27 February 2008
A World Security Institute Project
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February 18, 2008
Interview with Itogi Magazine
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Dear colleagues and forum participants,
As a popular saying goes, in
no ways of protecting yourself against ill
fortune; now it seems there are also no ways of
protecting yourself from the presidency. People
in the know have long confirmed that you, Dmitry
Anatolyevich, will sit in the exalted halls of
the Kremlin, and you always denied this, saying
that all you found interesting were the national projects...
First of all, I am not the President of Russia,
merely a presidential candidate. Secondly,
overseeing the national projects is something I
have been devoted to for more than two years.
Finally, thirdly, the Russian proverb you quoted
is true. It is the quintessence of folk wisdom:
live your life well but remember that one is
never safe from misfortune and trouble. Even
though I wasn't feigning anything when I said
that I wasnt planning to take on the position of
head of state. Of course, as each person chooses
a path in life they must have an ultimate goal in
mind. A career is just such an instance. The
lieutenant thinks about one day receiving a
marshal's baton, and if one chooses an
administrative and political career then it is
natural to want to climb the ladder as high as
possible. But this linear process is more
difficult in reality. When I moved
1999 I could not have imagined that in eight
years I would be running for president.
When did you first hear this word in relation to you?
Everything became clearer last December after
consultations with the leaders of major political
parties and an in-depth and detailed discussion
with Vladimir Putin. What I had done in the
Kremlin administration until November 2005 fell
into the category of behind closed doors
activities. My duties changed in the White House.
We are all a little bit presumptuous, and I
considered myself a person ready for any type of
work, since I had the chance to work in academy,
business, law and the civil service. However, the
new work experience was difficult to compare with
previous ones. The President rightly warned me:
«You cannot even imagine how much your point of
view will change.» And this was how it turned out.
And then there were two participants in the race you and Sergey Ivanov.
No one held castings or primaries. It was
different: at some point Vladimir Vladimirovich
decided to put forward certain actors who had not
previously been in the public view and make them
active participants in the political field. I am
not talking about myself, but I noticed this with
regards to my colleagues: the new appointments
and transfers proved very successful.
Did you worry about whether you could carry the load?
Of course. I thought about that ever since I
interesting work, a successful business, and an
established life. I was engaged in the field of
law and felt that I was financially secure,
realizing myself as a professional. I came to the
capital in complete ignorance. True, it took me
just a bit of time to understand that this was a
completely different situation, on a totally
different scale! In the civil service there are a
lot of defects and limitations, but there is one
undeniable quality. The knowledge that the
decisions you take can affect the lives of
millions of people makes you evaluate every step
you take or word you say differently. I repeat
that this is another degree of responsibility
and, therefore, another degree of
self-realisation. Such a feeling doesn't exist
even when working for a very large business.
Especially since after the 2000 elections I
started to work for Gazprom in addition to the
work in the Kremlin. As a corporate lawyer, this
experience was extremely interesting for me. In
short, I became quickly convinced that I had made
the correct choice but I was still concerned
about my family, ensuring that my son would have
a normal childhood, and convincing my wife that her life would not get worse.
What arguments did you try?
I said that we had received an interesting
What was Svetlana Vladimirovna
The same thing as now: bringing up our son,
establishing and maintaing a home. This is
difficult and responsible work. I say this
without a hint of irony. Sveta graduated from the
Voznesensky Institute of Finance and Economics in
different places, then went on maternity leave
and gave birth to Ilya. I then said that she
shouldn't go back to work but should bring up our child.
What to do about it? This is normal logic for a
man, who wishes to have a solid and reliable rear
guard behind. Of course, from time to time Sveta
did say that it would be good to find some
additional activity, but I explained that in my
opinion it is better for the family if the wife stays at home.
How long have you been together?
We have known each other since seventh grade.
You figure it out. You know how old I am and I am
not going to tell you my wife's age: you can
guess yourself. We studied for ten years in the
305th school in
bright, warm memories of those years. Even though
the school was a normal one, and not very
prestigious, many of its graduates went to
university. From my graduating year 80 per cent
entered university at the first try.
