Sunday, October 19, 2014

An RI Exclusive, Oliver Stone's Full Moscow Interview On Russia and Ukraine
The iconic film maker totally nails it, understands Russia and Ukraine better than the whole US media combined
INTERVIEW 

Fri, Oct 17


"On the internet you can find good reporters who do not work for a lot of
 money, but it’s their mission." 

(He's talking about RI! - editors)

Oliver Stone, one of America's most celebrated film makers, was in Moscow in September, working on his upcoming biopic of Edward Snowden and a new documentary about the Ukraine catastrophe.

He gave this long interview to a major Russian newspaper. Small parts of it have been published in English elsewhere, but we got our hands on the original transcript, and are delighted to share it with you here, in full, for the first time.

In the interview, Stone slams America's foreign policy, media and historical revisionism.

Stone is a remarkable phenomenon on the American cultural scene. Best known for a slew of iconic films like Wall Street, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July , he has also created many films that are harshly critical of the US - about the JFK assassination, 9/11, US funded terrrorism in Latin America, Richard Nixon, Vietnam, corruption on Wall Street, and Cuba. He is an ardent defender of Edward Snowden, which is why he's making a movie about him.

He is an outspoken and relentless critic of much that is wrong with America today.

His latest film, which aired in the US in 2012, is a 10-part documentary about the history of the US since WW2, which he describes as the most important thing he has ever done. In the film, he seeks to debunk what he sees as lies which are widely taught to Americans, and largely accepted as true. The series will air on Russian television in the near future.

This is an extraordinary interview. We agree wholeheartedly with most of what he says. We found ourselves wondering, how is it possible, that this man, not a professional journalist or historian, understands what is going on in Ukraine and Russia and the mess the US has gotten itself into, better than the combined western media and Washington policy makers?

One reason is that he gets his news from blogs, not from the mainstream media.

  • We pulled what we thought were some of the best quotes from the article. Sorry for the long list, there were just so many of them!
  • "We are hurting ... ourselves. Russia will find new partners in the East and Eurasia. ... Russia will go on with or without sanctions."
  • "Today it is impossible to get the truth from [the American media]."
  • "And now with the crisis in Ukraine stories continue to be false... (the) American people are being fed by television and other media with stories about Russian aggression. This is very dangerous."
  • "In my opinion, Russia is a natural ally of the United States.... it’s a shame."
  • "I think many Americans would agree with me that the United States is on the wrong path - the path of war and aggression."
  • "America is trying to surround China and Russia. The prize in this fight is Eurasia where the biggest resources lie."
  • "The people in Washington feel that we have a right to rule the world, and so it’s in our interest to destabilize Russia: divide Ukraine, to change the government in Moscow. It started a few years ago. Remove Putin, remove new Russia, and then go after China."
  • "I’m working with Ukrainian producers who are making a documentary 'Ukraine on fire' about the history of the crisis in that country."
  • "When Putin took the Snowden decision or, for example, when he made an offer to destroy chemical weapons in Syria, he really helped the world and contributed to the peace on our planet."
  • "I'm working on a drama about Edward Snowden. ... We hope to start shooting early next year and have it out by the end of 2015...I met [Snowden] in Moscow, as well as with many other people around this situation."
  • "Russians have a completely different point of view on the First and the Second World Wars. Americans don’t understand a lot of the history of these wars ...I care very much about teaching history to younger people."
  • "The crisis in Ukraine in some way is as serious to me as the Cuba crisis in 1961-62 years and the Berlin situation. It's scary to me."
  • "In my opinion, the Russian destruction of most of the German military machine saved at least a million American lives."
  • "We had to thank the Russian for that, to be their allies and to trust them. But President Truman and business elite in Wall Street hadn’t a single moment of thanks. American bankers and the rich have always hated Russia."
  • "In 2008...I just felt so depressed about what was happening to the United States - my country that I love. Bush distorted everything I believed in as a child and as a young man. I began to study American history..."
  • "...the United States had misrepresented the spirit in which Gorbachev made the agreement with Bush on the reunification of Germany, the expansion of NATO and others..."
  • "The United States is a strange country. Studying its history one can come to a conclusion that it always needs an enemy, whether it’s a communism or something else."
  • "The United States wanted to make Russia a capitalist country, sending its experts, so-called Harvard boys, who advised and freed up economy. And the result was a gangster economy."
  • "Taking back the state back from the hands of the gangsters was a very important move for Russia. On that basis I certainly admire Putin as a strong man."
  • "People in Moscow ... have a deep soul, and when you spend time with them, you realize that they are warm and giving people. Certainly it’s not the picture painted of Russia or Putin. I like Russian people."
  • "I understand why Putin could not give up Crimea. Western institutions - EU, NATO, IMF - would like to have influence, run and control Ukraine."

"It is the United States that is invasive and pushing constantly the limits of patience of Russia, as it was with NATO's eastward expansion. It’s a very dangerous situation."
"For a man who went to war McCain seems to have learned nothing. In my mind he was on the wrong side of every political decision the United States made since the Vietnam war. I think something is wrong with him."
"The United States never experienced war, we don’t know how devastating is it. ... We go and bring harm to others, militarize countries and regions."

