Nikolay Kovalev: If the world had listened to Russia, it would have been possible to avoid a lot of mistakes

PRAVDA.Ru conducted an interview with the former director of the Russian Federal Security Service, deputy chairman of the committee of the State Duma for security, and the chairman of the committee of the Duma for struggle with corruption, General Nikolay Kovalev.

Question: It has been almost two years since Russia received its new leader. What do Putin's former colleagues think about him? Do you think the president is acting in the right way? Will this reapprochement with America be dangerous?

Answer: We have to acknowledge that the world has had a selective attitude to Russia’s opinion lately. Sometimes, foreign countries were listening to us, but sometimes they were just pretending they were listening. Now, things have changed, and Russia’s considerable role is evident, especially in light of the events that took place after September 11th. We warned about the possibilities of chemical or bacteriological weapon being used and about the possible use of the nuclear weapons by terrorists. Unfortunately, all these weapons have already become real in our life, not imaginary.

Needless to mention, there is no country in the world that can guarantee security in the whole world, no matter how strong this country is. This is a global objective. There is some time to regroup the forces and elaborate a mechanism to counteract terrorism. International terrorism was developing and growing for a long time, and the adequate state services failed to warn and strike back against the coming threats. Talking objectively, noone ever dealt with the preventive measures against terrorism on the global scale. That is why the tragedy in New York and Washington caused so much pain. The development of closer relations with the USA is one of the significant sides of the counteraction against terrorism. I believe that the development of all kinds of cooperation with America in terms of the new world order is positive in its sense.

Question: Russia has already removed its army bases from Vietnam and Cuba. Will it become a defeat, since we realize that the USA will exert anti-Russian economic and political influence ?

Answer: As far as the liquidation of the army bases is concerned, it is important to stress the following. The conditions of their operation became beyond the strength of our budget. The loss of an intelligence channel can be compensated with less expensive but efficient means. This step will be another “bridge” for developing efficient cooperation with the USA and other countries.

Question: Do you think there will be other ways to gain such information?

Answer: Electronic intelligence is not the only way to get the needed information. Electronics is not the dominating factor here. The human factor has always been and always will be the dominating factor. At the same time, one should not underestimate the opportunities of the electronic intelligence.

Question: What is your estimation to the changes currently taking place within the staff of the Russian president?

Answer: I do not work at the presidential administration; that is why I will only tell you my ideas about some of the most common questions pertaining to the officials’ activity in general. The major rule for appointing state officials is the selection of candidates on their professional qualities. Honesty and unselfishness are the ethical norms of their conduct. For the time being, it is not possible to say that we have such a level of a state official. However, one should develop, form, and amend the high standards of the activity of a state official. The major evil in this respect is corruption, which is eating the country from within. We are about to see if there are going to be changes in this respect.

Question: What should be done to keep the officials from stealing? To pass a law maybe? The role of the State Duma must grow.

Answer: I think this is a priority question for the State Duma in connection with the legislative amendment. At the same time, the regulation of its activity and the order for the development of bills in the government does not give the Duma many chances to allow this process to proceed faster. The red tape takes years and years, and the urgency of the new laws becomes lost. However, even if there are some new laws passed, then it will take very much time to introduce changes and amendments in them.

On the other hand, one may easily see the example of the coordinated actions between the legislative and executive powers in the USA: there were the necessary legal acts passed quickly to provide for the safety from and to struggle with terrorism. The society had to restrict its freedoms in order to guarantee security for the citizens. This is one example to follow. Corruption is the main threat for us, but, unfortunately, we have not yet found any way to struggle with it. In addition, we have to keep in mind that our legislation is not perfect, as it allows criminals to cheat our citizens without being punished for it. The people are in need of an efficient law-enforcement system.

Question: What did the terrorists achieve with their attack on September 11?

Answer: I think that each citizen of the planet had this idea – there was no guarantee for 100% protection. Then there is another question coming up – what about a state, which can not guarantee security for its citizens and is there a need in such a state? The leaders of the countries, the American leaders first and foremost, will have to answer these questions. Russia has repeatedly claimed that there was a connection between the international and Chechen terrorists, that they cooperated, and that they were funded. However, our position was considered as propaganda and the West did not perceive it seriously. There are a lot of examples to illustrate the notion of double standard, but I think that the September tragedy will help to get rid of this “disease.”

Question: Does our president see these problems?

Answer: The public statements from the Russian president and the results of his personal meetings with the leaders of the USA and other countries give reason to state that there is a joint work currently being carried out to set up the strategic union for guaranteeing the international security. That is why I hope that all the efforts will be crowned with success.

Nikolay Kovalev was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov