Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Surkov: No Orange Revolution in Russia

The opposition should not entertain illusions that an Orange Revolution is possible in Russia, senior Kremlin official Vladislav Surkov said in a wide-ranging interview published in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.

"There will undoubtedly be attempts to overthrow the government. But they will fail," said Surkov, deputy head of the Kremlin administration, in an interview published Monday. Surkov also said that he respected jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and that Russia should work harder to be "accepted" by the West.

Surkov ruled out an uprising in the wake of either parliamentary or presidential elections in 2007 and 2008 respectively, but he said that pro-democracy protests in Georgia and Ukraine had "made an impression" on Russian politicians.

"There will be no uprisings here," said Surkov, who oversees the Kremlin's relations with political parties, parliament and youth organizations. "We realize, of course, that these events have made an impression on many local politicians in Russia -- and on various foreign nongovernmental organizations that would like to see the scenario repeated in Russia."

Surkov warned about a possible future victory for leftist and nationalist parties, such as the Communists and Rodina. "With all due respect, I cannot imagine what would happen to the country if they came to power," he said.

Dmitry Orlov, head of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications, a think tank, said that Surkov's comments indicated that the Kremlin was in favor of a successor to President Vladimir Putin taking power in 2008, when Putin's second term ends.

The Der Speigel interview appeared after Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov appointed Vladimir Yakunin, a close associate of Putin's, to head the state-run Russian Railways, or RZD, last week. The appointment to lead the railroad monopoly could be interpreted as grooming Yakunin as a possible successor to Putin, Orlov said.

Surkov also said that radical youth organizations, including the National Bolshevik party, "represent a danger that cannot be underestimated."

By comparison, the pro-Kremlin Nashi, or Us, youth movement involves young people in the kind of politics that would not jeopardize the government, Surkov said.

Surkov has been widely credited with playing a leading role in organizing this pro-Kremlin youth group, as well as in the formation of the United Russia and Rodina parties.

The National Bolsheviks are known for holding high-profile demonstrations and stunts, such as seizing a Kremlin reception office, but in recent years have tended to steer clear of the racist rhetoric of radical nationalist and Neo-Nazi groups.

Yet, when asked about the National Bolsheviks, Surkov replied that "chauvinist, pro-fascist forces" could provoke "a wave of Islamic extremism," which would threaten Russia's territorial integrity.

Surkov, whose father is an ethnic Chechen, accused radical Islamic groups of trying to destabilize the North Caucasus in hopes of wresting the area from Russian control. He said these groups had been able to operate due to the failure of the authorities to enforce the law.

On Russia's relations with the West, Surkov said Russia should work to be accepted by the West, which he said "doesn't have to love us."

"In fact, we should ask ourselves more often why people are so suspicious of us. ... If we want to be accepted, we have to do something in return. And it's an art that we have yet to master," Surkov said.

Surkov said he did not push for the arrest and conviction of Khodorkovsky and said that he respected him for his work as a senior executive in Group Menatep, where Surkov also worked before becoming a Kremlin official.

"For personal reasons, I find it difficult to take a position on this case. I was on Khodorkovsky's payroll myself for 10 years. I'm biased because I respect him, which is one reason I prefer not to comment. Besides, the verdict is still under appeal."