Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin
Deputy Prime Minister, co-chairman of the Russian-Moldovan intergovernmental commission and special envoy of the president for Transnistria Dmitry Rogozin 5 – 6 July visited Moldova - after a two-year break. After the talks held in Chisinau, he told Kommersant correspondent VLADIMIR SOLOVYEV about how trade and political relations with this republic can be restored, about his attitude to the local oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc and whether progress is possible in resolving the conflict on the Dniester.
- Your visit to Moldova was announced as a purely economic. But I would like to start with politics. You have not been here for two years, during which time several governments have changed. Have you noticed something new in relation to Russia, to you personally?
- I am still impressed by the recent meeting with Prime Minister Pavel Philip (6 took place on July. - “Kommersant”) and I want to tell you that the meeting was fruitful and my interlocutor demonstrated not ostentatious, but, apparently, a natural need arising from the state of the republic. relations with Russia.
Until now, there was a feeling of some kind of windy relationship. People came and I internally understood, and my colleagues in the Russian government felt that all this was not very serious. We arrived for a short time and, not having had time to shake hands, I received a text message saying that my interlocutor had already been dismissed.
This feeling of frivolous Moldovan politics, of course, was embarrassing. And we decided to take a break. In addition, you remember, there was a series of such provocations against Russian representatives, officials, employees of various ministries and departments, and the military, who had rotated to the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria.
I remember the circumstances related to my departure from Chisinau. Unpleasant memories of the search that the special services carried out in the plane of the Russian delegation. And from the point of view of the subjective, personal, there was a lack of understanding of where they move. Moldovan politicians had lightheadedness and frivolity in how they build up relations with Brussels. Practically taking the position of those for which you need and could fight.
- Do you feel this is over now?
- I do not know, but the tone has clearly changed. There are no such stupid, sorry for the expression, romping statements that tomorrow Moldova will join the European Union and therefore we don’t need anyone else, it just doesn’t sound. Plus, there is still such a heavy anchor on the legs of our colleagues - this is the statistics of trade relations with both Brussels and Moscow. All hopes for an easy victory, for such a quick capture of the heights set in front of them, were not justified. Trade relations with 40% have collapsed with Russia, with the EU - with 20%. Therefore, sooner or later this (change in relationships. - “Kommersant”) should have happened. And I hope that the words that we hear at the talks are, in fact, a kind of new reality.
- You spoke about the frequent change of government in Moldova. They said that there was a struggle between elephants and elephants. It is clear to you that for political power or an elephant, using your terminology, won in the end victory?
- I’m not going to talk about this right now, because the presidential election loomed ahead (the nationwide presidential election of Moldova is scheduled for October 30. - “Kommersant”) and if I now give certain personal characteristics to Moldovan politicians and their capabilities, then there will be those who will talk about the "hand of Moscow", about trying to influence the internal political situation in Moldova.
We abstract from this. In principle, I believe that there is a discredit of frantic westernism, which was and, in general, the people who come to power in Chisinau have their past, mostly related to the real economy, to business. Such people, if they came for a long period, simply because of their upbringing and life experience, have no right to risk the way the frantic Westernizers risk. Therefore, the equilibrium position of Moldova in relations with Russia and the West is a fundamental necessity, to which any political force, which claims power, will emerge today.
- You were greeted at the Chisinau airport with the "Occupant" slogans and other epithets. But Moldova itself European politicians, called the "captured state." It is believed that she is ruled by oligarch Vladimir Plakhotnyuk, who stands behind Prime Minister Pavel Filip, and Deputy Prime Minister Octavian Kalmyk, who were your interlocutors here. Do you consider this moment in your activity?
- I think that those who shouted “occupier” confused me with Plahotniuc.
- So you know this character of Moldovan politics?
- Well, of course, famous. If someone is an occupier, then definitely not me, at least. Let them look for this occupier inside. I repeat, I know different characters, but I am not inclined to give them any characteristics, including unflattering ones. People tend to change. We'll see if these pragmatic-cynical puppeteers, they may have very different surnames, have found it necessary to unfold Moldova to greater pragmatism, we will also react to this.
- Are you in this sense also pragmatic?
- Yes. I am not emotional here.
- In Washington, Mr. Plakhotnyuk is treated as a person who really makes decisions, unlike Philip or Kalmyk and other cabinet members.