And you lived in Kupchino at the time? Not a
very prestigious area of
True, but it was a newly-built modern
residential neighbourhood. At that time many
Petersburgers would have been happy to trade a
room in a crowded communal apartment on the Moika
[River] or Nevsky [Prospect] for their own,
albeit small, apartment on the city outskirts. My
father, who taught at the Lensovet Technological
Institute was given a slightly improved version
of a Khrushchev-era apartment with a small
kitchen and a separate bathroom, something which
was considered desirable at the time. The total
area was something like forty square metres. Not
much, to be honest. But I lived there for almost
thirty years and even managed to write a Ph.D.
thesis there and not feel depressed or
embarassed. Then I bought my first apartment. It
was a three-room apartment in the Moscovsky
district of St.Petersburg which was considered to
be an elite area. I remember the happiness I
experienced at the time was incredible, absolutely unique
Tell us a little more about your family Dmitry Anatolyevich.
I already told you that I am a third-generation
city dweller, but my grandfathers and
grandmothers lived in rural areas. Before the
Revolution Afanasy Fedorovich Medvedev was a
peasant and then had a mid-level career in the
party; he worked in the regional committee and
Party of the
my father's mother was, curiously enough, born in
in the revolution and fate sent the orphan to a
children's home in the
her future husband. They were married at age 17
and remained happily married until old age. They
had four children, two of whom survived - my
father and his sister. My father passed away at
age 77 and my aunt is still alive
and lives in
My mothers relatives were from the
province and did, as they say, live up to their
name. My grandfather's name was Venjamin
Sergeyevich Shaposhnikov [literally hat-maker]
and his father - my great-grandfather - was a
furrier, and made hats. My second
great-grandfather, Vasily Aleksandrovich Kovalev,
worked as a blacksmith. Many believed that he
looked like the last Russian Tsar and now with
Photoshop's help my picture is sometimes being
made to look more like Nikolai the Second My
grandmother Melaniya Vasilevna was, in fact, a
housewife who was devoted to her family and to
bringing up daughters, though she did receive a higher education in economics.
Mama was born in the city Alekseyevka in the
with honours, but their careers somehow didn't
take off. Mama went to graduate school in
already defended his Ph.D. degree and was
teaching at the Technological Institute. My
father had a room in a communal apartment on
Ligovka [Street] and my parents lived there at
the beginning. Then I was born and my mother left
graduate school and took care of my upbringing.
Later on she started working and taught Russian
as a foreign language in the Herzen Institute,
worked as a school teacher and even a tour guide
listening to her stories about Russian history
and being proud that I had such a clever mother.
I love Pavlovsk. For several years we rented a
seasonal house there because, unfortunately, we
never had our own dacha. I normally spent a
couple of months outside the city then went with
my parents to see our relatives in
then even further, to the sea. We stayed in
Gelendzhik. I have memories of the fruit, growing
right in the streets, from these first trips to
the south. I had never seen plums, apples and
pears hanging from the trees in
an amazing sight for people from the north! But I
must confess that I didn't like beach vacations.
It's boring to spend the whole day lying on your
back in the sun! Besides, at the beginning you
had to search for a free place in the sun. In
short it was deadly boring rather than a
vacation! In general, I grew up playing outside
and spent a lot of time in the streets.
In what sense?
Nothing criminal, normal boyhood fun. I know
that some of my peers in
earn their first wages by selling black market
badges and matrioshka to foreigners, but I wasn't
involved in this. Foreign tourists didn't come
round to the outskirts of town where we lived. I
had quite enough to do in my place of residence.
Did you smoke or drink?
Not to excess. I tried it, like everyone else,
and no more. No one smoked at home, and therefore
I got never addicted. Also my parents were always
very measured when drinking alcohol, and it is
well-known that a lot is passed on to successive
generations, both the bad and the good. As they
grow up children begin to copy their parents. My
wife blames me sometimes for bringing my son up
too liberally. I reply that I also grew up
without receiving any severe punishment. The most
was that up to age seven I had to sometimes stand
in the corner I don't consider that using a belt
or physical force are the best ways of persuasion.
