Zhanna Nemtsova: Pushkin's ban is a secondary problem compared to the death of people

Zhanna Nemtsova: Compared to the deaths of people, Pushkin's ban is a second-order problem

After the murder of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, his daughter Zhanna went abroad. Today she lives in Lisbon, runs the Foundation and the School of Journalism named after her father. Zhanna condemns Russia's aggression against Ukraine and wishes our country victory.

“KP in Ukraine” discussed the topic of the ban on Russian culture in Ukraine, the prophetic statements of her father and the personality of Sergei Kiriyenko, who oversees Donbass in the Kremlin.< /p>

No one is counting on protests anymore

– Zhanna, where were you when Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24? Did you expect such a development of events?

– Expected. She warned her friends 10 days in advance that there would probably be a war and that she needed to be in a safe place.

– And what prompted you to this conclusion?

< p>– I read a lot of Western experts, talked to people I trust. Of course they didn't know 100%. And from general considerations – Russia pulled up huge forces to the border of Ukraine, some incomprehensible exercises took place, all this was accompanied by ultimatum diplomacy from the Russian Foreign Ministry, the language of threats was heard, the stakes were constantly raised … Under such conditions and knowing that Putin greatly appreciates the image of a strong leader, I didn't see a good step back for him.

But I was sure that the Ukrainian people would resist – I spoke about this in an interview with an American publication. It's not that I'm a great forecaster, but I got the feeling. Nevertheless, on the eve of the war, she went home: she wanted to visit her grandmother, present her book “My Father's Daughter”, which miraculously came out in Russia in early 2022. And when she learned from her husband about the beginning of the war, she immediately flew away.

What did I feel? I experienced a state of shock. You can know about the coming storm, but when it starts, you are still terrified. You realize that there is little you can do to stop it. This is a nightmare, a very big tragedy is happening through the fault of the Putin regime.

– Something in Russia today can stop the war? Why don't Russians take to the streets to protest?

– In my opinion, no one expects a protest. I would like this to happen, but a street protest does not always lead to the overthrow of the regime. In Ukraine, he brought in 2013, but in Venezuela in 2019 – no. Russia is becoming more and more repressive every year. The repressions were unprecedented in 2021 – let's not forget about the rallies in support of Navalny and the open criminal cases in connection with this. There are very, very many of them, people were greatly intimidated.

I am not a military expert, but it seems to me that only the victory of Ukraine will stop the war: Ukraine can stop the war once and for all. I have always said and continue to say that I wish Ukraine victory in this war.

Pushkin will suffer a little

– Our Alexei Arestovich says that now the war is going on for the succession of Kyiv and for the answer to the question “who are we?”. He believes that regardless of the power in Russia, the threat of war will always exist, because Kyiv is outside of Russia. What do you think about this?

– It is useless to argue here, because this is a value judgment. You can find arguments “for”, you can find arguments “against”. A different explanation is closer to me – the war in Ukraine is connected with Putin's personal idea that the former countries of the USSR should be under his control. First of all, these are Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Armenia. Putin acts on the basis of the historical paradigm of the USSR, the country in which he was born and raised. It seems to him that he should be the main one in Eurasia. This is how I see it.

However, both the view of Alexei Arestovich and my view are value judgments. The main thing is that there is a war, people are dying. Because of Kievan Rus or not, why the hell is this happening? However, I do not believe that under any leader, Russia will be at war with Ukraine.

– With the beginning of the war, hatred grows: Ukrainians towards Russians, Russians towards Ukrainians…

– By the way, I don't see that Russians' hatred towards Ukrainians is growing. Those who support this war believe they are fighting NATO. They are fighting so that NATO does not come close to the Russian borders – this is what they are told on Putin's TV. Many emphasize that they treat Ukrainians well.

And on the part of Ukrainians, hatred, intolerance, unwillingness to communicate is growing – and I understand this. Until February 24, people in many regions of Ukraine lived in peace, built their lives, careers, and now they must flee to other countries. Their relatives are being killed – I can understand their hatred. There are a lot of refugees from Ukraine in Europe, they cannot live the same life here as in their own country. It's very hard. Hate is natural, I don't understand how it could be otherwise.

