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24 Jan, 2008 14:06

Interview with Dmitry Rogozin

Russia's new envoy to NATO is geting ready for his job. Dmitriy Rogozin, a former leader of the Motherland party was banned from Moscow's 2005 elections for being xenophobic. Just days before his departure for Brussels, Rogozin spoke to RT.

Was this appointment a surprise for you?
No surprises here, my academic career has been tied to war-and-peace issues, I’m sure I’ll adapt well to the job.

Now let me ask you a few questions about your political past here in Russia. You’ve led a movement against illegal immigration, that is an issue many NATO countries have to deal with, isn’t it?
I was never part of the movement but I dealt with the issue within the State Duma Security Committee and I understand migration and labour migration are unavoidable. But in a world that is facing the threat of terrorism, I’m for controlled and organized migration.

But many here in Russia think you may have gone too far. You’ve earned a reputation as someone who incites ethnic hatred. We all remember you from a TV commercial titled “Let’s clean up Moscow’s garbage” which referred to immigrants from the Caucasus as garbage; you were seen at street rallies with your hand up in a gesture that resembled a Nazi salute. How does someone move from leading a nationalist movement to becoming such a high profile representative of the Russian state?
These are purely the speculations of my political opponents, who in the midst of the election rush, tried to interpret my stand. I come from an intelligent family and I could never call human being ‘garbage’. By garbage I mean disrespect and rudeness and that is what we have to fight against. This critique is natural when someone involved in internal politics is given a diplomatic post. I have nothing to be ashamed of in my political past, I have always served for the good of my country.

What do you think is NATO’s purpose today? If Russia were invited to join, would it do so?
I can say what Russia doesn’t like, but I can’t say we know what we expect of NATO. No one knows what Russia-NATO cooperation will result in, but I’ve always advocated cold peace instead of a hot war. So I hope we all work together for mutual security.

Let’s talk about NATO expansion: seventy per cent of people in Georgia want to join NATO, there is some ambition to join coming from Ukraine. Russia isn’t happy: what would be your first step in Brussels to mediate the situation?
We need to ask our colleagues in NATO why all of a sudden the world is focused on Georgia and Ukraine, why them? Why is this expansion surrounding Moscow, like a bear in its nest, I don’t like that and no-one would like that.

You come across as someone very critical of the northern alliance, are you looking forward to living in Brussels?
It will be my first time residing outside Russia for a long period of time, and it’s not going to be easy.