You are here

"Foreigners can objectively talk about Belarus only after living there for some time, and not only in Minsk." Interview with Vladimir Pozner

The TV program Simple Questions with Egor Khrustalev met with prominent Russian journalist and TV host Vladimir Pozner.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I really thank you for the fact that you took the time to do this interview. And let me ask you a question. You quite often say at the beginning of each meeting with young journalists that in Russia, journalism as the fourth power, has almost never existed. You said that maybe there was some small fragment of time.

Vladimir Pozner:
A little, yes. A very small fragment.

Audience interest without evaluation collects less interest than those news in which there is some kind of position. But any position in general is propaganda. Do you know media which give pure news?

Vladimir Pozner:
No. Firstly, any position is not necessarily propaganda. Propaganda is always one-sided, and usually is associated with lies, half-truths, the fact that a person knowingly ignores the could potentially weaken a person's position. I understand propaganda in this way. Position is not propaganda. For example, I can say: I believe that ... And then I can explain. I believe that, for example, the United States, to my great regret, have the primary responsibility for what is happening in the Middle East. This is my point of view. And I can explain it. This is not propaganda. I have long thought about it and finally came to this conclusion. 
Secondly, who told you that news without position of a journalist are not popular? I can tell you that the most famous TV presenters in America, in England are able to hide their personal attitude to what is happening so that people just don't know who these journalists vote for. This is a proven fact. Unfortunately, by the way, we see this more and more rarely. Television is becoming more and more biased. And so on. It's everywhere. It is also in Russia, of course. As for Belarus, I cannot say - I do not see. But I can tell you exactly about America. Least of all, perhaps, is in England. Still BBC tries not to do it. Now, if you are interviewing me, I'll answer and tell you my position. But this is not any propaganda. The audience must be informed. If we demand or want to come to a civil society then we need to inform people. People cannot do anything if they are given misinformation.

But there are lots of information sources.

Vladimir Pozner:
Yes.

There's just TV, there is Internet, there are still newspapers, radio stations. What about the absence of propaganda in social networks where there are so many opinions. Why do you say that if we want a civil society, we need to show all the opinions?

Vladimir Pozner:
These are only opinions, there is no information there, on the internet.  God is with them, they can think what they believe is true.

You know, there are always a variety of links.

Vladimir Pozner:
It's all right. But in the end, each person, if they are interested in this, choose the source of information in accordance with what they want to read. So I want to receive information. No editorial points of view or opinions. I may be interested in the views of someone whom I greatly respect, who I think is smart and knowledgeable. Who I feel is honest.  It is a different matter. But I can be looking for information, what really happened. That's what I want.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, can I then ask about my homeland, Belarus? If you had to make an impression on how my country now lives, in general, our society ...

Vladimir Pozner:
Your country. That is Belarus?

Yes. What sources of information would you use?

Vladimir Pozner:
I would not use them. If I had this task, I would first of all come to Belarus. I would live here for some time, I would talk to people, go shopping, and I would not stop only in Minsk.  I probably would not start to read books or articles. I have my own feelings, but they are very old.  I would ask three month to live in Belarus and I would then be able to make my own TV program. Otherwise, I will not do it.  What do I know? I have to go there, I need to talk, I have to live, smell, feel and so on.

This is a huge resource for a one-hour TV program.

Vladimir Pozner:
So what? Otherwise what? Otherwise it would be superficial chatter, some impressions. Listen, movies that we do, that I do, starting with America, then France, Italy, Germany...

Have you lived in all these countries?

Vladimir Pozner:
No, no, wait. Yes, I lived there. No, France and the United States is a separate matter. Germany too. For example, England. I have not lived in England long. The same goes for Italy and Israel.  But were there for a long time. Long. And we communicated with hundreds of people. Hundreds! I'm not exaggerating. And we traveled these countries far and wide. And it is precisely this work that allows you to learn to find out lots of facts about the country. For example, I live in Russia, I have a circle of friends, I do not go to some places where I will never go. But if I make a documentary, I have to go there and talk to people who are outside my circle. And the angle of view changes. You think: "I was of a different opinion about this and that." Only then can you say to your audience: "I think about it in this and this way, and here's why... Reason No1, reason No2 and so on. I'm not saying that they are an ultimate truth, but I tried."