- We do not want to know these subtleties. We prefer to deal with the official leadership. I have now met with the official prime minister, with the official deputy prime minister.
- Have you met Vladimir Plakhotnyuk?
- Not met.
- You said that you handed over to Chisinau a “road map” for the restoration of trade and economic relations. Little is known about its content. You can at least a few points, what should Chisinau do to return to the Russian market?
- We are still working on this "road map". It will finally be rolled up around the end of July. There is a Russian proposal, our option. There are offers from the Moldovan side. They do not always converge. We need much more from them than they need from us. The Moldovan side needs only the removal of some, as they believe, barriers. They even use the word “embargo”, although I categorically disagree with it, because the embargo is a barrier that is being lowered for everyone, but this is not true, because a number of Moldovan manufacturers work quite successfully on the Russian market.
- If these manufacturers work, then they are consistent with the principles that are reflected in the "road map"?
- Means correspond. We insist that the Moldovan state itself fulfill its obligations that it assumed before the CIS.
- Are these technical things mostly? Speech about technical regulations?
- Absolutely technical stuff. In this "road map" there is nothing that could warp the guardian of the Moldovan statehood.
- Restrictions on the importation of Moldovan products into Russia were introduced after Moldova made another step towards rapprochement with the EU. Before initialing the association agreement in 2013, Moscow abandoned Moldovan wine. After signing the agreement in 2014 year - from fruits and vegetables. You yourself have previously linked trade with geopolitics. Chisinau did not win back in relations with the EU. And not going to, apparently. How can you restore trade?
- If nothing changes, the status quo will remain. Everything is very simple. Serious changes will be required, a dialogue between Chisinau and Brussels on a number of positions that we consider to be fundamental, and they are laid down in the road map.
There is a concept of standards, they are quite specific, they are not abstract values that economists are appealing to. This is the first. Secondly, we need an understanding of the country of origin of the goods that are served to us as Moldovan goods. And while they do not give us such points, which allow us to see this in general Moldovan products or “Belarusian salmon”. Do you understand?
Therefore, until the contact of the bilateral working group, which will meet in the third decade of July, we will not disclose the contents of the document. It is not a secret - we simply don’t want to, because when we begin to publicly pronounce some of our positions, then it is difficult for the negotiators to explain why they have departed from them to one degree or another.
We have a fundamentally important semantic framework of our requirements. It is set out in this “road map” and the Moldovan side will either increase “meat” on it, or it will not do that. If she wants to return to the Russian market, she simply must do it. Moldova did not formally withdraw from those agreements, from the obligations that it assumed in the framework of the CIS. It has to reaffirm them and modify to a certain extent its relations with Brussels in order to actually have two full-fledged markets.
“To say that it is necessary to change the form of the peacekeeping mission is a big mistake”
- Often you can hear the phrase "Russian interests", geopolitics recently takes precedence over pragmatism and economics. What is the Russian interest in relation to Moldova? Here, Vladimir Putin will ask you: shortly for me, please outline our interests in Moldova. What do you answer?
“I do not think that what I will say to Putin and what I will say to Kommersant will be the same thing.”
- It's a pity. Give at least a version for Kommersant.
- The version for Kommersant is as follows. Yes, Moldova is a small state. For such a large state like Russia, it can weigh not so much on the geopolitical scales. Moldova is a territory that has retained potentially many conflicts. It is a country in whose territory citizens of the Russian Federation live. Here our interests are completely understandable. Protection of the rights, human dignity of citizens of the Russian Federation, arising from the Constitution and the norms of behavior of the Russian government.
Moldova is a country in the territory of which there is a conflict - Transnistrian. Now speaking about the need to change the form of a peacekeeping mission is a big mistake, this is nonsense, because if we touch upon the status of a peacekeeping mission, then this is the last thing in the chain of those things that need to be addressed in our relations. And, above all, on the organization of a full-fledged dialogue between Tiraspol and Chisinau.
If Russia is forced to keep its military contingent and peacekeepers far from its own territory, especially in conditions when we have to support it through the head of Ukraine with a hostile government, this means that our interests on the territory of Moldova are serious enough. And these interests are connected with the big blood that has been shed here. And we will do everything to ensure that blood does not flow along the Dniester.