– After everything that Russia has done in Ukraine, the phrase is increasingly heard: there are no good Russians. This is reflected in many areas: the renaming of streets, the exclusion of Russian authors from the school curriculum, etc. This is probably a shame for those who do not support the war.

– It seems to me that these are problems of the second order compared to the death of people. Pushkin will suffer a little, I'm not very concerned about his fate in Ukraine. In general, I will not judge the leadership of a country that is at war with Russia, and publicly discuss whether they are doing the right thing or not. It would be incorrect on my part.

– Is this hatred for a long time?

– I think it will take decades to overcome it. Much will depend on Russia's actions. From whether an honest conversation about what happened, the condemnation of the crimes committed, the trial of the criminals will begin. But some percentage of Ukrainians will never want to do business with Russians.

Zhanna Nemtsova: Compared to the deaths of people, Pushkin's ban is a second-order problem

Zhanna Nemtsova. Photo: Alexey Todosko

My father admitted that he is not very good at understanding people

– You talked with Marina Ovsyannikova and Alexander Nevzorov. How do you feel about their activities?

– I personally do not know one or the other and do not follow their activities. However, I think that Ovsyannikova sincerely went on air with the poster on Channel One. But I don't know what Nevzorov is doing.

– Is the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov still going on today?

– What are you talking about?! Of course not! It continues purely formally, but there is no actual investigation. It was planned to punish the perpetrators, but it was not planned to punish the organizers and establish a motive for the murder. This is Russia, political murders are not investigated there. Are they going to do something against themselves?

– Sergei Kiriyenko, who is “watching” Donbas today, was brought into politics by Boris Nemtsov. Why did it happen so? Perhaps you remember what Kiriyenko was like?

– In the 90s, Kiriyenko was the chairman of the board of the Nizhny Novgorod bank Garantiya, and in 1997 his father really invited him to the government. But then the decision-makers liked Kiriyenko, and they appointed him prime minister. I don't think my father was happy about it. Kiriyenko in 1999 was one of the leaders of the liberal party “Union of Right Forces”. At that time, parliamentary elections were taking place, and the democratic movements formed the SPS electoral bloc. My father's “Young Russia” movement, Kiriyenko's “New Force”, Yegor Gaidar's “Democratic Choice” joined forces, and the Union of Right Forces party got into parliament.

I saw Kiriyenko several times, and I there was no feeling that some kind of transformation had taken place from a liberal politician to an authoritarian politician and a person representing the “party of war” in the Kremlin. Kiriyenko has a Komsomol past, he has always been in power, and he remains with it. Yes, at some point, the father thought that this person could be worked with, but this idea quickly disappeared.

I don't remember any friendship between Kiriyenko and my father. My father was to some extent a benevolent person and sometimes admitted that he was not very good at understanding people. And this is just such a case. Be that as it may, Kiriyenko's entire current career is in no way connected with the activities of my father.

“Putin is war and crisis”

– Zhanna, today many people are posting in social networks, your father's statements about Putin and Ukraine. It feels like he foresaw the war.

– In Ukraine, many of my father's speeches have become viral (spread in the information environment at a high speed. – Auth.) and popular. Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko in private conversations with me does not get tired of admiring the gift of foresight of my father. In the last conversation I called him Nostradamus – I don’t even know if this is a compliment or not.

I agree, my father has a lot of statements that are relevant today. Maybe not the most famous, but the shortest sounded like this: “Putin is war and crisis.”

My father was a categorical opponent of the annexation of Crimea, wrote a long post about it. By the way, when Crimea was annexed, my father was imprisoned. Despite a 10-day administrative arrest, he managed to dictate a post on the phone called “Ten theses about Crimea.”

The father is one of the very few Russian politicians who has spoken out against Putin's war with Ukraine. Gathered large anti-war rallies in Russia – in 2014, more than 50 thousand people took to the streets of Moscow. What was happening then in the Donbass, he called the war and did not use any other terms.

