Our guest on the podcast this week is the Russian civil society activist now living in Talinn, Estonia, Evgenia Chirikova. Evgenia Chirikova is especially well known for her campaign to save the Khimki Forest and she was leader of Ecological Defence (Ecoborona) in Moscow region. She was also a member of the organizing committee for Strategy 31 and a member of the Coordinating Council of the Russian Opposition. You can learn more about her work today at: activatica.org.
The topics we discuss on the podcast include: the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, public opinion in Estonia about the war, what the West is doing, what needs to be done to help, why things have come to this, the role of Vladimir Putin, prospects for the future.
Our questions to Evgenia include:
- What does the public in Estonia think about the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
- Boris Nemtsov was a great friend of Ukraine and was killed shortly after the annexation of Crimea. Do you think he imagined that would be such a full-scale invasion could occur?
- How do you think Russian civic activists are doing? Many activists are leaving, laws are becoming more repressive. People are being detained and jailed. How do you assess the situation for Russian civil society?
- Why do you think Putin decided to take this extraordinary step of invading a neighbouring country?
- How is the West reacting? Are the EU and the U.S. doing enough? What is the impact of economic sanctions?
- What should the general public in the West do?
- How will Putin’s regime change as a result of this war? Is there a possibility that the regime will not survive?
- What do you think will happen in the coming days and weeks in Ukraine and Russia?
- How do you see the future of human rights activism in Russia, what awaits the country and the world?
You can listen to the podcast in full here:
For your convenience we have also divided the podcast into four parts that you can listen to separately.
Part One: Public opinion in Estonia about the Russian invasion of Ukraine; Boris Nemstov and a war with Ukraine; the situation in Russia for civil society activists:
Part Two: Why Putin decided to invade Ukraine; how the West has reacted; what members of the public can do:
Part Three: What happens after the war ends; is there a chance the regime may collapse:
Part Four: What happens if the regime remains after the war; the impact of propaganda on public opinion:
Sergei Nikitin writes on Facebook: “It pains me very much that right now some kind of universal evil is coming from Russia, from my homeland,” says Russian civil society activist Evgenia Chirikova, who moved to Estonia several years ago and found an hour to talk with Simon Cosgrove and me. Zhenya says from Tallinn, where she now lives: “We need to help refugees, we need to do a lot of organisational work.” Zhenya told us that when asked “Who is to blame for this” her answer is that we tried to stop Putin with all our might. But we had a very weak civil society that had been decimated during the preceding decades of totalitarianism. “People of my generation – we were actually the first to try to organize movements, to resist unfair elections. But we also saw the cooperation of Western politicians with Putin, a kind of Schröderization of the West. They were feeding Putin.” In our conversation Zhenya Chirikova recalled speeches she made in the European Parliament and in the British Parliament where she asked the Western countries not to buy oil and gas from Putin, not to support this corrupted regime. “People laughed at me, said it was real politik. It turns out that we raised this monster together with the West, and now we all have to clean it up together.We live in a new world, where Russia bans slogans like “No to War” and Germany rescues Ukrainians who have fled from Russian bombs. And people like Zhenya Chirikova in this new world continue to do what they have dedicated their lives to: fighting for justice and helping people.