Fragment of the meeting on 30-31 August 2008
Video caption: Armando Verdiglione and Boris Nemtsov. Meeting at Villa San Carlo Borromeo (Milan).
30-31 August 2008
Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov was born in Sochi, on the Black Sea, in 1959. He graduated in 1981 from the Lobachevsky Department of Radiophysics at the prestigious Gorky State University. He became part of various academic institutions involved in research in physics, acoustics and hydrodynamics. He was elected to the RSFSR (Soviet Socialist Federal Republic) in 1990. In 1991, with Boris Yeltsin’s chairmanship, he was elected vice president of the Russian Republic and later governor of Nizhny Novgorod region. In 1993, Nemtsov joined the Federal Council, supported by the “Russian Choice” and “Yabloko” groups, Russia’s main liberal parties. From 1997 to 1998, he was Russia’s vice-governor, with a specific task in restoring the energy sector. In 2004, he joined the board of the “2008 Committee. A Free Choice”. That same year he famously appealed, published in “Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Journal)”, against Vladimir Putin and in favour of civil liberty. Nemtsov maintained a research activity in the fields of political struggle, freedom and civil rights and published various works and treatises. He was assassinated in Moscow on 27 February 2015.
A unique video: Boris Nemtsov is a guest at a closed meeting in a private villa in Italy.
August 2008, the Russian-Georgian war has just ended. He discusses the consequences, answers questions…
Five Day War
The armed conflict in South Ossetia, also known as the Five Day War, the August War, the war in South Ossetia — fighting that took place in August 2008 between Georgia on one side and the self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and the Republic of Abkhazia, alongside with Russia, on the other.
Fighting continued up to and including 12 August. From 14-16 August, the presidents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Georgia and Russia signed a plan for the peaceful resolution of the conflict. The five-day war had significant geopolitical, economic and other implications.
On 26 August Russia officially recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
On 2 September Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia.
On 28 January 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, having discussed the situation around the Russian-Georgian military conflict, adopted a resolution with a Georgian amendment condemning Russia’s recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhaz independence: «The Assembly reaffirms the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and repeats its call for Russia to reverse its decision to recognise South Ossetian and Abkhaz independence and to fully respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders».
(from Wikipedia article)
Boris Nemtsov draws conclusions about the consequences for Russia from this war: economic, political. Conclusions that today can be seen as predictions from as far back as 2008
On war with Georgia and the consequences for Russia: Nemtsov’s predictions
Sarkozy came to Moscow, immediately, and proposed his famous plan, which to my surprise, for example, Medvedev immediately signed. What did the plan say? That Russian troops are coming out of Georgia, that there might be an international contingent there, that the status and the future life is to be decided through negotiations. But no one was going to implement this plan, moreover, the troops continued to stand.
Then Medvedev, you know this too, just the other day decides to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and Ossetia, violating, incidentally, the Sarkozy plan.
Now, what were these citizens motivated by?
Why did they act like that, knowing that Russia could be isolated? Why, this is an important point, isn’t it?
There are several reasons. The first one is a domestic political reason. Confrontation with the West, isolation is supported by Russian people. More than 80% of the citizens of the country think — «Great! What a mess we made of those Americans and the West!»
Why is it supported? The fact is that the citizens of the country have a lost superpower complex. There was the Soviet Union, we were a great country, everybody counted with us, everybody was afraid of us… There was a confrontation, there was a cold war between East and West, then we lost that war, the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia became weak, and a huge number of people have a huge nostalgic complex about this, a superpower complex. …So the internal reason is a very popular solution.
External reasons. The logic of Putin, and indeed Medvedev, is now like: where on earth will they all go? They all depend on our gas! They are dependent on gas. Berlusconi, Sarkozy, Angela Merkel — what are they talking to Putin about? Berlusconi talks about South Stream, Merkel about Nord Stream and Sarkozy about all the streams at once. They are not going anywhere. They will scream and scream and calm down.
In other words, Putin is convinced that there cannot be this kind of isolation, a general, big isolation. It cannot happen, because the world is dependent on Russian raw materials.
Now, what this mistake will lead to. The first is the arms race. …
Right now Russia spends $40 billion on weapons. That’s about 20 percent of the budget. Well, Russia will spend, let’s say, twice as much. The money will have to come from whom? Pensioners, teachers, doctors. Thus, Russia’s most important problem, which is poverty!
Poverty, when my mother receives a pension of 100 euros, and pays 70 euros for her flat — she has one euro a day to live on! Putin will be busy making weapons at the same time. What does he need my mother for? I will help my mum, of course, no problem, and my mum will not be lost, thank God. But we have 38 million more people like my mum! And 25 million people live on less than two dollars a day! 25 million! Putin will build tanks and missiles, that’s obvious. An arms race is one.
The second is international isolation, that is: the exclusion of Russia from the G8, big problems between the EU and Russia, I am sure of that.
So obviously there will be sanctions.
Next. Business. It is obvious that the West will limit Russian business involvement in its affairs. Here, it is now restricting Gazprom, rightly believing that Gazprom is not business, it is politics. And from now on, they will consider any Russian business to be politics! Thus, it is a blow to business.
Finally, it is obvious that when Russia is «in a ring of enemies», there will be increased reaction within the country, xenophobia, and there will be increased authoritarian, dictatorial tendencies. It is clear. So, in terms of internal dynamics, these are very bad decisions! They are beneficial for Putin, because he hates democracy, he hates criticism, he hates freedom, it is understandable. But they are detrimental to Russia because they are corruption. The closure he has put in place is corruption.
This is why, of course, the consequences of these decisions are very bad for Russia. Socially, it is of course the reduction of social programs, including pensions. Politically, it is an increase of dictatorship and authoritarian tendencies. In business terms it is a restriction for Russian companies. And in terms of international tensions it is an arms race.
Fragment of the meeting on 30-31 August 2008, hosted by Armando Verdiglione, Italy.