What do we need? We need to have Moldova as a friendly state participating in economic integration with the Russian Federation and with the Eurasian community, and we need Moldova to demonstrate a progressive policy aimed at removing huge political, economic and other disagreements, including the left bank of the Dniester. Because not only half a million of our compatriots live there, but also 200 of thousands of Russian citizens, for whom we simply must fight, fight and defend them in every way. Therefore, despite the low proportion of Moldova in the whole complex of relations between Russia and the outside world, there are deep scratches that force us to keep the Russian bandage here.
- When in the EU they talk about their interests in Moldova, they talk about stability, modernization, democracy, the fight against corruption. This set of words you will not hear from representatives of Moscow. Why is that?
- Do you want us here to fight corruption?
- The United States is also not fighting corruption, but they talk about the need to fight corruption.
- In my opinion, this is a matter of course, things that are connected with the normal democratic governance of the country.
- It is important to articulate such things.
- It is important for us that we, sitting at the negotiating table with people, understand that these are not smugglers and not criminal elements. We simply will not sit down with them at the negotiating table. It is important that these are people authorized by their voters to represent a significant part of the citizens of Moldova. This is important.
Therefore, criminal Moldavia, of course, bothers us. We can not physically negotiate with crooks and apostates. Americans can. For Americans, if it's their bastard, then it's their bastard. It’s like a former bad guy, who became a good guy, because he went under Great America (an unpopular oligarch in Moldova, Vladimir Plakhotniuk, has recently been received by officials in Washington. - “Kommersant”).
- You are not talking abstractly, but about specific people?
- Quite specifically. For us there are much more rigid moral principles in relations with our partners.
- Settlement of the Transnistrian conflict on the basis of the territorial integrity of Moldova. Is it in the interests of Russia?
- I think this is in the interests of all. But this is a goal that is achievable if Moldova itself wants it. She must fight for her territorial integrity. We, Russia, should not fight for someone else’s territorial integrity, we must fight for the safety of the people who are under our care. And to play clearly its role as a guarantor of peace on the Dniester. What we are doing for these more than two decades. As for territorial integrity, you know, “every ram should wear its own horns,” as Alexander Lebed said (General Lebed played an important role in ending the active phase of the Transnistrian conflict in 1992). So here, Moldova should worry about this, and it should create the most comfortable mode for Transdniestria, so that Transnistria is gradually restored to some kind of confederation status, a different status, as part of a single Moldovan state.
“Federation, confederation - the difference is small. Everyone here puts different concepts. ”
- Confederation is a new word in the Transnistrian settlement. They used to talk about federation.
Federation - confederation, the difference is small. Everyone here puts different concepts. I proceed from the classic term. For example, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a confederation, and the Swiss Confederation is a federation. Therefore, I mean the confederative relations of Transdniestria and Moldova, but I say it again: this is a question of Moldovan politicians. They must want this. If they wanted the Constitutional Court to consist of citizens of Romania, and I was greeted by a text message “Welcome to Romania” when our plane comes in to land at Chisinau airport, then ...
- This is a question for the Russian mobile operator, I think.
- I do not know to whom this question. But I just read SMS and proceed from this. I immediately begin to look out the window, where I flew. Suddenly we have an emergency there and the plane landed in Bucharest? So, this is a question of Moldovan politics first of all. If they want to go to Romania, then Transnistria is better to let go in a good way, if they don’t want to go to Romania, if they want to remain a sovereign state, a smart state that will protect all its citizens, then it will take years, but these years will not be in vain. They will go to the restoration of territorial integrity.
- Do the Moldovan authorities want to go to Romania and don’t want to let Transnistria go, will it be bad?
- And you want to say that half a million Transnistrians will want to go with them to Romania?
- And I also think it is unlikely. Therefore, the point is not what I say, but the question of what will happen. I can say anything, any other politician can say anything, but the fact remains that he is indisputable even for the most vehement supporters of unification with Romania. If Moldova takes a step towards Romania, Transnistria itself will fall off on this steep turn.
- When you come to Moldova, you always separate Transdniestria verbally from right-bank Moldova. You speak about Tiraspol with warmth, and about Chisinau with chill. Why?
- I internally do not have such sensations. In vain you provoke me on this topic.
- From the side it looks that way.
- Now my heart is full of love for Chisinau, do you understand? I am sitting opposite you ...
- Sit and love Chisinau?
