STEPHEN KARGANOVIC “VOICE OF RUSSIA” INTERVIEW, 16. OCTOBER 2014.
- In your opinion, what is the importance of Putin’s current visit to Belgrade?
For the Serbian people President Putin’s visit has extraordinary political and moral significance. Serbia today is strategically surrounded in a way that is practically indistinguishable from the situation that prevailed in March of 1941. At that time, the Yugoslav government was under extreme pressure to abandon the democracies and join the fascist camp. As we know, after much vacillation the Yugoslav government succumbed to the threats and arm-twisting and signed on to the Axis alliance. However, the Serbian people rose up the following day, massively denounced the pact with the fascists, and the rest is, as they say, history.
The analogies today are evident to a remarkable degree and require no elaboration. The only major difference is that the center of the free world has now shifted to Moscow. At the end of the day, Winston Churchill approvingly commented in the House of Commons in London that “the Serbian people have found their soul.” The people of Serbia hope that very soon President Putin will have occasion to make the same remark in the Russian Duma.
- In his recent interview with Serbia’s Politika newspaper, Putin specifically praised the development of cultural and spiritual ties between Russia and Serbia. What do YOU think of the future of these relations?
Much work needs to be done to advance cooperation on the people-to-people level in those important spheres. Serbia today is inundated with Western cultural trash which numbs the mind, depresses the spirit, and disorients its consumers, especially the young people. Russia must project itself vigorously in Serbian cultural space in the areas of film, literature, the media, fine arts, science and other segments where the contemporary achievements of its talented people are largely unknown to the Serbian public. I would insist on adding language to this list. Two hours ago, President Putin addressed the Serbian nation from the grand stand where he reviewed today’s parade honouring the liberators of Belgrade in 1944. He spoke in Russian. The fact that it was thought necessary to translate his remarks into Serbian, from one kindred language to another, to make sure he was understood by the huge crowd which gathered to greet him illustrates my point. We will be able to say that cultural and spiritual unity has been achieved when such translations become unnecessary.
- In the interview, Putin touted Russian-Serbian relations as “traditionally friendly”. Do you think we should go further by describing them as fraternal?
It is evident to all Serbs who have been to Russia, and all Russians who have visited Serbia, that fraternal is precisely the right word. Governments are subject to pressure and blackmail, and they often speak ambiguously and insincerely. The warm welcome President Putin received from his most important hosts today – the people of Serbia – attests not just to their deep admiration for the President personally but also their closeness to the Russian people.
- Separately in the interview, Putin pointed to the threat of neo-Nazism spreading in Europe, especially in the Baltic countries and Ukraine. What do you think should be done so as to prevent this threat?
Commemorations of Nazi defeats as a result of joint efforts of freedom loving nations, such as the one in Belgrade today, is an excellent way to start. Young people especially should be made immune and educated about fascism. They must learn that the threat it poses is still active today because as we speak its deluded followers are being used against the Russian, Ukrainian, and Serbian people, the nations which made the greatest sacrifices to defeat it seventy years ago. The crowd that came to greet President Putin and watch the parade in Belgrade this afternoon was predominantly young and that is a very encouraging sign. Let us hope that soon the people of Ukraine will also be able to hold their victory parade, as they celebrate the second time they defeated fascism on their own soil.