Saturday, May 28, 2016


Russia

Meet Yevgeny Fyodorov, The Russian Lawmaker Who Wants More Western Sanctions

State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov at a 2014 press conference
State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fyodorov at a 2014 press conference
By Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW -- Russia’s economy is tanking. The price of oil has flat-lined. New western sanctions are in the pipeline. One proposal -- to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT payment system -- could wreak havoc on the financial system. 

And Yevgeny Fyodorov is delighted about it. 

“We’re really looking forward to being cut off from SWIFT,” Fyodorov, a hard-line lawmaker with the United Russia party, said in an interview in his State Duma office. “I’m a supporter of sanctions.”

It's not that Fyodorov is a glutton for pain. He just believes that Russia has been a “colony” of the United States since the Cold War. And if more sanctions isolate Russia from the West, all the better.

“Cutting us off from SWIFT will allow the Russian banking system to start working,” Fyodorov says, adding that the sanctions already in place are helping repatriate Russian wealth.

“We’re really happy about sanctions which allow us to bring Russian assets including the oligarchs' into national jurisdiction. It’s happening slowly, but sanctions are creating the conditions for this.”

His love for sanctions isn't the only area where Fyodorov's views are unusual. 

A self-professed "revanchist," he also says he wants to redraft the Russian Constitution, establish a ruling national ideology, abolish the office of the president in its current form, and establish a strong and unaccountable executive similar to the old Soviet Politburo.

He maintains that Russia lost its sovereignty when the USSR collapsed, that the country's media is controlled by the West, and that technocrats in the government constitute a traitorous "fifth column."

“Our strategic goal is to change the rules of the Russian state in favor of the national course,” he says.

He adds that he wants "to reverse the results of defeat" following the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union "and the decisions that were made because of this defeat. We are revanchists."

Fyodorov is serving his fourth term in the State Duma. His office is adorned with many of the accoutrements of a hardcore Russian patriot: a model Proton rocket, a portrait of a young Vladimir Putin, a Novorossia mug, and a St. George flag.

Fyodorov says he has already drafted amendments to the constitution that would remove Article 13's ban on state ideology, and has already gathered "a couple dozen" signatures. 

"We need to wait for the political conditions to come about in the same way that they did in Crimea," he said, referring to Russia's largely unrecognized annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine last year. 

"As soon as the political conditions arrive, Putin will support this process and Russia will carry out a referendum on changing its Constitution toward sovereignty."

In addition to his legislative initiatives, he also founded the National Liberation Movement, known by its Russian acronym NOD, at the height of anti-Kremlin protests in 2011-12.The group became increasingly visible at opposition rallies, where they taunted demonstrators and chanted pro-Kremlin slogans.


Tom Balmforth

Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics.

 

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