Nikolai Shchur answers our 10 questions

23 February 2023

by Nikolai Shchur

Rights in Russia is asking a number of human rights activists, commentators and experts ten questions. You can read their answers here.

1)      Was there a real opportunity in the 1990s to create a democratic state based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Russia? If so, what went wrong?

There was an opportunity. But there were not enough people capable of building democracy in Russia and willing to do so. The people are cowardly, uneducated, undemanding (vodka and potatoes are all they need), and the intelligentsia is stupid and vain. That’s why everything went as it did.

2)      How would you characterise the different roles of Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin in these years?

Gorbachev was vain, uncultured, poorly educated – a typical party functionary, under the heel of his lady-wife. Stupid, cowardly, and in love with himself. By definition he was incapable of creating anything, so he ruined the country.

Yeltsin was an intellectually limited alcoholic who loved the good life. He was a rentier. He gave up the economy to young thieves. They finished the job of ruining it and taking as much as they could.

Putin is a hoodlum, a common thug with gold teeth. Pathologically stupid. An absolute fascist by conviction. A psychopath. He didn’t get the throne for himself – he was put on it by others.

3)      What has been the role of the FSB in post-Soviet Russia?

The FSB is ‘our everything.’

4)      To what extent does Russia’s ‘imperial’ past explain its failure to become a democracy?

The reason for the failure is not the imperial past, but the monarchical dictatorship. The main thing is our citizens’ total illiteracy, especially the intelligentsia – stupid to the point of shamelessness. And the policy of the sovereigns has been the same for centuries: to keep the population in the dark.

5)      What is the main reason Russia invaded Ukraine again on 24 February 2022?

The answer is simple: a yobs’ anger. Putin and company are outraged by the outstanding and colourful personalities of Zelensky and his team. There were and are no other reasons. The Kremlin does not think in geopolitical categories – they are beyond them. That sounds strange, but that’s how it is: there are no ‘imperial’ reasons for this war – just the usual anger of yobs.

6)      What do you predict will be the outcome of the war? What will be the consequences if Russia is able to make further territorial gains as a result of the war? What will be the consequences for the Putin regime if Russia is defeated in the war? What are the chances of bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice?

I think the outcome will be simple: Russia will be kicked out of all the territory of Ukraine, and then everything will remain as it was. The power structure in Russia won’t change – it is too much in the West’s interests as things stand. Russia will not acquire any new territories. Putin will be replaced by Navalny, most likely. 0, 0000001% of the criminals who supported and made possible the war will be brought to justice – token victims.

7)      Why has the Putin regime closed down Memorial, the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Sakharov Centre? What is left of civil society in Russia today?

But why should they stand on ceremony with these organisations? While all of them – with the possible exception of the Sakharov Centre – used to be loyal to the government (especially MHG with its provocateur Alekseeva), they have now become the opposition. So they closed them down. There has never been a civil society in Russia and there is no civil society now.

8)      What do you think will happen to Aleksei Navalny in the future? And other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience such as Ilya Yashin and Dmitry Talantov?

Navalny is an FSB officer working under the guise of someone who pretends to be ‘in opposition.’ Those in power have been preparing him and are preparing him to replace Putin. He is an ordinary fascist. Ilya Yashin is political kitsch, a PR nonentity. As for Dmitry Talantov, I can say he is a moral person, unlike Navalny and Yashin. But he has no future at the moment either. And I am not referring to the situation at the present moment, when Putin is president, but after that. With the Russian public saturated with fascist ideas, there will be no demand for people like Talantov (along with Kara-Murza and other principled opponents of the regime). That is why they will be released from prison, but they will not be able to make any breakthrough to have any role in government.

9)      Russia has left the Council of Europe. Is there a chance Russia will return to this international body in the future?

Yes, it will return. When the West decides that it must. This is not for Russia to decide. Just as Russia is not in charge of this war. Russia is a tool that the West uses for its own dark purposes. If the West had wanted, it would have stopped this war within two weeks. And it wouldn’t have launched it. This does not absolve Russia of blame, of course. Nor the West, either.

10)   In terms of human rights, how much worse can things get in Russia? How do you see the future of Russia?

Human rights have not become less respected in Russia, for the reason they have never been respected at all. Well, yes, the regime has become tougher, but not fundamentally different. The future of Russia is not Newton’s Binomial Theorem: Putin’s government will fall (when the West wants it to, because it’s the West that created and now supports it), but the regime will remain. For a short time, while the new people who come to power are fighting each other and redistributing property, the country will breathe a little easier (another ‘thaw’), but then everything will revert again to how it has been: the strengthening of the security forces, the army, theft of the budget, ‘patriotism,’ revanche… And the West, meanwhile, will pump resources out of Russia. And scare their person-in-the-street with the idea of the Russian bear. When the USSR collapsed and the years of relaxation began, Tatyana [Shchur] was in the U.S. on the Nuclear Cities Initiative. The Americans were despondent that the nuclear arms race and the military confrontation between the West and Russia had stopped.

That is the answer to all your questions. Alas.

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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