Attempts to diminish the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany through rewriting history by some Western countries are part of the campaign to isolate and alienate Russia, Sergey Ivanov, head of the presidential administration, told RT.
Sergey Ivanov, Head of the Russian Presidential Administration,
thank you for taking the time to be with RT International, we
really appreciate it.
SI: My pleasure.
RT: Well, in the run-up to the big Victory
Day celebrations, the 70th year of course, the first question is
how are those preparations progressing, bearing in mind, of
course, the economic issues at the moment in Russia and ерic
cost-cutting that’s obviously having to happen as well. Is it
going to affect the Victory Day celebrations?
SI: Well, the V-Day celebrations are well
underway. I’m the chairman of the organizing committee, so I may
just assure you that everything is fine. There are thousands of
events, I can’t name them all – it will take maybe one day to
name them all. But basically, you mentioned not a very bright
economic situation in Russia, and that is true, but we
deliberately decided not to make any cuts for the preparations.
The total budget is 28.5 billion roubles, it’s a huge sum, but I
would like to stress one very important point: this money is
mainly allocated not for the festivities itself, it’s allocated
for the veterans. To be exact, 12.5 billion roubles are for
housing for the veterans. We have still in Russia 2.5 million
veterans, so it’s for their housing. And the next sum, 12.3
billion rubles, is allocated for social benefits for the
veterans. So the minor part of the whole budget is allocated for
different events. There will be thousands of them, as I have
RT: What about the highlights? What
highlights are planned for this year? Because of course it is
such a big event this year, it being the 70th year. What can the
public look forward to?
SI: Well, I remember when I was Minister of
Defence 10 years ago it was also a big occasion, 60 years at the
time. And this year it will be even bigger. There will be
military parades in 150 cities, and not only Russian cities, but
abroad. I mean Russian troops will take part in military parades
in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Minsk, Belarus; Yerevan, Armenia; and
Tskhinval in South Ossetia, which is an independent state, as far
as we’re concerned. There will be five separate naval parades in
Russian ports and five airshows. But the pinnacle will be in
Moscow, of course.
RT: Can you let us into any secrets or
anything that the public can in particular look forward to? Any
SI: Not all, but maybe some. Well, of course the
parade in Moscow will be the pinnacle. It will start at 10
o’clock on the 9th of
May, because in Russia we celebrate it on May 9. The number of
troops… more than 15,000 troops. There will be a modern parade
and a sort of a retrospective parade.
RT: So there’ll be a historical side to it
SI: I mean some soldiers will wear the uniforms
which were part of the Soviet army 70 years ago. There will be
special insignia. I think in Britain you call it ‘trooping the
colors.’ It will be something like that. And of course there will
be old tanks, the famous T-34, some other trucks, military trucks
which were used 70 years ago. So that will be the historical part
of the parade.
RT: But also modern technology as well
SI: Yes. As for the modern technology, there
will be on display for the first time state-of-the-art, brand new
weapons systems like, for example, the intercontinental ballistic
missile called Yars. There will be armoured personnel carriers,
high-precision artillery systems – they will be shown for the
first time. There will also be the famous Sukhoi Su-30 and Sukhoi
Su-35. They are also state-of-the-art, very modern.
RT: What about foreign dignitaries there to
see it? What do you think about the number of foreign dignitaries
this year who’ve said they’d come along? Are you pleased with
that number or do you wish that maybe more people could be there,
especially dignitaries from Europe maybe?
SI: First of all, it’s Russian celebrations. The
V-Day is very important for Russian people. They are proud of it.
They want to stress that the Soviet Union was the main party
which managed to conquer Nazism, to defeat Nazism. That’s why we
are happy and ready to see foreign dignitaries. But still, for
Russians, most important – it’s our, if you want it, internal
celebrations. It’s an internal holiday, internal day of
But if you ask about the participation of foreign countries – of
course the present international situation is such that we don’t
have very warm relations with some West European or North
American countries. The number of foreign leaders will be smaller
than it was, for example, 10 years ago. I remember 10 years ago
President Bush attended, many other leaders, including the
British Prime Minister… But it’s not very important for us. This
time it will be twenty-six state leaders – it is already
confirmed, that’s an official number – plus several heads of
international organizations, like the UN, for example: we are
expecting Ban Ki-moon to attend. They will come from most of the
CIS countries, many Asian countries, BRICS countries, by the way,
and some European leaders: from the Czech Republic, from
Slovakia, from the Balkan states, the president of Cyprus. And
the chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel will come on May 10, one
day after the parade.
RT: As time goes on, this event is a huge
event, and especially so this year in Russia – the way it’s
observed, people of all ages are really involved in it. In
Western Europe, it’s much less so, it has to be said. And
equally, Russia’s portrayal of it is sometimes displayed
differently in other countries in the West, especially as time
goes on as well, it sort of whittles down. Do you think that –
it’s known as the Great Victory, 70 years of the Great Victory in
Russia – but do you think the way other states and countries
maybe embellished their role in it over the years is wrong? And
do you think it’s portraying Russia in the wrong way? Do you
think Russia should do more to say: no, these were the facts,
this is how it was, and it should be remembered and respected as
SI: I agree with you. I think we can’t change or
revise history. There are a huge number of documents, historical
proof that the Soviet Union played a crucial role in winning this
most dreadful war in world history. And now, you are right, I am
also concerned that politicians in some countries, particularly
in Western Europe, in the United States, purposely try to rewrite
history, to twist history, to put, for example, Communism and
Nazism on one level. And this is not true. It’s simply not true.
