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Sergei Stepashin – To Vladimir Putin on his 70th birthday: Strength of will, strength of spirit. And – reliable comrades nearby

Sergei Stepashin

Sergei Stepashin

A photo: Ivan MAKEEV

… – Sergey Vadimovich, on the day of the anniversary of the head of state, first of all, we are interested in the following question: what has become the most important for you during the years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency?

– I hope that the most important thing is ahead of us. To sum up what has already been done…

– Yes!

– … then this is the strengthening of the sovereignty of the country, its economic potential. After all, despite the wave of sanctions from the West, the country still got on its feet.

I am glad that the military-industrial complex is developing – the President has sharply strengthened this direction.

Well, despite the fact that in our society, let’s say, different people, nevertheless, in this difficult situation, the nation has united – this can be said for sure ..

Someone ran away…

– Well, he escaped, and thank God. We don’t need Maidanists, let them do Maidan somewhere…

This is probably what we need to talk about today.

Well, plus, of course, the fact that the country has become one that is considered. They are afraid, but they are considered. This is completely obvious.

– And you said the most important thing is ahead. What do you have in mind?

– I mean peace, the well-being of our fellow citizens whom we have liberated and whom we will liberate in Ukraine.

Everyone is waiting, of course, for decisive victories in this regard.

– I can’t help but ask you, after all, you are one of the leading lawyers in our country. And you head, yes, the Association of Russian Lawyers, is that the right name, in my opinion?

– So, Sasha, and is called.

– Right now, in our Basic Law, the amendments to which we adopted, four more new ones have appeared among the subjects of the Federation … How do you regard this – as a lawyer, as a lawyer?

– There is such a thing as the right of peoples to self-determination. And this right, by the way, was used by our peoples – the Russians living there, in Eastern Ukraine. From a legal point of view, everything is in perfect order here.

– And within what boundaries will the new – liberated – formations be? Am I legally correct?

– In general, yes.

Now the laws have been passed. (About becoming part of Russia. – A. G.) But some simply do not understand what borders even Donbass will be, especially the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye.

But for me it is obvious, within the boundaries that existed in 2014, as it was, by the way, in the Soviet Union.

That is why, in order to accomplish this, of course, very serious measures are needed, including those of a mobilization nature – what the president of the country is doing now.

– It’s clear. Well, here are your memories, or something, you somehow told me a long time ago that you knew Vladimir Vladimirovich back in Leningrad, yes – how tough he was, which means that he was a leader …

– In appearance, he was a completely calm person, but when it was necessary to make decisions … After all, this is the end of the 90s, the beginning of the 91st, 92nd years …

This is then-consider neither Russia nor the Union! Remember, the novel was filmed “Gangster Petersburg”? So – everything is true there, except for the names.

And then Putin was instructed to be the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg – Anatoly Sobchak. And to conduct all foreign economic activity, and not only it, by the way, in fact. He had broader responsibilities.

At that time I was the head of the department of the Federal Security Agency, well, the KGB. Therefore, he knew all this firsthand.

Of course, a lot was done then in order to, nevertheless, put things in order. Especially in the field of foreign economic.

This, incidentally, came in handy for Putin later, when he became prime minister.

– Did you often communicate with him then, in St. Petersburg?

– But not very. The time was so dynamic, and we were sorely lacking it.

Later, when Vladimir arrived in Moscow, headed the presidential control department, and I was in the government apparatus, in charge of the administrative department – we met very often.

By the way, I said that the initiative to appoint me as Minister of Justice after Kovalev left with a scandal, remember this story …

– Yes, bath, girls, right?

– You don’t have to get distracted by all these different things.

– So what?

– And then, in fact, Vladimir called the White House, we met. And he offered me to become Minister of Justice.

Then Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin joined in. So, as they say, we have our own history in this regard.

And so, of course, we met very often, worked together. And we interacted especially closely when he was the director of the FSB, and I was the minister of the interior.

For all questions. Fight against terrorism, against crime, against corruption. We worked hand in hand – unlike what happened with Andropov and Shchelokov, we did not have this. We had a friendly collaboration.

– And there weren’t – not that conflicts, but some kind of contradictions there, any friction? When here it was necessary to argue, to prove.

– Decided, in fact, a common cause. We weren’t even bumped into.

Just as we were not pitted against Primakov when I replaced him, so it was with Putin when he replaced me as prime minister, you know this story.

– Oh sure.

– Vladimir, by the way, came to me for a farewell, as they say, meeting with the government, we talked together. Then he even came to my house, to the dacha …

– And what do you have at home? Maybe some details…

– Everything was humane, yes.

– How long was he at home? This is already in the rank of prime minister, right?

– Well, yes. He was the prime minister. Here. We talked like a human, walked, in fact, that’s all. And what did they talk about?

– About future. At that time we wanted to form an electoral bloc – Stepashin, Kiriyenko, Ryzhkov, but Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin opposed it. And then the so-called “Bear” appeared, remember, which became “United Russia”?

Yes, we all remember.

– Well, what would you like to wish your colleague, comrade, I’m not afraid of this word?

– Firstly, I want to say that I was 70 in March, the president is today. And this is not the age that should make a person sad, especially since Putin is in great shape.

Wishes, probably three.

The first is to get things done. I am sure that it will be so, knowing his character.

The second is willpower, strength of mind.

And the third – reliable comrades nearby.

Not those who bow and, therefore, swear allegiance and friendship, sometimes without telling the truth, but real and professional, honest, I am sure that he has such a team.

Moreover, comrades from the CIS will come to congratulate him today. I’ll say it in the Soviet way, to Leningrad-Petersburg, to our beloved city.

I think this is also our president’s moral support. I think this is the most important thing for him right now. As for a person.

– It’s clear. Thanks a lot.

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