Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Russian Michael Moore

Marco Masi at Chechnya-SL has provided a translation of a recent interview with Andrei Nekrasov about his film, Disbelief (Nedoverie):

Russia - 21.1.2005

The Russian Michael Moore

Interview with Andrei Nekrasov: "Democracy with us has no future"

How has your film, Disbelief, been received in Russia?

In two completely opposite ways: there were those who praised the courage to challenge the wall of silence that covers these arguments, and those who called me traitor, the friend of Chechen terrorists, the enemy of Russia, the servant of the oligarchs and of the United States. In summary, all the classical accusations that are raised against someone who dares to doubt the official truth of the Kremlin. There have been also threats.

Were you subjected to some form of censorship?

Well, formally not, but in fact yes. They allowed the projection of Disbelief only in a small theatre of Moscow, without any advertisement, and this already tells a lot. But above all, I have been prevented to transmit it on television: no Russian network wanted to transmit my documentary because in Russia there is no television that isn't under the control of the government.

Do you believe that your film will have some concrete effect on the Russian society?

I hope this very much. But I'm realistic: only the things that pass through television, and therefore reach all, succeed in influencing the public opinion. Having seen it only few, I doubt that my documentary will ever succeed in touching the certainties coming from the government propaganda.

What is the central thesis of your film?

Disbelief does not accuse the Russian government of being behind the attacks of '99. It accuses it however of not having done what every democratic government would have done in its place: to search for the truth about a tragedy that struck its people, to inquire to the last in a clear and transparent way. Instead, as the documentary tells, the authorities didn't make anything else than to put up obstacles against
the inquiry and hiding the proofs, shutting the mouth of everyone who dared to doubt the official truth.

And why should the government behave in such a manner?

In order to protect itself. Today in Russia the so-called 'siloviki' give orders, the men of the intelligence agencies and the army. They are the new ruling class which came to power with the arrival in the Kremlin of the former KGB official Putin. Today Russia is governed by the FSB, the former KGB. Therefore, if, like it is probable, the agents of the FSB have their responsibilities in the attacks of the '99, the government protects them to whatever cost. In Russia, since ever, the intelligence agencies resemble more a secret sect, with its rigid code of honor that does not contemplate the betrayal of a companion, for no reason in this world.

What do you think about Chechen terrorism and the Chechen issue?

I don't think, as some have accused me to say, that Chechen terrorism doesn't exist. It exists definitely, but perhaps it is comfortable to someone. Perhaps someone manipulates it in order to obtain political advantages, this yes. I think instead that the war in Chechnya is a horror, like every war. But this in particular has tremendous implications because the Russian army attacks civilians, considering
them all potential terrorist. In this way one can not fight terrorism: in this way one feeds it.

And what does the people in Russia typically think of it?

Unfortunately the propaganda of the government on the subject is very effective. Just in virtue of the attacks of '99, all think that the war is a just war of legitimate self-defense against people of dangerous criminals and terrorists. Those attacks have been ours 11 September: the Russians felt to be attacked in their own homeland, they had fear, and when Putin elevated himself to their defender declaring war on Chechens, all have supported him. And they continue to do so.

According to you, without those attacks, would he have been able to
reach the Kremlin?

No. Or at least not so quickly. It is undeniable: he was the one who could profit from these tragic events. I do not want to say with this that he orchestrated it, but for sure he knew well how to take an advantage from it. Let us say that for him it was a fortunate coincidence. To which many other followed in these years: every
election, every important poll at the Duma was preceded by attacks that led the frightened public opinion to gather around its head.

You have been defined the Russian Michael Moore: do you agree?

Well, in some sense its true: there are similarities between our works. But there is also an enormous difference: in the United States he is encircled and supported by a strong cultural and political environment, that of the democrats who oppose the war and the policy of Bush. I, in Russia, are practically alone, one of the few voices outside a chorus where all praise Putin. In todays Russia there is no opposition.

Which future do you see for a democratic turn in the Kremlin?

No future, unfortunately, at least in the short term. I'm very pessimistic. The only weak opposition forces against the government, let them be left or right, are all of an extremist and ultranationalist nature. The liberal-democratic forces were victims of the war that the Kremlin has triggered against the oligarchs of Yeltsin's era. Putin today remains the only one at the center of the Russian political scene, and he dominates it with such self-assurance of someone who knows to have no rivals. There is no political figure in todays Russia who can challenge him. We hope that this figure will come out before the elections of 2008.

Enrico Piovesana (PeaceReporter)

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