Are you your mother's son or your father's?
As a child, of course, I was attached to my
mama. Then there was a time when I saw that I was
trying to copy my father. He taught me dedicated
service to the cause that you've chosen and a
love of reading. Today it is true that I rarely
get beyond page ten in any novel. No time to read
for myself, just more and more work-related
reading! And my father had a huge library of
scientific and technical literature including
fiction and a ten-volume edition of the Small
Soviet Encyclopedia. I remember that I started to
study it in grade three. I looked at the maps,
the drawings of animals, read some biographies.
Did you find any other Medvedevs?
Just a few a partisan hero, a scientist My
father continued to teach until he was almost 70,
he was immersed in science. Once he retired he
lived with mama in the same apartment in Kupchino
that they received in 1968. I convinced my
parents to move with me to
that my father had yet another heart attack. He
passed away in 2004. I consider that my father
had a happy life: he was able to realize himself
in his profession and was proud of my successes.
What could be more important for parents? After
his passing I did not let mama go
[Photo from the Medvedyev family archive: Kovalev
family house (on Dmitry Anatoleyvich's mother's
side) in the city of
Do you see each other often?
At the very least we speak on the phone every day.
Svetlana's parents are in
maiden name is Linnik. Thanks to brotherly
I heard that you were baptized as an adult?
At age twenty-three. I took the decision
myself. The sacrament took place at one of St
friend. I think that it marked the beginning of a
new life for me I would suggest stopping there:
it's too personal to go into the details.
You give the impression of being a very closed person.
Really? But I know why that is. I have a legal
way of thinking, which has pluses and minuses.
Dignity consists in the ability to correctly
formulate your goals. This helps in making
decisions. The disadvantage lies in the fact that
often I say and explain more precisely than is
sometimes needed. Because of this, you might feel
as if I am Mr Dry-as-Dust, all buttoned up.
That means that spin-doctors and stylists are not doing their work.
There are no such people in my surroundings.
And there never were. Maybe this is bad but that's the way it was.
Now we'll try to fill in the gaps. Did you have a nickname as a child?
I was never a large person so I was never
nicknamed Medved' [Bear] or Medved [translator's
note: animated bear on the Russian internet]. I
was called Dima. As of age seven after school I
disappeared into the street, did little homework,
but this didn't often affect my marks. Then there were sports.
Paddling a one-man kayak. Even though I would
not say that I made enormous strides. I got
physically stronger. At the beginning I couldn't
do a couple of chin-ups and then I became school
champion in this exercise. After rowing there was
track and field and in university I switched to
strength-training. Not for the sake of records
but to keep fit and to get credits for PE.
And did sports prevent you from doing well in school?
In seventh grade Sveta came into my life and I
stopped caring about school. It was much more fun
to walk with my future wife then to sit with my textbooks.
Did you live near one another?
Our houses were about half a kilometre away
from one another. And school was about the same
distance away. I came to my senses in grade ten
when I realised that I had to do something about
the situation. I brought my grades up and
finished with quite a decent diploma that allowed
me to apply to
When did you earn your first dollar, Dmitry Anatolyevich?
