Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
28th December, 2015
On the recommendation of the Kremlin, all politicians are to read the collection of quotations of Vladimir Putin entitled “Words that changed the world”. RBC spoke to a few participants in the meeting, which was held earlier this week in the presidential administration. The meeting, according to interlocutors to RBC, was attended by about 50 people, including state Duma deputies, members of the Federation Council and Public chamber, and first Deputy head of the Kremlin administration Vyacheslav Volodin. “Volodin spoke about the book. He said that it should be on the table of any politician”, — said a participant of the meeting close to the leadership of the state Duma.
A Christmas gift
After the meeting, politicians were given this book as a gift for the New year from Volodin. RBC spoke to several deputies of the state Duma, the Chairman of the state Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov and Secretary of the Public chamber of the Jewish Autonomous region Natalia Matienko. According to the latter, she received the book by mail enclosed with a letter from Volodin. In the book there is a collection of articles and speeches of the President allowing us to understand the values and principles that lie at the heart of the major domestic and foreign policy decisions.
A member of Volodin Kremlin’s internal policy Department confirmed to RBC that they had given the book to about a thousand politicians and officials. It was sent to the governors, speakers of regional legislatures, some state Duma deputies, the representatives of the popular front (the members of the Central staff, the regional co-chairs and heads of Executive committees), members of the Council of the Public chamber and the secretaries of the regional chambers will receive the book as a gift as will the officials of the political administration of the Kremlin.
The book is of annual format on the eve of the New year, explains the interlocutor in the Kremlin. It’s part of the educational program of the Department of internal policy, along with educational seminars, which are held regularly by the management. According to the source, last year Volodin gave politicians a book of Putin’s favourite philosophers: Ivan Ilyin, Vladimir Solovyov and Nikolai Berdyaev.
Words that changed the world
The book is called “Words that changed the world”, and features key quotes of Vladimir Putin.” At almost 400 pages, there are 19 of Putin’s speeches and articles in chronological order. The book begins with the speech of the President at the UN General Assembly in 2003 and ending on a speech there later this year. There is the so-called Munich speech of Putin, an interview with CNN in 2008, , “after Georgia attacked Tskhinvali”, the pre-election article by Putin in 2012 and the President’s speech to the Federal Assembly on the occasion of the inclusion of Crimea and Sevastopol as part of Russia.
In each of the 19 chapters, the book begins with a brief review of the authors. Then there is Putin’s speech, with key quotes in bold. “These are the words that foretold and foreordained a global change in world politics”, — states the preface.
For example, the first Putin speech in the UN shows that he understood that “the destruction of key institutions of international security is guaranteed to plunge the world into chaos”, says the book. “If those, who in 2003 was present at the General Assembly, listened to the words of Putin, the world would be quite different — hundreds of thousands of people would be alive and Europe would not be swept away by the wave of refugees from the Middle East,” argue the authors in the commentary to the President’s speech.
The book proves two facts, says the author Anton Volodin. “First, we began to notice that everything Putin says, in one degree or another, is coming true. In this book we have traced his words and confirmed that thought. Putin’s words can be called prophetic,” he says. Secondly, the authors wanted to prove that Russian policy is consistent, and the book is clearly proof that Putin did not change his position, insists Volodin.
Accordingly, the book is aimed at the domestic and foreign audiences. According to him, for officials, it is important to understand “what the President wants and where he is taking the state”. For external audiences the book will be translated into English, he promises. People abroad need to understand the justice in Russian policy, says Volodin.
Recipients of Grants
The book was published via the youth movement “Network” — their work is supervised by the Department of internal policy of the Kremlin. According to Anton Volodin, a trial edition of the book was released a week ago. “The Department of internal policy liked it, so we donated them a thousand copies,” he says. A source in the Kremlin also said they did not pay for the books.
Volodin explained how was the books were printed. According to him, the authors had different sources of funding. “Network” regularly receives presidential grants. In December it became known that they had received 11 million rubles for a creative workshop called “Art Hive”. And in July, Alexei Navalny claimed that the movement, through other NGO’s, had received 70 million rubles. But the presidential grants were not used for the printing of the book, said a representative of “the Network” to RBC.
The demand for the book is already present, so by the end of January it will be in stores, says the representative of the movement. The cost of the book will be about 800 rubles, and it is planned in the near future to print another few thousand copies, then the circulation will be increased, predicts RBC.
In general, books about Putin are in demand, so we are trying to supply them, said General Director of “Moscow house of books” Nadezhda Mikhailova. “Another thing is that it will depend on how prepared the book is,” she adds.
The sign of the times
“The first parallel that comes to mind is a quotation collection by Mao Zedong (a brief collection of the sayings of the Chinese leader published by the PRC government in 1966. — RBC), — says historian and member of the presidential Council on human rights Nikolai Svanidze. In Asiatic countries with authoritarian and autocratic, the regime always tried to print the most vivid expressions of the leaders, even if these expressions are not very bright”. He recalled that in the USSR even during the reign of Joseph Stalin there were no quotations. “Quotes needed to embed all his work — whether it be about physics or physical culture. “Quotes from Stalin were withdrawn, and it became mandatory on every occasion to publish only the words of Marx, Engels and Lenin. Now the words of Putin on physical culture are optional, but that may change” —the historian said ironically.
Svanidze didn’t know members of the HRC had received the book from the Kremlin. “But I would be interested to read it and save it as the sign of the times,” he says.
A source close to the Kremlin recalls that in 2000, there were many books about Vladimir Putin and that they were mainly published in the publishing house called “Europe” (it is actually controlled by the then-loyal to the presidential administration, political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky). Most notable was the book by Alex Chadaeva called “Putin. His ideology”. “But if this book of Putin’s speeches aims to prove his continued innocence, it is then in some sense the first of its kind for a book,” said the interlocutor of RBC.