- Yes Yes. We met with the prime minister. Very nice man. We agreed on many things, not only on the “road map”. On the restoration of cultural relations, educational, talked about the purely human aspects of relations. I actually have a very warm attitude towards Moldova, to the Moldavian people, and I’m not joking at all and I’m not being cunning. The problem is different. I am, of course, annoyed by absolutely crazy people who may appear in any politics, and in Moldavian as well. And in Russia, some people annoy me, this is normal. I have principles, I am Russian, I’m not a cosmopolitan. Therefore, I am talking about these people in Moldovan politics, of course, with chill.
- Russia helps Transnistria, and does not help right-bank Moldova. The heel is obvious. There are construction projects in Transnistria, social facilities, but not in Moldova.
- As far as I know, Moldova is not in a state of isolation and economic blockade.
- Help Transnistria is due only to the blockade?
- Of course. We understand that if we do not help Transnistria, then it will not cope. Without Russian assistance, Transnistria will not survive. I am absolutely convinced of this. As for Moldova, it will survive because it does not have isolation. We actually help the people of Transnistria very much, Moldova also receives tremendous help from Russia. Obviously perfect. Labor migration - calculate how much money in currency comes to the budget of Moldova from 700 thousand labor migrants.
- It is difficult to call this using: people work and earn.
- Do you think we have a thoroughfare for migrants? We can make any decisions related to diversifying, for example, labor migration. Or on the contrary, someone wants more, someone less. We want Moldovans to work at our economic facilities, we believe that these are people close to us in our views, in our faith, in the common traditions of living in one state. And we will never do anything bad to them, I myself very closely watch that, within the framework of our Russian part of the intergovernmental commission, migration issues are constantly raised specifically with positive. Therefore, when we are talking about help, this is a huge help, when the absolute majority of labor migrants have chosen Russia with their feet, hands, head, their labor. The paradox is that, in spite of this labor migration, some political forces of Moldova are turning in the opposite direction.
- The President of Transnistria Yevgeny Shevchuk all the time says that the main problems are precisely because of non-recognition. It would not be better to help Russia to resolve this conflict. Using the example of Karabakh, we have seen that frozen conflicts tend to flare up anew.
- Absolutely agree. Why do we actually participate in this negotiation process? And keep your contingent, far from your own homeland, maintain peace and security on the Dniester? This is our contribution to the settlement, the final settlement of this issue. The question is different. Moldavia itself wants this? It is impossible to resolve issues related to separatism without a clear, adequate position of the government.
- Did you ask Prime Minister Philip about this? About whether Moldova wants this?
- We just started this dialogue.
- The previous Prime Minister Valeriu Strelets, when he ceased to be a prime minister, said that if Transnistria had agreed to return to Moldova, then Chisinau would not be ready for this, because there is no plan for this. Such is the frankness.
- I told the prime minister one thing. If you count the number of years that have passed since the autonization of Transnistria, 26 years, almost more than one generation, a generation of young people who do not know Transnistria has grown up in Moldova, does not consider it to be their own and does not understand what reintegration is. A generation has grown up in Transnistria, which also does not see any interests for itself in Moldova.
They see interests either in Russian citizenship and work in Russia, or they see for themselves the interests of their own labor migration in the European Union. There are guys who receive, seek to obtain European citizenship. Therefore, if we still sit on the chairs, watching the constant change of governments of Moldova, then some time will pass, and then the problem will disappear all by itself. Just de facto, these two territories will no longer have at least some minimal set of something that holds them together into a single statehood. And all the talk about the return of this territory to Moldova will resemble a Japanese conversation about the return of the South Kuril Islands, which they pronounce ritually, but they understand that this is really impossible.
- What do you think, as of now the united state of Moldova and Transnistria in some form is possible? And what does it depend on apart from the desire of Chisinau?
- We cannot talk now about resuming any negotiations on the status of Transnistria, about the future statehood, because we were very close to resolving this issue, but then some people got scared (meaning that Russia developed 2003, a plan for resolving the conflict in Transnistria on the basis of federalization in Moldova, was rejected by Chisinau. - ““ ”). And the situation is reversed. I offer today a policy of small good deeds. It is necessary to abstract from vague prospects and begin to solve those issues in which people are interested. This is a rail link, a border crossing mode, a registration of goods, car numbers, and much more. These natural relationships need to be resolved so that people will feel some benefit from a rapprochement. And when there is nothing, and we start talking about the future status of Transnistria in the Moldovan state, this is the talk of impotent people about the Kama Sutra.