Here is the story. In general, our family
wealth was very average. In the sense that we
didn't starve though we had little money. I
clearly remember how this affected my birthday
which was at the beginning of September and, by
strange coincidence, still is. At the end of
August we came back from the south and each time
my parents would warn me that we had spent our
money over the holidays and there was almost
nothing left for birthday money. Dima, do not
expect anything special, they would say. This
happened from year to year and I got used to it
and didn't expect anything. However, there were
two things that I wanted very badly. Jeans and
LPs. And my parents could not buy me either. Real
Wrangler or Levi's jeans were available on the
black market for a couple of hundred rubles, and
an average teacher's salary was a hundred and
twenty rubles. And real vinyls were very
expensive. I remember dreaming about a double
album that had just come out, Pink Floyd's The
Wall, but two hundred rubles were an astronomical amount for me at the time
And I earned my first money after grade eight. I
did an internship in a mechanical repair factory
and worked as an apprentice to a mechanic. There
I honestly earned a ten ruble bill. I had never
held such wealth in my hands before! If my
parents gave me pocket money then they gave me
fifty kopecks or a ruble. And here were ten at
once! I called my friends, we caught a taxi and
went to Nevsky [Prospect]. We drove up to the
cinema in style, went to the counter and bought
the most expensive tickets for the evening show
for 70 kopecks! We then went on to consume
industrial quantities of ice cream. After the
film we took a taxi home again. The ten ruble
bill got used up quickly, but the memories remain
And how did a future chemist turn into a lawyer rather than a poet?
Yes, I had a friend with whom I loved to play
the chemist. That was before Misha left for a
sports school and fate divided us.
Do not worry, it will bring you together again.
I can assure you that now many of your friends from school will reappear.
As long as they don't make things up. I don't want to read lies about myself
But about chemistry. My aunt from
me some beakers and test tubes and after school
Misha and I went home and conducted experiments.
Many different ones, and they were sometimes
dangerous for our health. As a minimum, the
inorganic materials that resulted from the
experiments smelled badly, but they could also be poisonous.
I imagine you were constructing a bomb?
Nothing military! We were testing our knowledge
through experiments. I always liked chemistry and
my father suggested that I study with him at the
Technological Institute or another technical
university. I even spent half a year at the
Military Mechanical Institute where I studied
mathematics and physics. Frankly, I was not
particularly impressed by the prospects but there
seemed to be no other choice. And then I began to
think: what if I followed in my mother's
footsteps? I vacillated between the philological
and legal faculties. In the end, I opted for the latter.
A buddy-system department!
Yes, the law faculty of
University was always popular among applicants
but it became prestigious relatively recently.
Thanks to some of its graduates.
Including them. Remember what people wanted to
be in the early 1980s? Physicians, technicians in
the defense industry, officers. They valued an
education that would guarantee a large, stable
salary (according to Soviet standards, of
course). Back in
were quite popular, because they were often sent
for training to the other side of the iron
curtain. There were faculties that were very much
career-oriented, such as philosophy, history or
oriental studies. But they accepted almost no
high school graduates because they preferred guys
who had served in the army or worked in industry.
The law faculty represented the golden mean.
Were you accepted the first time you applied?
In the full-time course I didn't quite get the
marks I needed and I was put into the evening
course. I worked for a year in the laboratory for
my father at the Technological Institute. I
remember the first computer we had there. The
machine was called M-6000 and it resembled a
typical Soviet wall cabinet. My task was to fill
the computer with punch cards and to insert
magnetic disks. I spent the rest of the time
reading theories of the state and law which
allowed me to do well in the first two sessions
and to become a full-time student as of second year.
What about the army?
I finished school at age sixteen and became a
student before I reached the conscription age.
There was a military faculty in the university
where I was assigned the rank of lieutenant with
the responsibilities of an artillery fire platoon
commander. No, service did not frighten me, but I
wanted to learn. And I must say that I never
regretted the fact that I focused on
jurisprudence. I liked everything and was ready
to become a judge and a prosecutor, a lawyer and
an investigator all at the same time. In third
year I realised that I was leaning towards civil
law. I had a scholarship for excellent academic
achievements; I studied well, and my marks were
uniformly good. But I still didn't have enough
money. In the summer I slaved away in
construction where I could earn three hundred
rubles a month. When the semester began I worked
somewhere as a doorman. One time I had the
territory around the Priboy cinema. It was a
great job! You get up early, go from Kupchino to
Vasilevsky, take a broom or a shovel in the
winter, and you've done your excercise before
nine in the morning. And you go to class in the
morning bright as a bunny. And they pay you 100
sterling rubles for your thorough work. In 1982
you could live pretty well on 150 rubles!