Shortly before his assassination, his father began to write a report “Putin. War”. Unfortunately, he did not have time to finish it. One of the reasons for writing a concise report was the appeal of the relatives of the dead paratroopers from Ivanovo – they could not receive compensation from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation due to the fact that the official status of the servicemen was incomprehensible. They were simply dismissed from the army and sent to Ukraine: then the authorities tried to hide the participation of the regular army in the military conflict in the Donbass. My father was going to publish the report in a million copies and distribute it in different cities of Russia.

– Boris Efimovich said: “If we leave the streets, they will tighten the screws,” referring to the authorities in Russia. Looks like it happened.

– Probably, this statement was related to the protests on Bolotnaya Square, caused by fraud in the parliamentary elections in 2011 and the arrival of Putin for the 3rd term as president. How much tougher Russian legislation is today compared to 2012! In connection with the war between Russia and Ukraine, a new article appeared in the Criminal Code – “discrediting the Russian armed forces.” Absolutely any anti-war statement – and you fall under the article of the Criminal Code! It can be “No to war”, dots on a piece of paper instead of these words, even just a blank sheet. This may be enough for a 10-year sentence. Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., who was the head of the Nemtsov council until 2021, is now being tried under this article: he spoke about the war in Ukraine to the deputies of the Arizona state parliament.

Russia today is an incredibly repressive state! I'm not talking about the laws on foreign agents, undesirable organizations, the liquidation of “Memorial” (International historical, educational, human rights society, created to study political repressions in the USSR. – Auth.).

But as for Ukraine: if you condemn Russia's military aggression, you will most likely go to jail. A lot of criminal cases have been opened on this occasion, more than 50 already, and I think there will be more. So people who oppose the war are, of course, afraid. Many left Russia.

– Did you go to Russia after the war? Not scared?

– Now I do not go to Russia, and when I was, it seemed that nothing threatened me. By the way, I participated in rallies in support of Alexei Navalny, then it seemed that it was not so dangerous. It is very difficult to predict whether it is dangerous for you to be in Russia or not. The actions of the authorities in relation to people are not very clear to me: there is no system. But I always speak frankly: I am not ready to sit in prison for a single day! Neither 10 nor 15 days. I value freedom very much.

Children from Ukraine will come to Nemtsov's school

– Tell us about the Boris Nemtsov Summer School, which teaches journalism. Who can learn there, how long has it been in existence?

– This year will be 5 years. The enrollment has already ended, but in general, anyone who speaks Russian and wants to work in journalism can apply for participation. Education at the school is free. This year we already had one school in Athens – I invited the guys who studied online because of the pandemic. Another school will start soon in Prague.

– What do they teach there?

– Journalism in all its manifestations. We teach how to create media formats – photo stories, videos, podcasts, texts; we talk about different journalistic genres and the basics of media management. Our school has gained a good reputation not only in Russia, but also in Ukraine and Belarus. This year, citizens of Ukraine will come to study with us – and that's good.

– How to get to you?

– We hold an open competition in the spring months of each year. We have a professional jury that conducts the selection. Not only I determine who will study and who will not. However, I am on the jury, I have 1 vote. We can’t get into a school through an acquaintance: there must be a competition, honest and open. Competition is the key to success.

Zhanna Nemtsova: Compared to death Pushkin's ban on people is a problem of the second order

Zhanna Borisovna Nemtsova KP dossier

She was born on March 26, 1984 in Nizhny Novgorod.

In 1998, she got a job as an assistant news presenter at the Ekho Moskvy radio station ”.

In 2011-2015. – presenter of analytical programs on the RBC TV channel.

In June 2015, after the murder of her father and threats, she left for Germany.

In 2015-2019. worked in the German media company Deutsche Welle, hosted the author's program “Nemtsov. Interview.”

Since 2020, Zhanna has devoted herself entirely to the Boris Nemtsov Foundation. One of the largest projects implemented within its framework is the Summer School of Journalism at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University in Prague.

Today Zhanna lives in Lisbon, Portugal.

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