Vladimir Kozlov: "The parity of EAEC member states is an empty notion"
The most political of all prisoners in Kazakhstan has finally been transferred from Northern Kazakhstan to the south-east, where he should have served his unfair sentence from the beginning. Proximity and a less strict regime allowed us to conduct an exclusive interview with Vladimir Kozlov.
The interview was somewhat fragmented: we talked about his transfer, and Ukraine, and the new-old Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. Vladimir Ivanovich has his own opinions and stances on all these matters.
- Vladimir Ivanovich, what are your impressions at the new place? Are you excited to be closer to your family, friends and associates?
- Am I glad that I have finally been transferred to a penal colony in close proximity to my place of residence? I am unequivocally and gratefully glad. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of those who helped to bring about this transfer, and even those who sincerely wished I got this!
I had wanted this since the ruling had been handed down and back in the Aktau prison I wrote the first application request about it to the CCES, but... After that, I wrote a few more times and again I received the same answer: "no". I have already quoted those negative replies; rubbish is not worth repeating, so I just wish to repeat once again: I'm really glad about the achieved, though belated, justice in terms of partial fulfillment of the provisions of Article 68 of the PEC of the RK. I'm happy about the fact and the result.
A lack of optional, but compulsory excesses, the family living so close, my wife doesn't have to travel two-thousand kilometres in order to talk to me for two hours, looking at each other through a double-glass wall from floor to ceiling - even this is enough to joyfully 'feel the difference'.
- Is there a difference in the way you are treated as a political prisoner here compared to the North-Kazakhstan Province?
- "A political prisoner" is a special phenomenon in the "system", it is entirely alien. I kind of 'slide' in the stream, in the mass, but I am not part of this stream. Over this period of more than two years, I've had a chance to read almost everything by Khodorkovsky about his time in the system and everything coalesces almost completely. It is understandable: the 'systems' of Russia and Kazakhstan are similar because they both derive from the same 'school' - the NKVD.
I do not think that now there is a need to elaborate on this "being", especially since I have already wrote a lot about it, when 'doing time' in Petropavlovsk's colony. Every minute I was in the state of mind expressed by one thought - "What am I doing here?", and our 'justice' system increasingly sends more people here who feel the same way.
- Also 'political'?
- They are not politicians, not at all. They are educated, sophisticated, enterprising people doing business under 'conceptual' rules and with a selective application of the law. They are serving sentences of 8, 9, 10, 11 years' imprisonment... These are human tragedies. People are hoping for something, waiting for something... I would like to leave this place and try to help them, convince someone, prove, bring these guys back to their families (they have them, they love them, help them, and suffer with them), to the society in which they will be useful.
- Now in Russia and Kazakhstan, people are talking about the 're-annexation' of the Crimea. Are you, being of Russian nationality, pleased about the extension of Russian territory?
- As regards the situation with Ukrainian Crimea, my position remains unchanged. I have already shared my stance on the events in Ukraine, unambiguously and decisively, I am on the side of Ukrainians, and not Yanukovich, a pro-Russian 'twice convicted' friend of Vladimir Putin.
Naturally, I am truly sorry that the events became a tragedy, and the tragedy has led to social and economic shocks and losses, but the blame for this lies entirely with Yanukovych and Putin; maybe even more on Putin, because Yanukovych is no more than a presumptuous and proven thief, because of whom the "Great Helmsman of All Russia" has twice suffered a 'backfire for his good deeds' (in 2004 and 2014).
The seizure of the Crimea was an act of aggression; no questions
asked. Putin correctly counted on the unwillingness of the U.S. and
Europe to wage the third world war, or rather their awareness of
their historical responsibility for the consequences of such an
option. Putin himself, due to his personal grievances,
vindictiveness and irresponsibility, was apparently, ready to take
such a step.
Hence the result - the emergence of a permanent centre of contention.
I read an opinion that Russia has 'reclaimed' its territory, which had been 'incorrectly' given away by Khrushchev. Also, I read that it was the will of the citizens of Crimea ... It's nonsense! If we talk about Khrushchev, we cannot forget about the Crimean Tatars, who lived there long before. And also, we can go back as far as the Greeks, who had lived there before the Tatars, and even earlier - Atlantis...
In each turn of history, if you truly want to, you can find arguments to support any claims, but nothing will justify revenge-seeking, because you cannot judge the past from the point of view of the present… especially in the case of seizure of territory by force.
I am against any form of violence and I appreciate the restraint of Ukraine, the EU, the U.S., which did not allow themselves to be dragged into a deadly confrontation. Russia has committed a crime, no matter what it thinks about itself. Analogs of what happened in the Crimea, can be found in the history of 1930s Germany; born out a distorted perception of identity.
- Let's go back to our country. Kazakhstan has the Eurasian Union on its agenda. Is it beneficial or detrimental?
- I think Massimov's second appointment as prime-minister can be attributed to the need to conduct a higher quality foreign policy. An indistinct position of Kazakhstan regarding 'Crimean history' can place Kazakhstan between a rock and a hard place; which can hardly be labelled the 'happy middle ground'.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, mired in scandals in Germany (a consul transpired to be a smuggler), Italy (the kidnapping of the wife and daughter of Mukhtar Ablyazov), Spain, where the ambassadors of Kazakhstan, possibly, financially motivated judges and prosecutors involved in the case of Ablyazov (possibly in France, too) is not able to perform its functions properly.
Massimov, who feels comfortable in the corridors of the authorities' buildings of Kremlin, Beijing, having the experience of 'concluding agreements' in mutual relations with the EU and the U.S., and enjoying administrative powers of prime minister - is a "stitch in time'. In addition, the time has come to sign a new union, imposed upon Kazakhstan by Putin. Declarations regarding the parity (equal benefit) of the countries - participants of the EAEC - are just an empty phrase. This has already been confirmed in the Customs Union. Predictions made by its opponents (including us) were fulfilled even down to the smallest details: Kazakhstan turned into a colony, cheaply exporting raw materials and importing marketable products.
- As an ordinary citizen sees it, we import everything from China. What is left for the Russian Federation and Belarus?
- For the sake of Belarus and Russia, we create new jobs in their countries (for our market) and ruin our agriculture/farming industry, which is unable to defend the vulnerable commodity markets in Kazakhstan from the dumping aggression of Belarusian and Russian farmers.
An imbalance of economic activity of the Customs Union is estimated at billions of dollars of losses for Kazakhstan - so what is there to talk about? EAEC is another step 'in favour of Russia'. Economic dependence will certainly lead to political concessions, perhaps to the emergence of supranational structures.
Russian banks in Kazakhstan will be met by 'Sberbank of Russia', which will be determined by the need to service the Russian business in Kazakhstan, etc. etc. etc. I really hope to be proven wrong about this, but I know that this will not happen, unfortunately, as long as those who have lost their sense of shame and a sense of proportion call themselves 'the authorities'.