I had some time left for public work and became a
member of the Komsomol committee at the faculty
and then at the university level. I didn't think
of this as extra work. I enjoyed it. After
graduating from the law faculty me and two other
guys were offered a place in graduate school,
something that guaranteed that we would have work
at the university after defending our dissertations.
Did Sobchak help you?
Anatoly Alexandrovich worked then as an
ordinary professor. Nikolai Dmitryevich Yegorov,
the Chair of Civil Law, helped me and my friends.
We tried to not let our mentor down and all three of us defended successfully.
Who are we talking about?
One of my fellow students you probably know,
Anton Ivanov, who recently became
chairman of the
By a strange coincidence
That's the way life is. My other colleague
chose to work in the commercial sector rather
than in public administration and he seems to be
perfectly satisfied. As I said, the legal
profession is now quite popular, but before the
attitudes to its representatives were quite
different. In the sixties, at the moment when the
process of building communism was starting at its
fullest, some of the country's most important
leaders adopted the ingenious idea of sending out
the law faculty's graduating class to work for
the post office. The state and the law were
dying, and the
boots towards a classless society. At least
thats what the leaders thought. As a result
specialists with diplomas were sitting and putting postmarks on envelopes...
But now we will soon have a new holiday, the
Day of the Lawyer. If only it could help create the rule of law.
I agree. To overcome the legal nihilism
preventing the country from developing
harmoniously is a long and difficult job. As it
turned out, to establish a workable model of a
market economy is much easier than laying the
foundations of a state in which people respect
the letter of the law. This is another
demonstration of the thesis that democracy cannot
occur in any given place after two or three
years. It requires painstaking, persistent work
to improve the legal and political system. Of
course, one can not forget the distinctive
characteristics of the Russian situation. You
know, justice has always relied on a mechanism
for enforcing its implementation, some kind of
public stick. But if it is not based on a set of
moral imperatives, on internal convictions and
moral principles, if it simply aspires to the
crude power of a punitive machine, then the
structure it creates will be flawed and
ineffective. In the nineteenth century, the
Russian government was far from perfect but it
was a developed system based on a set of moral
and religious values. In the twentieth century,
the second part of this disappeared: people were
deprived of their faith in God and the state came
to demonstrate either naked coercion, which at
times was extremely cruel indeed, or weakness and
complete failure. These are both equally bad. We
all remember what the well known doctrines of the
thirties and forties led to, when the talk was of
class dictatorship and the presumption of guilt
in criminal trials. This helped resolve some
tactical problems, but in the long-term planted a
time-bomb that ended the very existence of the
Soviet state. You have to feel what justice is,
accept it voluntarily, not obey it in some
insanely prostrate way. The explosion was
inevitable, it would have happened sooner or
later. People rushed to the other extreme and
took to systematically breaking laws. This is what happened in the nineties.
Do you think that the current system of justice is better?
Though based on quite good, solid regulatory
framework, our judicial system continues to
function, getting its bearings from old
traditions. Disregard for the law in various
sectors of society remains widespread. Until we
change people's attitudes, until we convince them
there is only one law and no one is above it,
there will be no change for the better. The
strength of the rule of law consists in the fact
that no one can influence it. Neither pressure
from various authorities, including the most
powerful, nor pressure from business nor social
forces. Justice should be in harmony with all the
participants in this process, and refuse to cave in to anyone.
These are fine words, Dmitry Anatolyevich, but
how can they be put into practice?
You can start small. For example, recommend
that judges at all levels keep to a minimum all
contact with businessmen and even representatives
of public services. To retain maximum independence and objectivity.
You can't put people in a cage.
You don't have to. It's enough if you can
completely eliminate the personal factor. The
more faceless the legal machinery becomes, the
stronger it is. I am absolutely convinced of this.
Where would we be without human passions? Take
the recent dismantling of the British Council
Let me say this: our relations with Great
have occurred regularly for the last three
hundred years. I do not know if it has something
to do with
Queen of the Seas, and we also have something to answer for
[A group of Kovalevs: great-great-grandfather
Alexandr, great-grandfather Vasily, grandmother Melaniya]
In other words, closing down the British
Council is a good way of providing yet another answer to Chamberlain.
