Vladislav Surkov, former assistant to President of Russia, whom Vladimir Putin dismissed on February 18, gave his first interview after his resignation.
According to Surkov, who gave an interview to Actual Comments website, he has no plans to return to public service, although he still wants to stay in politics. It is worthy of note that Vladislav Surkov was in charge of Russia's policies in relation to Ukraine as he was staying in his office as assistant to president.
Surkov claimed that his resignation took place at his own request.
"I did it myself, it was my own wish," he said.
The decision to resign, he said, was associated with a change in the situation around Ukraine.
"The context has changed, let's put it this way," Surkov noted, having refuted allegations about the reshuffling of president's apparatus. According to him, Moscow's policy in the Donbass does not change.
According to Surkov, he realized that he was alien in the system back in 2013. "Of course, I created this system, but I was never part of it. This is not a problem of the system - this is my problem. I feel alienated. I just simply can't do something longer than five years," he said.
"I'm interested in working in the genre of counter-realism, when you need to act against reality, to change or remake it," Putin's former assistant said.
"For political reasons, I am Russian. For political preferences, I am a Putinist. Partly heretical," he said.
Speaking about Russia's relations with Ukraine, which he had been curating during the past few years, Surkov said that building them is possible only through "coercion to fraternity." "Coercion to fraternal relationship is the only method that has historically proven its effectiveness as far as Ukraine is concerned. I don't think that there will be something else invented," he added.
"There is no Ukraine. There is Ukrainianship - a specific disorder of minds, which was taken to the extremes through the passion for ethnography. There is a mess instead of a state. There is borsch, Bandera, bandura, but there is no nation. There is no Ukraine ... I, strangely enough, ... think that there is no Ukraine yet. It will appear over time. However, what kind of Ukraine it will be, within what borders it will exist, and how many Ukraines there will be - these questions remain open. Russia will have to take part in the solution of these questions this way or another," said Surkov.
When asked about his impressions of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Surkov replied: "He's not a red neck. In any case, in Paris everyone took him for president ... He has this unusual lightness in his thoughts."
Speaking about his future, Surkov said that he has no "big business" to do yet, so he intends to "practice small political forms."
"I'll go and see what's on the market. I am not up for grabs with my s and political toxicity. On the contrary, when I appear, potential business partners run away. The more interesting the task." Surkov said about his new place of work.
Vladislav Surkov did not san anything sensational in his interview. He explained this with "corporate ethics": "Always say what you think; never say what you know," he said.
However, he did spoke about a possibility to reset Putin's presidential term in connection with the upcoming vote for amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. According to Surkov, if the amendments are approved, the powers of the president will be specified. "Legal logic will lead to the need to restart the countdown of the presidential term. It will be a different institution of presidency that will be released from restrictions of the current presidency, he said.
The Kremlin quickly reacted to those remarks of Vladislav Surkov.
"Not that long ago, Mr. Surkov has become a citizen of the Russian Federation, an individual, who does not work either in the presidential administration or in any other institution. Therefore, this is an opinion of a Russian, although he is a very competent and authoritative person among politicians and political scientists," Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
On February 18, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to dismiss Vladislav Surkov from the post of Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation. Decree entered into force the same day.
The sphere of Russia's policies in relation to Ukraine was entrusted to deputy head of the presidential administration, Dmitry Kozak.
Surkov expressed "words of gratitude" to President Vladimir Putin, "for allowing me to work for him for 20 years and to the best of my ability to participate in his great deeds."
Surkov came to the presidential administration even before Putin - in 1999, when Boris Yeltsin was the head of state.
Surkov had long been in charge of issues of domestic politics. He had authored the concept of so-called "sovereign democracy", which marked a U-turn from the construction of democratic institutions in the style of Western states. Russia thus started searching for its own path of development.
Surkov is considered to be one of the founders and ideologists of the ruling United Russia party, one of the architects of pro-Kremlin youth movements "Walking Together" and "Ours", one of the initiators of the abolition of direct gubernatorial elections.
Surkov was long considered one of the most influential Russian officials, he was called the "gray cardinal of the Kremlin."
At the end of 2011, after protests caused by the results of State Duma elections, Surkov moved to the government as deputy prime minister. In 2013, he returned to the Kremlin and became Putin's assistant for issues of socio-economic cooperation with CIS states, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Reportedly, Surkov covertly served as Putin's special representative in Ukraine during Euromaidan riots and repeatedly traveled to Kiev in early 2014. After the outbreak of the war in the Donbass, Surkov became responsible for the settlement of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine.
Surkov had repeatedly expressed his sympathy for armed groups in eastern Ukraine and their leaders. When the head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, was killed in an explosion, he called him "brother", "tough guy" and "real hero."
In February of 2019, Surkov published an article, in which he called the political model in Russia an effective means of survival and glorification of the Russian nation for the next 100 years.