy, gory violence, the war that Putin was leading to — has happened.

«Novaya Gazeta. Europe» publishes an excerpt from Anna Politkovskaya's book.

Anna Politkovskaya

I have been thinking a lot: well, why do I have it in for Putin? Why do I dislike him so much that I’ve even written a book? Although I am not his opponent, not a political competitor, but just one of the citizens living in Russia? Simply a 45-year-old Muscovite, and that means I was around when the Soviet Union was collapsing brutally in the 70-80s of the last century, so I really don’t want to go there again …

I finish writing the book on May 6th, 2004 — specifically on May 6th. Tomorrow it will all be over. No miracle challenging the results of the elections on March 14th happened, the opposition agreed to everything and bowed their heads. And so tomorrow is the day of the inauguration of Putin-2, who was elected to power by an insane number of residents’ votes — more than 70 percent, and even if we cut off 20 percent for «addition» (falsification), it will still be quite enough for the presidency in Russia.

There are only a few hours left until May 7th, 2004, and Putin, a typical lieutenant colonel in the Soviet KGB, with a narrow-minded worldview of a lieutenant colonel, with an nondescript look of a lieutenant colonel, who has not risen up to a colonel, with the manners of a Soviet secret police officer who is used to professional spying on his own comrades, vindictive

(not a single political oppositionist was invited to the inauguration, not a single party that fails to keep the pace with Putin), no-one important, typical Chekhov's Akaky Akakievich — this man will have… the throne.

The Great Russian Throne.

Brezhnev was not good enough. Andropov was blood-and-guts, though with a touch of democracy. Chernenko was stupid. Gorbachev didn't fit in. Yeltsin sometimes made us pray in fear for the consequences of his actions…

And here is the result. Tomorrow, May 7th, the guard of the twenty-fifth echelon, whose place is to secure a passing-by VIP cortege, this Akaki Akakievich Putin will walk along the red carpet in the Kremlin throne rooms as if he really owns it. The gold is polished and shines, the servants smile obediently, comrades — each of them, not a rotten apple in the bunch, are the former petty ranks of the KGB, who got important positions only under Putin’s rule, assume a dignified air…


Putin rising to power and cementing it makes the revenge of the Soviet Union obvious.

It must be said that this came out not only from our sloppiness and apathy together with exhaustion from endless revolutions. This happened to the cheers of the West. First of all, Berlusconi — Putin's lover and chief European lawyer for Putin, — as well as Blair, Schröder, Chirac with Bush-son coming into the picture.

Nothing stood in the way of our KGB man to the Kremlin. Nor the West. Nor serious opposition within the country.


A short digression: it is no longer about Putin, but about us, the Russian public. Putinistas are people who promote him, who are interested in his second accession to the throne, people who are now concentrated in the presidential administration, which actually runs the country, and neither the government (it carries out the will of the president) nor the parliament (stamps out the laws that the president wants) — they very closely monitor the public’s reaction. It's not true that they don't care. And the fact that it is the way it is means too much: we are to blame for everything that happens. It’s us, not Putin.

Our kitchen-sink reaction (only gossips in the kitchen) to Putin and his cynical scoffing of Russia is a guarantee that Putin has done all this with the country in the previous four years. The social apathy shown by society is immense. And it serves as an indulgence to Putin for the next four years. We reacted to his actions and speeches not just sluggishly, but with fear. We showed this fear of ours to the Chekists, rooted in power. And this only ginned up their desire to treat us like scums. The KGB respects only the strong — it devours the weak. Shouldn’t we know this best? And yet we — as a whole — proved ourselves to be weak and were devoured (repressed). For a Soviet Chekist fear is a sight for sore eyes. There is no better gift for him than to feel the crowd, which must be subjugated to their will, to have its heart at its heels.


Putin has publicly demonstrated many times that he basically does not understand what a discussion is. Especially a political one — according to Putin, a discussion of the inferior and the superior shouldn’t take place.

And if the subordinate allows it, then he is an enemy. Putin behaves in this way not deliberately, not because he is a tyrant and despot ad natum — he was simply brought up in ways that the KGB drilled in him, and he considers this system ideal, which he has publicly stated more than once. And therefore, as soon as someone disagrees with him, Putin categorically demands «to stop the hysteria.» (Hence he refuses to participate in pre-election debates, which are not in his nature, he is not capable of them, he does not know how to make a dialogue. He is an exclusive monologist. According to the military model the subordinate must keep silent. A superior talks, but in the mode of a monologue, and then all the inferiors are obliged to pretend that they agree. A sort of ideological hazing, sometimes turning into physical destruction and elimination as it happened to Khodorkovsky).


Why do I have it in for Putin? Because the years go by. It's already been five years this summer since the second Chechen war started so that Putin becomes a president for the first time — and it still won't end. <…> ALL the murders of children that have taken place during shelling and moping-ups since 1999 have remained unsolved, uninvestigated by law enforcement agencies, child killers have not found themselves on the dock. And Putin never demanded this — although he is known as a great friend of all children.


Why do I have it in for Putin? That's why I have it in for Putin. Because of his crudeness which is worse than thieving. Because of his cynicism. Because of racism. Because of endless war. Because of lies. Because of the gas at Nord-Ost. Because of corpses of the innocently killed, accompanying his entire first term as a president. Corpses that might have been avoided.


Putin, having accidentally got the grip of huge power, disposed of it with catastrophic consequences for Russia. And I don't like him because he doesn't like people. He cannot stand us. He despises us. He believes that we are a means for him, and nothing more. A means to achieve his personal power goals. So he can do everything he wants to us — to play as he pleases. To destroy us at his will. We are nobody. And he, although he accidentally cut in the queue, is now the king and god, whom we must worship and fear.

Russia has already had leaders with a similar worldview. This has led to tragedy. To a lot of blood. To civil wars.

And I don't want that. So that’s why I have it in for the typical Soviet security officer walking along the red carpet of the Kremlin to the Russian throne.


We can’t agree for the political winter to linger in Russia for several decades again. I want to live. I want the kids and grandchildren to be free. Therefore, I really crave a quick thaw. But It’s only us who can heat up the temperature from minus to plus.Nobody else. It’s stupid and unrealistic to wait for a thaw from the Kremlin, as happened under Gorbachev’s rule. And the West will not help us either — it reacts sluggishly to «Putin's anti-terrorist recipes.» The West gets on well with many things — vodka, caviar, gas, oil, bears, people of a special mould … The Russian exotic market is already in its place. Europe and the world do not need anything else from our almost seventh part of the land.

Главный редактор «Новой газеты. Европа» — Кирилл Мартынов. Пользовательское соглашение. Политика конфиденциальности.
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