I do not have any examples of the British
Government's allowing Russian public
organisations to operate freely on its territory.
Just try registering our non-commercial
sure. Youll get tired of answering questions, of
giving all manner of explanations. We need to
compromise. Once someone invites you into their
home, you have to behave properly. After all,
everyone knows that a structure such as the
state-funded British Council, in addition to the
social and educational functions it performs,
does many other things that aren't so widely
advertised. This includes gathering information
and conducting intelligence activities.
One can understand that about spies: we don't
want any James Bonds in
important to get along with one's closest
I don't see them as fatally compromised. With
single economic zone, along with
Ukrainian colleagues have so many difficulties
today with governance. When the various political
forces are at war with each other inside a
country, it is difficult to negotiate anything at the intergovernmental level.
we have no insoluble problems. And we have many
points of common interest.
ready to talk. We can't choose our neighbours,
but we will continue to engage in a dialogue with
them. I have no doubt that we will find a common
language with the leadership of this Caucasian
republic. If not today, then tomorrow.
As a last resort, you can always turn off the
gas. Not only in
Gazprom always fulfills the commitments it
makes. Therefore recriminations concerning energy
blackmail, which we hear periodically from the
west, are totally untenable. It is clear that, as
irritated, and some of them rush to stick a label
on us. But in the final analysis this is all a
question of terminology and semantics. If you
want, you can accuse the
financial aggression and economic terrorism, and
of imposing its own values and entrepreneurial
standards on the world. Everything depends on
one's point of reference and perspective on the situation.
When I hear calls for
flexibility, I think that ten years ago I
probably would have agreed with this advice. But
I can't now. And not because I've become a big
boss. My angle of vision has changed. Had we not
taken a tough stance on some matters, we would
still be treated as a third-world country. As a
country just in the initial stages of social
development, a sort of
missiles. And this is not the case. We have our
own special situation in the world.
Thanks to our bombs and oil and gas?
Without a doubt. As well as our intellectual
potential, thousands of years of history and a
place on the map of
see anything special in the fact that now we have
begun to show our teeth in moderate fashion.
Presumably, you mean that the force we show must
be appropriate to the occasion, that overkill is
foolish, that we don't want to train cannons on
sparrows. You imply that to be for a Serbian
Kosovo or against the deployment of the American
missile defense system in eastern Europe we
should fight to the death, the way we did at
And it is not worth stirring things up because of
the British Council. I do not agree with you:
these small things come together to create the
image of a state. When you resignedly submit to a
small amount of pressure, no one takes you into
consideration any more. In international politics
and diplomacy there are no minor issues or
unimportant things. You need to think like a
jurist. Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made this
but also with considerable problems. Such a state
can only be controlled with the help of a strong
presidential power, regardless of who at any
given moment occupies that post in the Kremlin.
will disappear. That is my deep personal
conviction. Even our closest neighbors who have
tried to make very slight alterations to the
configuration of power have encountered enormous
difficulties, even though they have no federal
strong vertically-organised executive. These
lands came together over centuries and it is
impossible to administer them in any other way.
Our country has been and will remain a
presidential republic. There is no other option.
And where will the centre of power be? In the
Kremlin, a president, in the White House, a
national leader, there could be a split between them, and then
It would seem that you haven't been paying
attention. There is no such thing as two, three,
or five centres. The president
and according to the Constitution there can be
only one. Remember that I am speaking now about
the highest office in the nation, not a specific person.
But in the previous eight years everything has
been put together under a specific person whose name we know.
And that wasn't the case in the eight years before that?
But that president slipped into the shadows 31
December 1999 and came out of them only for
tennis tournaments. Today Vladimir Putin is not preparing to leave politics.
That's exactly why I am telling you not to
worry. Decisions will be taken according to the
Constitution, and the bonds between the president
and the prime minister will prove effective.