And our veterans and most of the Russian public simply would
never buy it, would never agree with that. The more it goes, the
more purposely, I think, Western countries want to use this not
very moral method to isolate Russia, to put to oblivion millions
of Russians, as well as British, American victims of the
Anglo-Saxon world who gave their lives to defeat Hitler.
RT: Would it be going too far to say that
some countries use the terrible events of the Great War as a form
SI: Yes, I think it’s propaganda. We are often
accused of propaganda, I know, by the Western media, but in this
case it’s obviously Western propaganda.
RT: In the run-up to the Victory Day
celebration there is a worry that in some countries in Eastern
Europe particularly, but also Greece, Germany, Britain as well,
to some extent, there is a growing neo-Nazi movement. How big a
danger do you think that is? Is it a danger to Russia? And if so,
what could Russia do about it? Can it do anything about it?
SI: Obviously it’s a danger, definitely it’s a
RT: Is it overblown, do you think?
SI: Well, it’s different in different countries.
Let’s put it this way. In Baltic states, in Ukraine now you can
see openly Nazi marches. With torches, with Nazi symbols, they
are open. And we are very much concerned that respective national
governments do nothing to prevent it. There is also some rise of
neo-Nazism in European countries, which you have already
mentioned. And I have to be objective, there is some neo-Nazi
movement – it’s not very popular, but it exists – in Russia. And
we are very strict in both legal forms of fighting it, and also
moral forms. Because if the bulk of Russians knew what Nazism
was, what an inhuman ideology it was, it’s like a medical shot,
if I may put it that way, to prevent the Nazi ideas or Nazi
ideology from spreading. So it’s very important from the point of
view of true history and from the point of view of everyone
knowing what happened 70 years ago.
RT: Why do you think some people have so
easily forgotten what happened in a relatively short space of
time – within a generation or generation and a half now? Is there
anything that Russia can do to spread the message that those
things that happened in the war were absolutely terrible?
SI: Partly because the young generation is not
interested in history, partly because society as a whole doesn’t
pay much attention to those facts and events. For example, I read
some recent public polls in European countries. Around 60 percent
of the people, ordinary people, they think that the basic role in
fighting Nazism, I mean the military effort, was delivered by the
United States and Britain. Ten years ago, it was not 60-70
percent, but 40 percent. And around 60 percent were saying it was
the Soviet Union. So in 10 years the picture changed drastically.
It’s a pity, and it’s a shame, if I may add.
RT: Talking about things that maybe could be
improved, you’re talking about relations between Russia and
Europe, Russia and America right now, but of course Russia is
Europe’s geographical partner, if nothing else. Europe’s facing a
lot of problems right now, still, with the economy, and we’re all
facing problems from terrorism. Is there anything that Russia can
do to help Europe combat these problems that are common problems
for Russia as well? Is that day going to come any time again
soon, are we going to see greater cooperation soon?
SI: Well, I’ll start with a point concerning
V-day and World War II. The UN was organized after the war, and
it’s still the main international body responsible for security.
And the UN as such was devised to prevent repeating something
like Nazism and world wars generally. Since then, a lot of water
has passed under the bridge, but the new challenges and new
threats like terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction, regional conflicts – they are still on the agenda.
And Russia is definitely an active part of trying to solve those
problems, but solving together with the United States, with
Western Europe. And we would never change our principal approach
to those problems. We will continue, if the other partner wants
to join efforts, to work together.
RT: And do you think it moves that way any
SI: Iran is a good example, quite recently, the
Lausanne agreement about the Iranian nuclear programme is a huge
breakthrough, in my view. As for the Middle East, you must
remember what happened in Libya, for example. There was no UN
resolution allowing to bomb Libya. And now, we face hypocritical
efforts to stop illegal immigration from the coast of Libya to
Italy, for example. What was the principle cause, which started
this illegal immigration? The bombing of Libya. Now, European
countries face the results of their own policy.
RT: It’s causing a revolt in Italy.
SI: It’s dreadful of course, dreadful to see
those TV pictures of hundreds of people drowned, but the
principle reason of this illegal immigration was because Libya
was bombed, and Gaddafi was killed. Because when Gaddafi was
alive there was no illegal immigration.
RT: And, finally, if you have a message for
the Russian public and those watching us around the world, what
would it be on this 70th anniversary?
SI: Well, first of all, I would congratulate all
Russians, all former Soviet citizens who are still alive, and our
allies in the US, in the UK and other countries like Australia
and New Zealand, who fought Nazi Germany and I would wish that
people would never forget what happened in reality.
RT: Sergey Ivanov, Head of the Russian
Presidential Administration, thank you for taking the time out of
your busy schedule to talk to RT International. Thank you.
SI: You are welcome. Thank you so much. It was a