Continuing this story from the Komsomolka, it comprises an interview — taking place over glasses of whiskey in a Stockholm pub — between reporter Darya Aslamova and fugitive Russian dissident Alexei Sakhnin.
Recall the backstory: The so-called “Bolotnaya” protests in Russia (2011-2013) were organized by the American State Department, in an attempt to overthrow the Putin government in Russia. Some idiot in Barack Obama’s State Department chose a white ribbon as the symbol of this particular color revolution; and another idiot picked the name the “Snow Revolution”. The revolution was supposed to topple Putin from the Presidency (replacing him with an American puppet, somebody like Alexei Navalny); and was also supposed to replace the majority United Russia political party in the Russian parliament with a coalition government more obedient to American foreign policy.
The method chosen to overthrow the Russian government was violent street protest, allegedly against official corruption and falsified elections. The anti-government protesters formed a motley coalition spanning the entire Russian political spectrum, from right-wing nationalists/fascists to the liberal bourgeois parties, and even a few so-called “Radical Left” elements. Of which Sakhnin’s party, the Left Front, was one. (Giving these guys the benefit of the doubt, probably they didn’t realize that this whole shebang was being paid for by the Americans; or if they did know, then they decided that the end justifies the means.)
Bolotnaya was never a real threat to Putin, the Americans were literally insane if they ever believed they could overthrow the Russian government in this manner. However, out on the streets it was a big deal, things got hot and heavy, there was a lot of violence and disorderly conduct. Thanks to this, the inevitable post-protest repressions were more than just the usual “3 days in the slammer” type of slap on the wrist. When Sakhnin witnessed his friends being arrested, he panicked and fled to Sweden. Sweden being a traditional enemy of Russia, not to mention conveniently close. There, despite his attention-grabbing efforts, Sakhnin was mostly ignored until a respectable Swedish newspaper bought his anti-Putin op-ed. After that, he became the toast of the town, with a reputation as one of the few good Russians, a “good Ivan” as the Swedes say. We pick up our story here.
Darya: “So, you became part of the political mainstream?”
Sakhnin: “I did. As long as I continued to write anti-Putin stuff, then everything was great. I was one of the good guys, who says the right things. And then Ukraine happened. I had friends in Odessa, there were members of the local chapter of Left Front, they called their faction Borotba. So I phone them and ask: Why aren’t you guys out on the Maidan? And they reply: Are you NUTS? The people on the Maidan are running around trying to find Jews to kill. After this I contacted a Swedish newspaper and proposed that they send me to Ukraine with press credentials. They agreed. This was the first actual critical reporting out of Ukraine. I reported from Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. I wrote about what I witnessed. People in camouflage roaming the streets. All the ultra-right symbology. The Right Sektor was truly in charge, everywhere.
“I arrived in Odessa already after the events of 2 May, when people were burned alive on Kulikovo Field. In my capacity as a [credentialed] Swedish journalist I went to visit businessman Mark Gordienko. Who, after the revolution, was collecting money from other businessmen in the name of war and patriotism. There was a tank right outside his house! And a table covered with automatic weapons. Musclemen in masks were busy unloading the weapons. We sit down and drink a cognac. I ask him: Are you aware that everybody in Odessa hates people like you, they call you a junta? What do you mean everybody? he responds. Who are these everybody? Everybody, I affirm. The young waitress girl, the old lady we rented our apartment from, the taxi drivers… Gordienko: They are nobodies. I to him: If you say things like that in Europe, then no newspaper will give you the time of day. Gordienko replies: Europe is an old whore. With all her blathering about human rights, she would hand us over to Putin. I persist: All the same, there are many people in Odessa who don’t agree with you. How do you plan to live in the same city with these people? And here he shows his true colors: We have, he says, a proposed compromise for those who don’t agree with us: If they want to go on blathering about the so-called junta, then let them do it in secret, quietly, in whispers, in the toilet! But if they come out into the streets, then we will shoot them. After this interview, I returned [to Sweden] and wrote my piece about ordinary fascism in the Ukraine. I wrote that the Crimea issue should be resolved by the 2 million people who live there. That this is their right.”
Darya: “And after that you stopped being a good guy?”
Sakhnin: “I did. I actually believed that there was freedom of opinion in the West. And all of a sudden there appeared, in a small but well-respected Swedish newspaper, a 6-column article claiming that Left Front were Dispatched Cossacks; that we were created by Mr. Surkov in order to manipulate the masses; and that I, Alexei Sakhnin, was a high-ranking agent of the Putin regime. I wrote a protest letter to the local media-ombudsman (there is such a person, he is responsible for disputes in the press), and I won my case, but this didn’t seem to matter to anyone…”
[to be continued]