- Famous Russian writer Alexander Prokhanov gives a rundown of the 2015 Valdai Club meeting in Sochi which he attended
- A very informative read to understand more about what kind of a man the Russian president is, how he thinks and where he stands
This article was originally published at Izvestia. Translated by Svetlana Kyrzhaly
The Valdai club is a regular meeting of 'Wise' people who come from all over the world to discuss global politics. Each of them brings his grain of knowledge to the common fund, and then all thoughtfully reason whether there will be another 'World War'. And in what directions does the world roller coaster move? Who will be under this 'roller coaster': China, Russia or Europe?
On this occasion, the Valdai club gathered in near Sochi, in the beautiful Krasnaya Polyana, high in the mountains, where a magnificent resort has been built, at which the representatives of the world G8 were to be accommodated. However, G8 split and the hotels, conference halls, mountain roads, tunnels, divinely beautiful Caucasus mountains, covered with snow and gilded with autumn woods - but they did not attend and the Valdai club got to experience it. And God knows, we enjoyed it.
The hall was filled with political scientists, professors, well-known cultural specialists, retired diplomats. The highbrow speakers sat in chairs on illuminated podium, and each of them expounded his theories, a vision of this or that, which became the topical issue for ten minutes. How close did we come to nuclear war? How are information links used to deceive the people in the modern world, enveloped with billion dollar communications systems? How does modern diplomacy seek to harmonize a thousand interests? Is it going to bring these interests to agreement or to the "last blast"? How does the world economy, which once proclaimed a holistic global market, is now split into pieces, like an overripe melon?
There were a lot of these separate sessions, a lot of coffee was drunk. We exchanged a lot of sweet smiles and handshakes. Questions were heard from the audience, which the leading characters on the podium answered. And there was a quiet, smooth monotonous rustling, like which an anthill creates, or where everyone pulls a needle fir, or feather, or almost dead larva in a common house. There was something entomological in the meticulous, cautious approach to this acute global drama. Like when entomologists pierce an unfolded precious butterfly with needles.
The world is filled with explosions. Our intellectuals treated with these explosions not like deminers, but like third-party contemplatives, separated from its fire with shields and filters. An exception to this was the appearance of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and head of the Kremlin administration. Sergei Ivanov on the podium - it seemed a live powerful radiation came from him. And the audience, consisting of physiognomists, psychologists, and perhaps former or current intelligence officers, tried not to hear the words, they didn’t say, unspoken threats, unnamed fears.
And here was the last, the final chord of the Valdai meeting, for which the rant was prolonged in the preceding days - the emergence of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. As sometimes the shrill voice of the bird is heard in the quiet rustle of the wind, so the Putin's speech sounded like the rustling of leaves at the Valdai discussions.
He came accompanied by major political figures from the past, and they sat around the President as minor musicians sit near the soloist. Putin was bright, swift, paradoxical, his short speech resembled his recent speech at the United Nations. Former prime ministers, ambassadors,high level diplomats, sat on both sides, and reacted to this seething speech. Putin was brilliantly parrying the minor criticisms of these ambassadors and ministers. He was bringing these sly people into the light. He was decrypting their vague cryptograms.
The former United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Mr Matlock cunningly tried to convince everyone that the Cold War ended under Gorbachev before the collapse of the USSR and the USA didn’t lead the process of the collapse. And blame for the decay of the country was on internal reasons and the chief director of the collapse was President Yeltsin. Matlock argued that this destruction was quite painless and didn’t cause any suffering to the people of the Soviet Union.
Putin retorted with bitterness and exasperation, repeated that the destruction of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe and the Russian people became the largest divided people on Earth. Soviet citizens, who were scattered among the newly created states, experienced a whole nightmare of deprivation and injustice.
Putin parried comments from another American, who said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union the Western policy towards Russia was no more than an attempt to bring democratic institutions to our borders. Putin vigorously denied this deception, said that tanks, planes and missiles of NATO came close to the Russia's borders, as recently these "democratic institutions" of America and Europe, full of explosives and deadly weapons, came close to the borders of Libya, Iraq and Syria.
For the first time Putin so clearly and profoundly identified fundamental metaphysical differences between East and West that underlie in the basis of age-old feuds. He said that in the depths of Russian world-consciousness were the themes of God, good and evil, allegations of the principle of divine justice on Earth. And the West is only concerned with economic interests, and rational view of life.
Continuing from Putin's idea, we can say that not only problems of power, geopolitics and resources are the basis of the confrontation between the East and West, but also the great semantic categories. Russian consciousness tends to the ideal, the ideal being, to the divine harmony of life that is an eternal reproach to the rational and pragmatic West. And it, couldn’t endure this reproach, it answers with the invasions of Napoleon, Hitler or NATO bases near the Russian borders.
Syria, the Ukraine, the countries of Central Asia are these ranges, which, according to Putin, are fiery dots of competing interests. And the meaning of Russian politics is to find a reconciliation of interests. And there, where these interests can’t be conciliated, where global terrorism dominates, Russia would use military force, as it does in Syria.
The Valdai forum ended with a farewell banquet. The members of the Valdai club flew away, each to his own side, as pigeons, carrying knowledge, gained in Russia, in their tidy beaks.