Mikhail Sokolov: Have you noticed that they’re still trying to work out some kind of [national] ideology? There’s this “Shoigu Law”, which really threatens anyone engaged in research relating to the Second World War that doesn’t fit in with their view of it – that’s a form of ideological activity.
Yuri Felshtinsky: Yes. Though I don’t think it’s dangerous, because I think it’s all rather absurd. For example, I never believed – and this goes back to the discussions there have always been among the émigré community, at least since the years when I first came over here in 1978, that there would be fascism in the Soviet Union or Russia. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now. I never believed that there would be nationalism in the Soviet Union, or now in Russia. Because Russia really is a multi-ethnic state. And the numbers of Russians, who have never been counted, and especially of pure ethnic Russians, whom it is absolutely certain that no one has ever counted, are not critical enough for Russia to have a hard-line national government.
And Russians themselves probably see one another more as people who are soft rather than hard-line, more disorganized than organized, more slovenly than focused on certain ideas and rules.
Russia is an enormous state. For all the attempts to remake it and build a centralized “vertical of power”, you and I know that the power ends at the Ring Road. And in fact there are many who would seriously assert that it ends at the walls of the Kremlin. Beyond the walls of the Kremlin, none of that centralization and “vertical of power” works any more.