Here are some selected topics from the interview:

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On War and American Militarism

The United States has never experienced war, we don’t know how devastating is it. And as a result we don’t respect war and what it means. We go and bring harm to others, militarize countries and regions. We will not understand war until it happens to us. It's a blessing we are isolated by two great oceans, it is a great geopolitical advantage. But it will not always be like that, if we continue to act in this aggressive spirit. I am certain that history’s karma will come around and punish the American people. In a very careless way, Americans consider themselves outside and apart from history, but it's not the case. You do not escape history. History always catches up to you.

On Journalism

I’m reading American newspapers to see where the lies are. I think it's like reading “Pravda" or “Izvestiya” in the old days. Today it is impossible to get the truth from official sources. This is the reality for the United States too. Our TV is even worse than newspapers. Their reports are more sensational, but they almost never analyze, rarely going beyond the surface.

And I have never read such bullshit about the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Everybody was pointing to Russian problems and flaws, there were negative stories about Putin. And now with the crisis in Ukraine stories continue to be false. I get news from other sources, not only from American newspapers. But American people are being fed by television and other media with stories about Russian aggression. This is very dangerous.

On US Covert Operations

The United States is very good at covert operations designed to manipulate public opinion. For many years we have practiced regime change in many countries. Now it’s going on in Venezuela, where the US has used soft and hard power, using tools ranging from economic pressure to provocative publications in the media. These techniques were developed and used in Ukraine, with the National Endowment for Democracy. Their goal was to overthrow the government and replace it with a pro-Western government.

On MH-17

There’s a part of this story that has been overlooked. The United States has, as we know thanks to Mr. Snowden, comprehensive intelligence capabilities all around the globe, and especially in Ukraine in such an important moment. So why hasn't the US released any photos of this event? That tells you a lot. It seems like they don’t want people to know about the Ukrainian fighter jet in the air. And how can you miss quite a large “Buk” complex that includes some large rockets? The United States didn’t present any evidence that these missiles came to Ukraine from Russia. I also read that Russia had given such complexes to the Ukrainian army before the crisis even began. So the evidence are far from conclusive. In the UK experts are working on "black boxes", but the results of the investigation will be revealed in 2015 - it’s too late. My hunch is that "bad guys" in the Ukrainian government shut down the plane. I'm not sure, but that’s my hunch.

On NATO Expansion

I went to see Mr. Gorbachev a few months ago. He disapproves of what the United States has done, calling it a betrayal of Russia and the spirit of agreements made with George Bush Snr. They were nothing on paper, but there was a spirit. That spirit was violated first by Bill Clinton and again by George W Bush and Barack Obama. Since then, 13 states have joined Nato. For Russia this is a nightmare. NATO was finished after the end of the Cold War; there were no reasons for the western alliance to continue. It was a defensive alliance to protect Western Europe; it has since become an offensive alliance that incorporated Eastern Europe and is putting a missile shield near the border with Russia

On Sanctions

It’s a shame. We are hurting Russia; hurting ourselves. Russia will find new partners in the East and Eurasia. They just signed new trade agreement with China. Russia will go on with or without sanctions. It’s a shame, but that’s the US style of doing things: they squeeze through the economy; through the media. You need patience to fight the dragon. I think Putin knows this, he is a very smart man; he already has experience like this. After 9/11, Putin was the first guy to call Bush. Russia had its own problems with the Chechen terrorists, and knew the power of Islamist terrorism. Therefore, in my opinion, Russia is a natural ally of the United States. Oh, it’s a shame.

And here's the entire interview:

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- Recently Steven Seagal was in Crimea and was gifted a similar t-shirt with Putin "Polite people”. Mickey Rourke also worn it and posed for photographers in Moscow’s GUM. However, later Rourke’s assistant admitted that there was a call from the US State Department and the actor was urged to be more reserved in expression of his love with Russia. Would you be afraid to wear this t-shirt with Putin somewhere in LA?

I honestly don’t believe that State Department called them and said that. I don’t think they legally have right to do that. The US citizens are supposed to be able to express themselves. I probably would not wear this t-shirt in public, because it would be provocative. And I don’t want to be provocative. Sometimes my words may sound provocative, but I usually try to maintain a low profile. I think I have the right to speak as a citizen of the US. If I don’t say what I think, I give in to the fear and the conformity that I hate.

- Yes, it’s difficult to suggest that you are afraid of having your own opinion. Is that scary to stand alone against the most powerful US propaganda machine?

- I would not put question this way. I think many Americans would agree with me that the United States is on the wrong path - the path of war and aggression. America can only go up, and the world domination is the goal. Russia and China remain independent powers with nuclear capabilities, and this is very important, it's good for the world in terms of the balance of power. I think that the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger would agree with me. Without this balance, the United States would become the sole superpower. In this role America misbehaved starting wars in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, militarizing Libya. The US has a goal to control the world's resources, control and police the whole world. Now America is trying to surround China and Russia. The prize in this fight is Eurasia where the biggest resources lie.