You know, you had a wonderful interlocutor - Igor Bestuzhev-Lada. And he said that, in his opinion, there is now the Fourth World War. The Third World was the Cold War, and the Fourth World is underway today.  One person during an interview told me that there is a theory that in fact the First World War has not ended.   I understand that both are just theories but can we talk about a smoldering war?

Vladimir Pozner:
You know, we can play words. But words matter. The war - do we know what it is? This is physical collision, the killing of many people, it has two sides.  The First World War was already in the XX century. Then the Second, then the Cold War. Now that's a word game. Why was it cold? Because there were nuclear weapons. And so no one dared because hot war in those times would mean the end of the world we know.  Someone coined this wonderful expression - the Cold War. I do not even remember who coined this expression. And now there are many local wars but there is no World War IV. These all are images.  Images is a good thing. But let us specify. Do you understand? There was no Iron Curtain, we understand that. The iron curtain is just an image.  But it was fairly accurate in the sense that one part of the world was virtually cut off from the other.  The Cold War is a good image. The Fourth World War is a bad one. This confuses us.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, I read your book Parting With Illusions two times. It is clear that there you say not only about the illusions that you as a young man felt towards the Soviet Union. As far as I understand you do not feel particular illusions in relation to other countries.

Vladimir Pozner:
No.

But you yourself once asked a question and I sometimes quote you. When you talk about Russia you ask: "Okay, you want Russia to like what?" You even once said: "Let Russia be at least like Portugal." You meant probably incomes.

Vladimir Pozner:
I mean what Putin said.

But when we argue, for example, with my colleagues, talk about Belarus and talk about how we live, at what point we are, we see the war in Ukraine, we see our neighbors in Lithuania, where, for example, a lot of young people leave for work (they have this opportunity). We see Poland and Russia. And that's the question I also ask "What should be a role model for us?" How would you answer this question? Suppose I know we discussed what you do not know how now Belarus lives. But judging by geopolitics what should a country like Belarus take as an example?

Vladimir Pozner:
It is very difficult to answer this question, but I can do it only very vaguely. For example, if you look at the map of Europe. There are countries, in my opinion, similar to Belarus in the sense that they are located around all sorts of bigger and stronger neighbors. And yet, they are even doing well. For example, Belgium.

But Belgium has another history.

Vladimir Pozner:
History. I'm just saying Belgium. Here is France and Germany. And Belgium. Although they also have big problems and conflicts... Flemish, German and French, one does not like the other. I think Belarus is similar to Belgium. From one side there is Russia, a huge country (and in this sense it is not a pleasant neighborhood, maybe). On the other hand, there is Poland. The country that has Catholic roots, perhaps, not very friendly, maybe since many Poles do not understand what Belarus is.

They have questions. Sometimes at least.

Vladimir Pozner:
But it seems to me that the problem is different. I put the question of how I want to live. And I look around me, how others live.

Here we are in the same situation, we are looking.

Vladimir Pozner:
I can say, "I like that. In that country I like this and this." Then I think what I can do to get it and achieve the same level in something. Do I want to be responsible myself or do I want the authorities to be responsible? This is a basic question.  Do the authorities need to ensure my well-being? Or should I do something myself? This is one of the fundamental questions!

This is a good question to one person.

Vladimir Pozner:
This is a question for everyone. How else can we live? A country consists of one man multiplied by many others. How do people want to live?  Do they want to be responsible for something? These are the same basic things. Many Soviet people (I know them, they are of a certain age) miss a communal apartment. They want back the times when they all had one toilet.

Mr Putin, I took probably your precious time. I must confess that to interview you was my very old dream.

Vladimir Pozner:
Come on.

And I did not expect that it may come true.

Vladimir Pozner:
I am very glad that we did it!

Maybe we will talk once again in the future?

Vladimir Pozner:
I will not refuse.
I really wanted to interview your President. I know him very superficially. I had been at a party, along with other journalists, many years ago, when Boris Berezovsky brought a whole group of ORT journalists, not only ORT. In Minsk, we were hosted by Mr Lukashenko, for dinner. And it would be very interesting to interview him.

I sincerely thank you for this interview.

Vladimir Pozner:
Thank you.

For me it was a great honor.

Vladimir Pozner:
Thank you for coming to Moscow!

You know, I would have gone further if you agreed because I did not expect such openness and that you would find time. Thank you.

Vladimir Pozner:
Thank you.

Foreigners can objectively speak of Belarus only after living there for some time, and not only in Minsk. Interview with Vladimir Pozner