Putin can turn into a new Brezhnev

Author : Dmytro Gordon

Respondent : Sergei Khrushchev

Source : 112 Ukraine

Find out an exclusive interview with Khrushchev on Russia, Crimea, Maidan, Putin, and Stalin
09:10, 7 September 2017

Read the original text at


Good evening, Mr. Khrushchev. I would like to say that you are not just Khrushchev's son, but a well-known rocket scientist, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of the Lenin Prize. For a long time you were with your father, took part in numerous visits, traveled the country. It was you who during the life of Nikita Sergeyevich edited his memories and forwarded them for publication abroad. Since 1991, you live in the US, teach at Brown University and are a professor. What would your father, who threatened to show America "kuzkina mother," have said if say that you live in the US and have American citizenship?

Khrushchev: Firstly, I am retired, I do not teach at the university anymore. I think, my father would not say anything, because I moved at a time when we had good relations. He did not force me to anything. I live in America, I am a patriot of Russia. By the way, I am patriot of Ukraine, too. And patriot of America.

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What are Kyiv and Ukraine, where you have lived for many years, for you?

Everything. I lived there for several years. These are memories, Dnipro river, sand, the sun, people, and Ukrainian language. Ukrainian friends of mine. I have many friends here. In my time, not everyone and not always spoke Ukrainian.

How did you react to the Maidan 2013-2014 in Kyiv?

With a great regret. I believe that this project of changing power in Ukraine interrupted its development, democratic one; it has interrupted Ukraine’s movement towards Europe, destroyed the economy.

But did you understand that it was a popular uprising against the thieves and for the European choice of development?

No, I did not understand, and now I do not understand it. Yanukovych spoke in my presence – I have personally been to those meetings – that Ukraine's goal is to go to Europe and become a member of the EU. Ukraine, as a connecting country between Russia and the EU, had to go gradually, acting in its own interests, its own benefit. By the way, Prime Minister Azarov did it during his term. I think he was the best prime minister of all I know. If Ukraine went gradually instead of running ahead of the situation (I am talking about signing up the papers, it would be much better for a longer-term perspective). There was a protest of the youth, which believed that now they would l go to Europe, and visas would be canceled. But they were dispersed. Then, as I understand it, the professionals who were supposed to share Ukraine and Russia, have brought down the power, violated the Constitution, and now it is what it is. Unfortunately.

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In recent years, your father was vowed in Russia for the fact that in 1954 he gave Crimea to Ukraine. Why, by the way, did he do it?

If you look at the map, you will see that Crimea is “attached” to Ukraine. When Crimea began to be engaged, the channel was built (which currently is buried), the State Planning Committee said it was better if it is built under the same legal entity. And they transferred Crimea to Ukraine just like many other regions. It was not a political decision, as people like to say in Russia: "An attempt to please the Ukrainian bureaucracy." It was not even "a gift to my mother," who was born in Western Ukraine. No, this is purely a structural decision, a correct one.

Your father dethroned the cult of Stalin, released millions of people out of the camps. Why people in modern Russia do not like Khrushchev so much. In my opinion, his historical merit is so great there.

They do not like him, because today the elite that has come to power, belonged to the secret police in the past. Stalin created a police state and managed it through the NKVD. Those people, who call themselves Russian patriots, believe that this was the most effective scheme.

Does Russia adore strong dictators?

Everyone loves strong dictators. Until you have moved to democracy, you love strong dictators, because it seems to you that he will do everything right. And when it turns out that he is doing wrong, either it is too late, or he is brought down. My students from Pakistan say the same to me. So Russia or Ukraine are still far from democracy.

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Many Russian politicians say that their people need Stalin, and now Putin is the original choice of the Russian people. Do you agree with this?

Nobody knows whom the people needs. Therefore, this is the difference between democracy and authoritarian power; democracy has the rule of law. And one of the main uses of this law is the shift of power. I believe that after ten years a person must leave power because he has already worked himself out. He has already implemented all his ideas, or failed to do it. Russia is afraid of new people. This is a normal period of child’s development. And when people stay too long in powerful offices, the country begins to rot, it does not adjust to the external conditions and, in general, goes to the revolution. After all, it was not Lenin was not brought people to the revolution, but Alexander III, Nikolay II. And then it was not Gorbachev and not Yeltsin, but Brezhnev, who stopped this adjustment.

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Did your father say anything to you about the fact that Stalin was going to be the first to attack?