Vladimir Vladimirovich and I fully understand
that this union will be able to work only in an
atmosphere of mutual trust and partnership.
Why did you refuse to take part in the election
debate, Dmitry Anatolyevich? Zhirinovsky and
Zhuganov immediately claimed that you were afraid of them.
I respect my opponents but I don't overestimate
them. What is so frightening about them? We all
know very well who they are. Yes, debates in and
of themselves are not a bad thing. The reasons I
decided to refuse to participate are as follows.
First, enough is as good as a feast. You have to
look at the situation from the position of the
authorities that have demonstrated their
effectiveness and enjoy the confidence of the
people. I think that everything we've done in
country. Of course there are problems, but the
positive achievements are obvious, and it would
be stupid to argue against them. So I don't need
to win a bunch of verbal battles with those who
have never been at the helm of state machines,
whose programmes are outdated and obviously have
no chance of being implemented. The advantages of
power, its superiority and its problems, are
bound up with the fact that it deals with
specific cases in ways that may or may not please
the electorate but are nonetheless actually
visible. In the final analysis the voter has to
think of everything: the situation in the
country, relations with the current leader, a lot
of other factors, among which listening to public
rhetoric is not the most important. In other
words, the debates in this context are secondary.
And there's another reason: the rules of the
game. Engaging in a direct debate with opponents
from the ranks of the long-term survivors, the
government candidate unwittingly helps them out,
providing his rivals with an additional plug.
So you do not want to share your popularity?
Absolutely not. That does not make sense, since
the objective of any effective government is
maintaining stability and the continuation of the
course that has been chosen. We don't want disturbances of any kind.
The political vector is more or less clear. And
the same with the economy, it will continue to
get better thanks to all the those ubiquitous state corporations we've created?
Sometimes it is necessary to address global
challenges such as the reform of housing and
communal services or the development of
nanotechnology. Otherwise, such a huge
concentration of resources is meaningless. It
leads to a dead end. It's better to establish a
joint stock company with a controlling stake in
the hands of the state, as we did in the case
with Gazprom. Capitalisation is growing, stocks
are circulating freely in the market, auditors
are doing their work, and the mechanism for
creating profits is clear and well understood.
This last point is very important, because the
companies must not become a feeding trough for
the unclean hands of bureaucrats, dreaming of
fishing in muddy waters. Alas, there is no
shortage of craftsmen skilled at embezzling
budgets. We need an eye out for this type of
things. And a clear time frame, allowed for
solving the problems. This is why we told the
corporation in charge of housing and communal
services that everything has to be done within
five years. If they don't meet the deadlines, goodbye!
Sure, please turn over your position to someone
who's equally skilled at budgetary funds?
I know that you are talking about corruption.
The fight against it remains one of our top
priorities. Let me be clear about one thing: I am
not a proponent of making examples of wrongdoers.
The problem is serious and it must be addressed
comprehensively. An attack ΰ la Chapayev with
sabres drawn won't solve anything. We need to
create a system in which stealing from the state
is dangerous and unprofitable. We need to think
of the state as more than simply a source of
income; we can't just put our snout in the trough
and believe that we have made a success of our
life. What an immoral position! Someone slaves
away, studies, struggles all his life, creates a
business and finally succeeds, and the other
plunks himself down in a cosy armchair and wants
everything given to him. It can't be like that.
Leave the public sector and go to work in the
private sector. If you don't understand that or
are not prepared to live by the rules, you will
be punished with all the severity of the law.
They say that the kickbacks in
to the whole budget of the country
It's obvious that the value of these bribes is
astronomical. I repeat, we are going to do fight this.
Conservative methods are the most effective.
Surgery is necessary to bring some of our more
presumptuous comrades to their senses. I can
explain the necessary therapy: serve the state in
order to deal with large-scale processes and
acquire the experience of a top manager. Learn,
make yourself a career, and then go and realise
your ambitions in business. This is called
capialization. In the west, often ministers and
even prime ministers become consultants for
private corporations and receive good money, and
this is not considered corruption. Rather, it is very much valued.
