Interview with Dmitry Peskov
RT: A lot of international news organisations are here in Moscow. What do you think of the level of interest shown in this election?
Dmitry Peskov: It is understandable, the very high level of interest, I mean an election is a transfer of power, a legitimate transfer, in such a great and big country like Russia, it cannot stay away from high interest from abroad and from domestic media – it is quite natural.
RT: You say legitimate – many people question this. How do you react when some people say that this was not a fair election – how do you respond to that?
D.P.: It is very interesting to mention that actually they started to insist on non-legitimacy of these elections before they even happened. So, this means that all this criticism is nothing more than old prejudices based on old stereotypes. Certainly, you have to criticise something, including elections in such a big country like Russia, they cannot be ideal, there are lots of technical disorders being reported to the Central Election Committee and all the measures are taken. But you cannot say that prior, you cannot say that without seeing them.
RT: Your job is a press attaché to fight against that. How easy has it been to counter these sorts of comments and stereotypes with the Western media?
D.P.: Extremely difficult. Sometimes the stereotypes that I have mentioned were overwhelming. Let’s remember one year ago when President Putin was insisting that he was not going to make any plot and that he is not going to stay for a third term, changing the Russian Constitution – no one would believe him. He repeated that hundreds and hundreds of times – but no one would believe him. Now, when this year is over and when President Putin is an acting President and our country has already a President elect, now everybody sees President Putin and President elect Medvedev, they are devoted to the Russian Constitution and the same thing would be about the legitimacy of Russian election.
RT: If you read the British press, for example, they wouldn’t believe that, would they?
D.P.: Some of them would believe some of them would not. And our job is to increase the amount of those who would believe and we are doing our best. Unfortunately, we are not wizards and we cannot convince all of them. Some of them are really, let’s say, like they are living in the Cold War era.
RT: Do you think the image of the new president will have effect on that? A lot of analysts say that even wearing an open shirt and no tie has a very sort of western style about Medvedev, those things are important, they can make Russia more accessible.
D.P.: Actually, they are different people, I mean Putin and Medvedev are different people and although they are really partners. They used to be partners over the last decade even before they came to Moscow from St. Petersburg, working there in the mayor’s office. They know each other very closely. They actually support each other’s attitude towards the main issues of the development of this country and international politics, but certainly they are different people and those styles are different, they are not twins in the end. Mr Medvedev will be the head of state, he will be determining international politics of the Russian Federation, enjoying full scope of presidency in accordance with Russian Constitution. But certainly the main course will stay the same, because the course that was formed during two terms of the presidency of Mr Putin is known to be supported by president elect Medvedev.
RT: Do you see your job changing at all?
D.P.: Well, my job is not important, what is important that now we have potential time and all those ambitious plans will start to be implemented into reality.
RT: As a press attaché, are you an adviser as well or are you more of an organizer, a PR man – what is it exactly?
D.P.: A bit of all of these, I mean the scope is quite wide but we are a press service, press information office of the President. Dealing with information you have to deal with everything.
RT: Quite a few bureau chiefs of international newspapers are here and they say, actually, that the freedom of information is very good but sometimes they find it difficult to battle through the bureaucracy trying to get some information. What sort of relationship do you forge, particularly with the foreign news agencies here? Are you trying to make it easy for them?
D.P.: We are doing our best and actually the culture of openness in the ministries and different bodies of our state is something that cannot come overnight, to become really transparent.
RT: Is that a bureaucratic problem?
D.P.: Well, it is a problem of information culture. But it is getting better day by day. I know it from my friends working in media – they really witness some improvements, but certainly they are complaining about their problems.
RT: When you look back at this period of your job, what would your thoughts be?
D.P.: That it was an unbelievable time, that it was an unbelievable experience that will actually serve as a very good basis for whatever I will do in future.
RT: You are a diplomat?
D.P.: Yes and I am proud of it.
RT: Do you see you career continues with this?
D.P.: I do not think that we have to spend so much time on my humble self.
RT: What are your thoughts about the future of diplomacy and the diplomatic relations with Russia and the rest of the world?
D.P.: Actually, Russia has an ambitious plan for domestic development, for improving the quality of life of its population. And a country oriented at domestic development is the last country in the world that would seek confrontation. So Russia will inevitably seek equal partnership, mutually beneficial relationship with the rest of the world including Britain and the US.