- What is your point of view on the settlement? Should two parts of the country become one or do you need a final divorce?
- The position of Russia is in one thing: stop demagogy, engage in real affairs.
- In 2003, Russia played an active role in the Transnistrian settlement and proposed a plan. What is over, we know, but now similar steps are not observed. Then Moscow was very active. Now it feels like no.
- Moscow was active because grandmother was alive. Grandma died.
- There is no reason to now talk about what you are asking me. There is not the slightest reason to resume this negotiation process. Nobody is ready for this. And the more time passes from the starting point, the more difficult it will be to return to this process.
I think that the things that I am saying now, everyone understands perfectly, agree with me internally, so once again, I propose to return to the policy of small good deeds. Start, make, help, if you want, the two banks of the Dniester to talk about those issues that concern them. Listen, soon there will be no two banks of the Dniester, in general, even the Dniester will not.
- This is due to what happened in the Vinnitsa region of Ukraine, when they actually began to take water from the Dniester. The Dniester began to melt, I was shown photos where the Dniester is already turning into a certain set of islands. There are places where you can already, without soaking pants in boots, go this Dniester. And this is a problem that, in fact, in all this demagogy, chatter about statuses, the politicians of both banks of the Dniester have missed.
- How will you join it?
- We will be included in it when the question is put by Moldova itself. Chisinau is simply obliged to raise the issue of ruining the river. The Dniester is no longer a river, I say it again, the two banks will soon merge into one dry field. Here is the problem that they need to solve. Or learn to go out together with initiatives that relate to the foundations of their livelihoods, their future, the future of their children. And so it is possible to argue as you like, then they will simply end up on the breadcrumbs and those and others.
"We can not increase our economic assistance to Transnistria, in the conditions of the blockade - we ourselves are short on money"
- In Transnistria in December, the presidential election. The parliament and the head of the republic are already in conflict. I remember the election campaign 2011 of the year, in which the current head of Transnistria, Yevgeny Shevchuk, won. Moscow did not bet on him then. And now Moscow is on whose side?
- We are not on any side, we are on the side of the people of Transnistria.
- Wonderful wording that means nothing.
- But I really like her. When I hear it from others, I am always in awe of absolutely empty, but absolutely correct wording. But I will try to breathe life into it. And frankly, we are really on the side of the people of Transnistria in this situation. People should have calm elections, because if they are hectic, a certain third force will surely appear that will try to sway the fragile republican statehood that exists in Transnistria. We know that the absolute majority of the people of Transnistria are in favor of deepening relations with the Russian Federation and consider themselves an integral part of the Russian world. Therefore, in fact, let the candidates themselves understand each other.
- The last VTsIOM survey showed that Mr. Shevchuk is extremely unpopular. He was president for five years, you worked hard with him for five years, what went wrong for him?
- Ask Shevchuk himself, I think he will not agree that something went wrong with him. During the time he ruled Transnistria, he achieved a lot. You just need to understand the time that he experienced with the government of Transnistria. This is a time of tightening the blockade, this is the time when the main donor of the economy of Transnistria - the Russian Federation - was surrounded by a palisade of sanctions and is currently experiencing major economic problems, so we cannot increase our economic assistance to Transnistria, under the conditions of the blockade, we ourselves are pressed for money.
Shevchuk did everything he could do as a politician, as a manager. As for his opponents, I have not heard a single scandalous question or question that would call into question the authority of Transnistria. No such charges. And I hope, and there will be no black PR during the election campaign. At least, Russia's position is the same: they should calmly reach the beginning of the election campaign and carry it out without any dirty rubbish, which always casts a shadow on its own author. I think everything will be absolutely calm, normal, and all our conversations are superfluous phobias.
- Contacts of Moscow and Chisinau are increasing. The foreign ministers, deputy prime ministers, and prime ministers met. Are visits by top officials possible soon?
- This year it is unlikely due to the political calendar, which is agreed in advance. But I think that if we hold a full-fledged meeting of the intergovernmental commission before the end of the year, ministers and deputy ministers will be able to meet and create their own channels of negotiations, this will be very good. If we come to a profound change in the essence and form of the Moldovan policy in the eastern direction, then we can expect all the necessary attributes of rapprochement, including official visits.