Stalin was unbelievably afraid of Hitler. He told about this. When Hitler captured Paris, Stalin panicked: he was afraid to stay alone in his summer cottage. He understood that Hitler had a great force, he was a great threat, and Stalin hoped that he would succeed in appeasing Hitler and detaining him so that he did not attack us. At that time Stalin’s attack against Germany would be something like today’s North Korean attack against the United States.

What do you think about Stalin today?

Stalin was a bandit. He seized power, discredited it, in many ways. He removed from power many very worthy people who could ensure more efficient development of economy and politics. Probably, we would not have suffered such a huge loss in the war, if Stalin believed his generals in Stalingrad. Stalin was a big trouble for Russia, like every dictator is.

Related: Doubles of Pushkin and Lenin fought in Red Square, Moscow

What do you think about Putin?

I think that Vladimir Putin is a leader in three hypostases. During the first period of 2000-2008, Putin was a very effective leader who destroyed the power of the oligarchy, restored the rule of law. They began to pay money, the Russians began to live better. The second Putin’s period, after 2008, when he had already realized that the first stage had been passed. Gaidar's gang destroyed the economy entirely. The country has become an exporter of gas and oil. The country needed to transform and restore normal economy. He tried, but it did not work, unfortunately. He tried again, and again. Now, apparently, he realized for himself that he does not get it - neither with aviation, nor with shipbuilding. He does what he likes, instead of meeting with peasants and directors - he talks with the Minister of Defense, with the security services. He loves military maneuvers.

Putin's time is over, don’t you think so?

Putin's time has expired in 2008. If he had quit then from power, he would have been left in history as a great leader who restored normal power instead of oligarchy, just like T. Roosevelt in America. And now he can turn into a new Brezhnev.

So what will happen to Putin, in your opinion?

I do not know. I do not know what will happen to Putin or Poroshenko, I just know what will happen to Trump: in four years, probably, he will not be elected.

Don’t you think that impeachment would be announced earlier?

Impeachment in America can be announced if you violated the Constitution, violated the law. And the only way to do this is to break the oath. It happened to Nixon. A similar situation was with Clinton. Trump perfectly knows it.

And what will happen to Russia?

Nothing. If Ukraine is a bridge between Russia and Europe, then Russia is a bridge between the east and the west. Between China and the West. It is a rich country, rich in natural resources. It was fastened to the west until 2014, and now, after sanctions, it is pushed to China. The transitional process will end and it will be a partner of China. Russia will not be a great power. It will not be a superpower. But it will always be in full eye and will remain a world player.

Which Ukrainian politicians do you like?

In some years, I liked Mykola Azarov. I liked Kuchma. He was a quick man, a business man. The economy began to grow with him. He was an effective leader. And now I do not see anyone there who would evoke positive emotions, to my great regret.

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Who, in your opinion, is the best Ukrainian president, for 26 years of independence?


Today, issue of Bandera and Shukhevych [leaders of Ukraine’s nationalists in 20 century – Ed.] is very topical in Ukraine. What do you know about them?

They are militants, ultranationalists. Like today's Islamists, they defended their idea of Ukraine's independence. They fought against Poland, fought against the Soviet Union. There people were very cruel. I would not rename streets in their honor. But, when Ukraine is trying to find itsself-identification today, it is looking for its heroes. Earlier, itd heroes were someone like Shchors, and now it can be Shukhevych or Petlyura.

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What will happen to Ukraine, in your opinion?

I think that Ukraine, like Russia, is in very serious condition. It is experiencing a great tragedy. And, unfortunately, armed people in many ways determine the policy; it will continue to fight. It is possible that in a fairly close time, Luhansk and Donetsk will pass a point of no return. They will not join either Russia or Ukraine - they will be such an unrecognized republic. By the way, people from there tell me that they are living even better than in Ukraine: I do not know whether it is true or not. Previously, there was a balance: one party is from the Western Ukrainian, while the other is from the Eastern Ukraine. The East Ukrainian party is now destroyed. And I do not see how to restore the economy, because it was tied to Russia. And today it is not connected to anyone. Unfortunately, no one needs Ukraine now. America does not need it. It is a burden for Europe. It is still needed by Russia, but, probably, soon it will end.

Whom did you vote for in the US presidential election?

I have voted for Trump. I think that he was more suitable than Hillary, because he is a leader, a self-sufficient person, who knows how to make decisions. And America needs it very much. America is gradually degrading - it reminds me today of Brezhnev's Russia. Every year, living conditions are getting a little bit worse; no one invests money in science, and six trillion dollars spent on adventures in the Middle East.

Many thanks to you for this conversation. I did not agree with everything that you said. But I feel great respect for you, for your opinion. I hope that you today were able to appreciate the pluralism of opinions in Ukraine.

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