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Leonid Shebarshin: "a Strong Russia is necessary only to us, Russian"
Material posted: Publication date: 03-04-2012

In 1996 I was lucky enough to interview Leonid Vladimirovich Shebarshin. He was then 60 years old, he was energetic, smart, communication is very friendly and witty, poses no shadow or lecturing tone. In his life were war, famine, poverty, "conventional set of ordinary Russian people of my generation"," said I, Leonid Vladimirovich. Normal? Worldwide leadership intelligence – the diocese of the political and intellectual elite, highly qualified professionals with strong analytical capacity and enormous capacity for work.

- Leonid Vladimirovich, you were the head of Soviet intelligence in the most dramatic period in the end of one era in the life of our state and the beginning of another. Could you imagine then the nature and consequences of occurring changes?

- We have seen all major trends laid on the stage: a threat to the unity of the state, the danger of sharp social stratification of society, the explosion of crime, outbreaks of chauvinism and extremism, the authority of the national-state interests of the USSR the interests of our partners, yielding to reliance on foreign loans. PSU is not to blame, but to live doesn't get easier. All of these tendencies developed fully and now determine our daily lives. In place of the USSR today, 15 weak, mutually wary and even hostile to each other States which consistently disadvantaged. Terror – daily murders of businessmen, journalists, different kinds of violence have become the norm of our life.

In the late 80's-early 90-ies became apparent that without major elements of a market economy and private entrepreneurship we will not be able to remain in the ranks of the most developed countries of the world. It was necessary to liberate the creative initiative, but we slipped into anarchy. Yes, the country really needed democracy, but not for a tiny minority, but for society as a whole. Unfortunately, the slogan of democracy was used only for the destruction of the then political system. People who were torn to the power, were not simpletons. Sure, there were undue illusions about the market economy, but was and selfish calculation. Only one example – the decision to arrest Sergei Stankevich for receiving bribes in especially large sizes.

The credit for the new government considers freedom of speech, press, television. It's undoubted achievements, but achievements fragile. For example, the administrative levers of influence on mass media was replaced by not less effective economic levers. As a professional I see a considerable amount of ordered materials, hidden advertising, which in a veiled form, and sometimes quite frankly protect the interests of the United States. This is the focus of our "democratic" media.

- In connection with the ensuing election campaign today you can hear that the alternative to Yeltsin is not, and if he doesn't become President for a second term, Russia will perish.

- I remember the death of Stalin. I and my classmates were crying real tears for what seemed like a black cloud covered the country, and now we're lost. But no, not gone. Appeared the following uncontested leader – "our dear Nikita Sergeevich". Celebrated his 70th birthday, and the same people who were trying to impose on us a new kultik, quietly removed Khrushchev. For 18 years no alternative was Leonid Brezhnev. He died, and the country continued to live. And Gorbachev in the West is considered uncontested, and when I realized that there is an alternative, left him and made a bid for another. I generally humiliating the thought that 150 million people of Russia should live under the uncontested leader. When the fate of the country lay with one person, I don't believe it. Yeltsin was a product of his time. If he can be President in the new environment – I don't know, but I am sure that there will be no disaster if the elections go. All of these statements about the inevitability of chiefs and their hangers-on get price.

- What, in your opinion, should be foreign policy priorities of Russia today?

- I am convinced that our foreign policy should be more meaningful, independent and national in nature. Foreign policy of the period of Gorbachev-Shevardnadze-Yakovlev was characterized by an open kowtowing to the West and unilateral concessions. Shevardnadze "tweaked" the state border for the United States in the Bering Strait area, quite mediocre was made the withdrawal of our troops from Germany, tried to give the southern Kuril Islands (some "democratic" media have openly lobbied for their donation of Japan). The list is long. Our policy in 1992-1994 evolved into a "friendship" with overseas countries. Thus were ignored sphere of our vital interests. And still no meaningful lines, coordinated actions of the Russian public organizations in this direction. No one really cares for the fate of the Russian people outside of Russia. And this question must be the mainstay of relations with the former Soviet republics. The desired long-term state program aimed at providing maximum assistance to the Russian people, not by choice happened to be abroad. Until recently was made only spasmodic attempts to show that the countries of the CIS we are interested in what gave the impression of amateurish fuss, hiding the true springs of policy. Today, however, began to appear new highlights in the speeches of our leadership has changed the tone, suggesting the coming back down to earth. Begins to develop an understanding of the real foreign policy priorities of Russia – and these are our immediate neighbours, the countries of Eastern Europe, India and China. The growth of Patriotic sentiment in our society causes the leadership to take concrete steps to protect Russia's national interests – political, economic, international and military-strategic.

