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#14 - JRL 7130
April 3, 2003
Deputy Alksnis Says Feeling Ashamed of the Country

"This is the first time over the three years of my deputy activity that I mount this rostrum and I say I'm ashamed of my country, the situation here distresses me very much. Being present at regular sessions of the Duma, listening to speakers on the rostrum I can see a lot; and what I see turns out to be plain truth that history teaches us nothing when it teaches its lessons.

I remember that on September 4, 1991 people like you gathered in the Kremlin's Congress Hall; some wonderful speakers from the platform persuaded the gathered that nothing else could be done, the Soviet Union broke up and they must vote to approve the break-up. Those deputies pressed buttons and voted for liquidation of the country.

Then, I remember the assembly hall in Russia's House of the Government on December 12, 1991 where mostly normal, honest and clever people gathered for a session. And once again they were said from the platform that under that time realities nothing could be changed; and those people voted for ratification of an agreement on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). And assuming they reached a nice decision, the deputies stood up and gave themselves a standing ovation. In fact, it's hardly likely that some former deputy of the Russian Soviet Federative Social Republic currently feels proud of his voting for ratification of the agreement on the CIS.

And now, this is quite a different hall, and I stand in front of the third generation of Russian deputies. I'm terrified with the thought that if an institution like today's Duma had existed in the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, it's for sure that already in July 1941 the Hitler army would have entered Moscow.

I say again I'm ashamed of my country, of the parliament and of the president whose usual speeches are just appeals "to consolidate and increase". I remember perfectly well that three years ago people voted for Vladimir Putin at presidential elections. That was done for one reason only: the president promised to crackdown on disorders in the country. The people trusted him and cheered up; they have been tired of the humiliation Russia had been suffering from within the ten years before Putin's election to the presidential post. The Russian people believed that a strong and clever man would appear in the Kremlin to make an adequate answer to the outrage to which Russians fell victims in the Baltic republics, in Chechnya. That was the reason why people voted for Putin.

And now we hear just obscure talks and see search of consensus.

Before this very session in the Duma I surfed the Internet to see what western mass media were publishing on the Iraqi war. It's incredible, but Russia wasn't mentioned in the publications concerning the war at all. On the whole, when it comes to the Iraqi war on the Internet, the place-name of Russia doesn't exist at all. You can read about positions of Cameroon, Botswana and New Zealand on the war problem, but, sorry, no position of Russia as it sees the war can be found on the Internet.

I can say that people gathering in this hall are guilty of the fact that Russia is disappearing as a subject of the international law at all. Unfortunately, Russia's opinion isn't taken into consideration any longer, and it's unlikely to be.

Before I ascended the rostrum, specialists on the international law, former ambassadors and diplomats delivered their speeches. I would like to remind them of a great diplomat of the 19th century saying that Great Britain has no eternal allies and has no perpetual enemies, but perpetual and eternal interests. Today, it's a pity for me to state that our country is the only in the world that has no national interests at all. Russia lacks its national interests at present.

In a foreword to his great book Hemingway wrote: "Therefore never send to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." And I say that today the bell is tolling not for Iraq, it's tolling for Russia, for our country. My opinion is that although all deputies give now they votes "for what they should be given", they all the same understand deep in their souls what consequences this may bring. This may entail unfavorable consequences not only for Iraq, but also for us, for the country, our children and grandchildren.

But instead of taking some actually important decision, instead of making recommendations concerning the situation to the President, to the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we, parliamentarians stick to an ostrich policy.

My son is a captain of the Russian Army. I'm afraid that in 5-6 years, when the NATO draws closer to our borders and NATO tanks stand near the Russia-Estonia frontier, he will ask me how I could allow this. I'm afraid to be asked such questions, indeed."

From Viktor Alksnis's speech at the parliamentary session

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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