But Schroeder was criticized for quite that.
First, he had the courage to say
needs to be taken into consideration, as long as
Europe really depends on it and
a reasonable and balanced policy in the energy
market. Secondly, in the west they think it
entirely acceptable for their outgoing leaders to
take up places on European companies' boards of
directors, but for some reason they get all upset
when a former German chancellor agrees to work in
a consortium with the participation of Russian
capital. A classic double standard!
Let's give politics a rest and talk about
something pleasant. When was the last time you
took a real vacation, Dmitry Anatolyevich?
Apart from the traditional visits
probably a year and a half ago in
In August 2006 I went to the Pacific coast for
the first time, and despite what I already said
about not wanting to lie on a beach, I really
enjoyed myself there. It was 27 degrees outside,
25 in the water. I looked at a Russian island and
realised what immense tourist potential our
country has and how little we take advantage of
it I was able to relax over the holidays this
New Year. I even went to the movies to see the
new version of «The Irony of Fate». I wasn't
disappointed. It was quite a film. He wouldnt
outdo Ryazanov, but Bekmambetov is more capable
than many contemporary directors.
Do you have time to watch television?
I usually watch the news, more and more via the
www.ntv.ru and look for subjects that I might
have missed during the day. This is much more
convenient than watching them on the box.
I see you like photography.
It started in grade four when I went to the
Young Pioneers Club on the Nevsky. I took a lot
of pictures from the beginning, but the Smena-8
millimeter camera I had was pretty limited, and I
lost my passion for photography. I got hooked
again for real after moving to
Are you planning an exhibition?
It's just a hobby
Are you a sociable person, Dmitry Anatolyevich?
You can not have many friends. I developed a
close circle of friends at school and university
and it hasn't expanded much in the last ten
years. Maybe a dozen people altogether, not more.
Will we know all their names soon?
I'm not planning on getting my friends involved
in politics. Everybody has his life and his choices.
Is it hard to get used to being constantly followed by bodyguards?
It's like getting used to being a public figure
more generally. I never sought it, never dreamed
that the world would know anything about me. It's
obvious that when I was working in the
Presidential Executive Office it was a lot
easier. The implications of the decisions I had
to make were very serious, the responsibility was
great, but nobody bothered me. Now I'm used to
having everyone breathing down my neck, but at the start it irritated me.
What about your family? I guess Ilya is no longer a child.
I wouldn't want to say that
No, I mean he doesn't kick the ball around with
the guys now the way you used to.
I would rather say that he never has done that.
play outside. And here we lived in the quarters
that my work provided, first in one place, then
in another. Sometimes his grandfather takes him
out, sometimes I do. In short, my son isn't
really used to being outside, and I'll tell you
honestly that that concerns me. Playing outside
is a great way of being exposed to what awaits
you. At least it was when I was a child.
By the way, on the subject of sport. The first
the second a lover of downhill skiing and
judo. What about the third? What should we expect, in a word?
concerned. As someone who is twice a day in a
swimming lane, I want to point out that there is
a disastrous shortage of swimming pools in this country.
So, we should start trying to master the crawl and the breaststroke?
And play football. We'll have to do something
with that! The people are so fond of this game,
and we haven't had any great successes in the
international arena for a hundred years. We are
fed up with waiting! In any case, it's been a
long time since I've had such an emotional rush
as I did at Luzhniki after our win over the English.
Especially over the English, so to speak, given the political implications!
It would also be good to beat the Germans and
the Italians. I'm not making any political allusions.
It seems that Zenith is promised to be the
winner of the Russian championship in the next four years.
They are this year champions, this is it. And
then we'll all see. It's a bad idea to insult
other towns, including the capital.
By the way, after eight years in
I am not going to be very original: the
Kremlin. It's the heart of
spontaneously feel the significance of the place where I was working.
It seems that you will be able to feel it many
more times in the future, Dmitry Anatolyevich.
You know, it is essential for me in any
situation to remain a normal twenty-first-century
human being. In the end, positions come and go