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What Russians Really Think: Interview With Popular Author and Politician Nikolai Starikov

A very mainstream figure in Russia: "Americans would understand our position better if we put a couple hundred missiles in Mexico or Canada."


We mentioned Starikov last week in an article about Russia's favorite political talk show.  An historian, he is an extremely popular author and blogger from St. Petersburg.  Several of his books are current best-sellers.  He is on TV all the time, one of the most visible of a new breed of up-and-coming politicians.  

He recently founded The Great Fatherland Party, a conservative, patriotic party which espouses Christian values.  In an American context, you might compare him to a Marco Rubio, and in Europe... well Europe doesn't really produce this kind of politician.

<figcaption>Conservative talk radio, Russian-style</figcaption>
Conservative talk radio, Russian-style

The thing to understand is that this guy is very mainstream.  He echoes what a majority of Russian elites and public believe.  

Part of his success is that he is very articulate and intellectual.  On TV, he often plays a professorial role, explaining complex subjects in terms people can understand - history, economics, current events.  He has a very reasonable, matter-of-fact, no BS, cut-to-the-chase demeanor, and its a hit with the public.

Here's a typical example where he explains Russian oligarchs at a jammed book-signing in Moscow. (Captions)


If you want to understand what Russia is thinking, and where it is headed, pay attention to this man.

Here are some interesting quotes from the interview:

"Being Russian means serving God.  In the West, it is more of an agreement with God."

"Most State Department officials wouldn't be able to find Ukraine on a map."

"Americans would understand our position better if we put a couple hundred missiles in Mexico or Canada."

"I have no doubt that America is behind the Ukrainian coup.  (Ukraine's leaders) ... are essentially puppets of Washington."

"Russians and Ukrainians are one people .. with slight cultural, culinary and linguistic differences.  ... Ukraine is the cradle of the Russian world."

"In the Russian world, the goal of life is to live by certain morals, such as duty.  Western traditions are more egotistical."

"Russians are ready for compromise, but we are not the ones instigating civil war in Canada or Mexico."

"If Europe and America would tell Ukraine to start negotiating, they would do so immediately..."

(Referring to Ukrainian political leaders)  "If people see Hitler and people who fought alongside Nazis as their idols, can we not call these people Nazis?"

Here's the interview:


You say you are a “nationalist” Russian. Whom do you consider Russian? Are Russian values different from Ukrainian values?

Russians and Ukrainians are one people. 100 years ago there were Great Russians, Little Russians (Ukrainians), and White Russians (Belarussians). These definitions are more appropriate than current designations. It is not offensive to say “Little Russia” because it just means “original,” with Kiev the Russian city from which all of Russia originated.

Starikov at a book-signing in Moscow

Therefore, Ukrainians and Russians are the same people with slight cultural, culinary, and linguistic differences.

Being Russian is not just ethnicity but a specific world view. Overall, there are no separate values between Russians and Ukrainians, who, along with other nationalities comprise a big “Russian world”.

Are there any values that are specific to the Russian world and are different from, say, European or American values?

Yes. The main difference is their goal in life. In the Russian world, the goal of life is to follow certain morals and commonly held values, such as duty. Western traditions are more egotistical, living for oneself. Today’s Western consumer society is a direct result of that.

If I could sum it up, being Russian means serving God. In the West, it is more of an agreement with God.

Is there room for cooperation between these different civilizations?

It is not only possible, but we must find a compromise. The problem, however, is that there needs to be an effort from both sides. There was a search for compromise between 1945 and 1991. Now the West does not want to listen to Russia, it does not want to see Russia on the world map. A good example is current American attempts to pit two parts of the same people [Ukrainians and Russians] against each other.

Russians are ready for a compromise. But we are not the ones instigating civil war in Canada or Mexico.

So what do you think accounts for what you see as anti-Russian American policy?

First, I have no doubt that America is behind the Ukrainian coup, much like the coups in Libya, Syria and other countries, and even in friendly countries like Egypt.

The reasons are the same as the reasons behind World War I and World War II: to weaken competitors and make the dollar—and now keep the dollar— as the only reserve currency.

In our interview with Denis Pushilin (former leader of one of the separatist regions in East Ukraine), he said he would like to see Donetsk as part of a Russian Empire. What are your views on this statement?

I think Mr. Pushilin has a rather narrow view. We must talk not just about Donetsk and Lugansk, but about the entire territory of present-day Ukraine.

This territory is the cradle of the Russian world, and I would like to see Ukraine as a part of it. If certain parts of Ukraine don’t want to be a part of the Eurasian Union or Customs Union, then they can choose to go in another direction. That is what we are talking about when we talk about the federalization of Ukraine. But right now there are attempts to suppress the will of the eastern Ukrainian people with military force. It should be up to the locals to decide which path they take.

How can the conflict in Ukraine be resolved?

There are usually two ways. One is a military victory of one side over the other. The other way is for the two sides to lay down their arms and start negotiating. Right now, the Ukrainian government, which came to power as a result of a coup, is being backed by the West and that is why it has adopted such an inflexible line towards eastern Ukraine.

If Europe and America would tell Ukraine to start negotiating, they would do so immediately because they are essentially puppets of the Washington regime.

If they are Washington’s puppets, why is President Putin calling for dialogue with them?

In order for the bloodshed to stop, you must negotiate with someone. Mr. Putin, along with millions of Russians, considers the current Ukrainian government as simply being amoral politicians. But in order to stop the fighting, we must talk with someone.

What is your opinion on the recent presidential elections in the Ukraine?

I am ready to consider them legitimate as soon as the United States approves of the recent Syrian elections that took place amid a military conflict.

Many experts have suggested that what Russia really wants is a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine, which it could then use to its own advantage. What is your assessment of this claim?

Russia does not want any conflicts on its borders, as they may spill over into Russia. For the United States this is a distant conflict, and most State Department officials cannot find Ukraine on a map.

You have repeatedly referred to the government in Kiev as “fascist.” Besides claims that they are using military force against civilians, what other similarities do you see between Kiev and Nazi Germany?

If people see Hitler and those who fought alongside Nazis as their idols, can we not call these people Nazis?

You are talking about Stepan Bandera [the Ukraine nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union] ?


Can you name some specific organizations or people that you consider “Nazis”?

Right Sector, Svoboda, and anyone who marches through the streets with posters of Bandera.

You have mentioned earlier that only a small minority of people in eastern Ukraine have taken up arms. What accounts for such a small number of those willing to fight?

There is nothing new about this. Even during the Russian civil war, tens of millions of people did not take up arms. Most normal people are usually hesitant to fight, thinking any crisis will just blow over.

And yet the Maidan protests attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

Yes, but I don’t think they all signed up to join Right Sector and went to fight in the East.

We are not talking about military matters, but simply people showing up to express support for their point of view.

There were also two million people who voted for secession in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. There are only about four thousand people who are ready to fight, and those are people who signed up for the Ukrainian National Guard. The Eastern separatists have more people than that.

What is the future of Russia-NATO relations?

I see a future of relations that are courteous and without constant provocations, such as the ones by NATO against Russia. Our American colleagues would understand our position better if we wanted to put a couple hundred missiles in Mexico and Canada. They should remember the rather strong reaction by President John Kennedy to Soviet attempts to put missiles in Cuba.

Those defending NATO expansion say that those countries wanted to be part of NATO.

Okay. But Cuba also wanted to house Soviet missiles voluntarily.

If America did not object to Russian missiles in Cuba, would you support Ukraine joining NATO?

That would be a great trust-building measure on their part, and Russia would feel that America is a friend.

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