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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kokh Blames Russians For the Country's Crisis




"Nobody needs" Russia. Its army is such a mess that its nuclear arsenal could be taken away by a single division of paratroopers. Soon the nation will be no more than a "raw materials appendage" of the West, one that will eventually disintegrate into a dozen mini-states. And Russians have no one to blame but themselves and their own stupidity.


That was the bitter conclusion offered by Alfred Kokh, a former deputy prime minister and leading member of the so-called political clan of "young reformers," to the audience of a Russian-language radio station in New York.


Kokh, an ethnic German, spoke of Russians condescendingly in the third person and apparently giggled when offering grim predictions.


Asked if he saw any economic future for Russia, Kokh said, "Me? No," and laughed, then added, "Well, if Primakov sees it, let him work," and laughed again.


He added sarcastically, "They are so in love with themselves, they're still so delighted by their ballet and their classical literature of the 19th century, that they aren't in any condition to do anything new."


When the interviewer observed that it would be nice to hear some good news for the long-suffering Russian people, Kokh interrupted: "This long-suffering people suffers for its own guilt. Nobody occupied them, nobody conquered them, nobody herded them into prisons," Kokh said. "They tattled on each other [to the secret police], jailed each other and shot each other at firing squads. That is why this people deserves to reap what it has sowed."


"No matter how you look at it, it is a bankrupt country," Kokh said.


A transcript of the interview was published in this week's edition of Novaya Gazeta - a newspaper that almost single-handedly hounded Kokh from office last year over his acceptance of a book royalty that looks more like a bribe and his role in some highly controversial privatizations.


Kokh is no longer a player in Russian politics. He left office under a cloud of corruption allegations and prosecutors have accused him of embezzling two Moscow apartments.


But Alexander Minkin, a Novaya Gazeta journalist who has long hounded Kokh, argued that the interview had broader significance for the insight it offered into the thinking of Russia's "young reformers" - including, Minkin said, former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and former privatization chief Anatoly Chubais.The interview is already making waves.


The TV 6 public affairs show "V Mire Lyudei," or "In the World of People," made Kokh's views one of its themes Monday night. Of several hundred Russians who called in, about two-thirds said Kokh should not be let back into Russia.


"You can't punish someone for his thoughts. Why is it that those people I showed this interview to had a desire to punish Kokh? Probably because they understand that he acted [while in government] as he thinks," Minkin wrote in Novaya Gazeta.