At a meeting with the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, Russian President Vladimir Putin entered into controversy with Council member, film director Alexander Sokurov. The report about the meeting was published on the official website of the Kremlin.
During his speech, Sokurov pointed out a number of problems associated with interethnic conflicts, territorial claims and the fate of its peoples. In particular, Sokurov proposes to pay attention to those peoples who did not want to live within the structure of the Russian Federation.
Putin called Sokurov's speech a manifesto made of fears.
"How do you know who wants to live with us and who does not? (…) Do you want the fate of Yugoslavia to repeat on our territory?" Putin argued.
He told the director that he treated him with great respect, but asked him to verify the information before saying it in public, because it was inadmissible even for such a prominent public figure as Alexander Sokurov to speak superficially on this topic for the whole nation.
The Russian president also recalled that the bloody period of the 1990s showed how everything could end.
"I assure you, this is a dangerous game. We have done a lot to get away from this dangerous line. Don't push us back. Are the Russian people interested in the disintegration and dismemberment of the Russian Federation? Will it then be Russia? Do you want to turn us into Muscovy?" Putin wondered.
In response, Sokurov said that he was only proposing to think about the problems that he touched upon in his speech. Putin responded that no one was against thinking about those issues, but one should have thought about them first before saying all those things.
"Come to meet me, we haven't seen each other for a long time. (…) Please don't be angry, but these are serious things. You can offend someone," Putin told Sokurov.
Earlier, Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, said that the meeting with Putin lasted for more than five hours. The President was reacting calmly to every speech, giving "a rather serious explanation on every matter," he said.
Director Alexander Sokurov later regretted that he entered into a polemic with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with News.ru, Sokurov also said that he was upset and now believes that he should not have spoken at the meeting, because the resulting dispute only caused irritation.
“We speak there in a hope that we would be understood. I, at least, had no other purpose,” he explained, adding he could say a lot more than he actually said.
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