- The recent euphoria over the lack of democratic Russia, the opponents seems to be asleep. However, even today you can hear that the military attack against Russia is not possible, the spending on the armed forces and intelligence agencies should reduce...

- The fact that today Russia has no obvious military enemy is not the merit of our foreign policy, and most importantly – it is not an immutable reality. Unknown, bude, say, 5, 10, 15 years. And the military power of the state is an extremely important component of foreign policy, allowing equal talk with partners and opponents, it is reliable to protect state borders, and economic stability. Little Switzerland, which has not fought since the beginning of the NINETEENTH century, contains an efficient and well-equipped army. As for our armed forces, then, according to the Minister P. Grachev, they are in excellent condition, and according to his opponents, almost collapsed. The President himself has acknowledged that military reform goes not matter, wrong. It is obvious that the combat capability of our armed forces has declined sharply and continues to fall, and if it goes, we risk being left without a reliable army. To destroy the armed forces can be very fast, but they have for decades. You can talk about the transition to a professional army, however, if no real economic basis, all these arguments – manilovism.

Strong intelligence, as well as the armed forces, is a symbol of the power of the state. It is necessary for the adoption by the country's leadership informed decisions on political, military, economic and other issues. Priorities change, but the main function of intelligence remains unchanged and in periods of "hot" and "cold" wars, and in peacetime: production information, which is kept secret opponents or partners in international relations. Altruism in politics does not exist. Meanwhile in the world there are economic, national, territorial conflicts, arms race, the task of intelligence is to know the plans and the potential forces acting in the international arena, in a timely manner to identify threats to our national interests.

Inspired by the atmosphere of permissiveness that prevails in our society, some media are trying to present the heroes the traitors, morally flawed people. It is obvious that the replication of their hysterical "revelations" of dubious sensationalism aimed at undermining stability of the state.

- Looking at the current situation in Russia, what causes you the greatest concern?

- The plight of our economy, the continuing decline of production and as a consequence – increase in social tension, an unprecedented scale crime, which rose on the yeast of mindless privatization, messy steps of market reforms, the impoverishment of the people. Not comforting me attractive shop Windows. I get a nice pension, a salary and can afford to buy more, and tastier, than when he was chief of intelligence. However, chewing a piece of bread with butter when someone doesn't get dry and peel, is unworthy. I'm a Muscovite and I well remember the post-war period, when Moscow streets were full of beggars, mostly disabled and orphans. But no, it was never that well-dressed older people, embarrassed themselves, stood with an outstretched hand.

- How do you imagine the solution to the current situation? What you can expect?

I don't believe in a quick solution, promises to improve matters for 500, 1000 or how many days. We are very costly ill-conceived transition to a market economy. Gaydar is very warmly encouraged to make a "leap into the unknown". I wouldn't have minded if he jumped in, but an attempt to make Russia a haven of irresponsibility. Hope for normalization of the situation of our economy that I associate not with the so-called "new Russians" is an abscess on a sick body, it will pass. There was a layer of entrepreneurs who have adapted to new conditions, learned to think independently, to make decisions. They understand that time is money quick, we must engage in serious long-term commitment. They are not going to run abroad – those who wanted in there, almost everything is already there. In this layer a strong Patriotic sentiments, because for them to love Russia is to engage in creative activities, there develops the modern business tradition. The most important thing – growing Russian or Russian national identity, nationalism. For me this word carries positive content. Yes, we should cooperate with the West and the East, but to lead a life we have only our own national interests, not the so-called "new thinking" and "universal values", etc. it is Time to finally understand that a strong Russia is necessary only to us, Russians.

We live in Russia and must make it prosperous state. Patriotic sentiments spontaneously increase, and politicians are forced to reckon with them, trying to keep up with them. The nation woke up the instinct of self-preservation, survival. After all, a nation is a living organism, not a conglomeration of individuals. As a result of all these processes must necessarily appear Patriotic, strong, based on the majority of power. I think that it's not a matter of the nearest future, but it is absolutely inevitable.

Interview conducted by Olga Reshetnikova

Interview published in the newspaper "Literary Russia", No. 13, 29 March 1996

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