- But why the Americans are pushing Russia towards China. Isn’t that insane?

You know, in my opinion, an alliance between China and Russia in Eurasia is natural, as well as their partnership with other countries, such as Kazakhstan. That is the future. If the countries in the region agree that the United States is a threat in terms of control over resources, there may be problems. But America will not give it up, because the people in Washington feel that we have a right to rule the world, and so it’s in our interest to destabilize Russia: divide Ukraine, to change the government in Moscow. It started a few years ago. Remove Putin, remove new Russia, and then go after China.

- In an interview you said that you are interested in making films about America's perceived enemies: Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez. Do you think about making a movie about Vladimir Putin, whom the Western media called America's enemy N1?

Movies about Chavez and Castro were talking interviews, documentaries. It’s different from drama. I’m working with Ukrainian producers who are making a documentary "Ukraine on fire" about the history of the crisis in that country. I'm one of the producers in this project, and they would like me to interview Vladimir Putin. We made such a proposal. I can’t say for sure whether that happens or not, it's up to Mr. Putin. There also will be interviews with other people. But I'm not the director or the main producer, so it's a bit different from my other works. Now I'm working on a drama about Edward Snowden. I can’t do two films at the same time.

- There were reports in Internet, where people don’t lie, that Oliver Stone supposedly is going to make a film about the neo-nazis in Ukraine.

No, it's just another rumor, although I know of the involvement of neo-nazis in Ukraine. I don’t see myself doing another documentaries for now. I’ve been working for about a year on a film about Snowden and one other project.

- Do you mean “Untold History of the USA”?

Yes, I and Peter Kuznik just finished a 12-hour long documentary series "The Untold History of the United States". It will be shown on Channel One in Russia. The book came out of the film, not the usual other way around. I’ve been accused so many times by my critics of distorting the truth, so we decided to substantiate what we’re saying in the film with the book. While creating the book, as well as the film, we were working with three different groups of fact checkers. We tried to make it as good as we could.

We’ve sold “Untold History” in many countries. I am happy that after much effort managed to release the book and the TV series in Russia. Russians have a completely different point of view on the First and the Second World Wars. Americans don’t understand a lot of the history of these wars, and we deal with that in the book. Russian might say, "Well, we know this." In the United States – they don’t. We wrote the book and did the TV series for young people, my daughter and sons, so that they can learn this history. I went all over the country with Peter, all over the world in fact, talking to students. For example, this weekend we’re going to Arkansas to show the fifth chapter, which tells about the immigration crisis in 1957 under president Eisenhower. I care very much about teaching history to younger people.

The book addresses such controversial issues as the First and the Second World War, "Cold War", the US-USSR relations. The crisis in Ukraine is at the end of this long history. I am very interested in the history of these relations between the two countries, and it is a very large and complex issue.

The crisis in Ukraine in some way is as serious to me as the Cuba crisis in 1961-62 years and the Berlin situation. It's scary to me.

- You know about neo-nazis in Ukraine. Do you monitor the situation there?

In fact, in Ukraine there’s a lot of Russian. If you go back to World War II, there were very bloody fights in Ukraine and a lot of Russian died there, fighting the Nazis, as well as those Ukrainians troops who allied with the Germans. But Americans don’t know that and don’t understand that Russia saved the world from Hitler, that the Soviet army destroyed it. The German war machine was awesome, even at the end of war. They were willing to fight to the end. As well as USSR. That was a blood bath. In my opinion, the Russian destruction of most of the German military machine saved at least a million American lives. In that war 300 plus thousand Americans were killed. Imagine if we had to enter the war earlier. If, for example, the Soviet Union after defeating the Germans at Stalingrad and Kursk would refuse to go further alone, and let the allies to fight the rest of the war. This was the fear for Churchill and Roosevelt. The US could have lost a million more soldiers. Imagine how many children wouldn’t have fathers and grandfathers. It would have changed the whole nature of the American’s arrogance after World War II, when we were in such powerful position. We had to thank the Russian for that, to be their allies and to trust them. But President Truman and business elite in Wall Street hadn’t a single moment of thanks. American bankers and the rich have always hated Russia, hated communism. Truman speaking in the Senate in 1942 said - let Soviet and German troops to kill each other, we’ll benefit from that. That was the mentality of Truman.

- Many people in America still have little knowledge about Russia. You’ve been to Russia several times. How do you see the dynamics of the country? What’s going on with Russia?

I can see it on the surface, I'm no expert in this. I do not speak Russian, I don’t go to the villages, there’s no much contact there. I see the face of Russia from Moscow and St. Petersburg. I was in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s, when Leonid Brezhnev was still in power, to interview dozen of soviet dissidents. I went to see them to Baku, Yerevan, Kiev, Leningrad, Minsk, Moscow, Odessa, Sevastopol and Tbilisi. For me as an outsider it was a horrible regime, and the country seemed very tired: severe repression, terrible food and services, everything was falling apart. And the United States were pressing, including on human rights issues, to break apart the USSR. I was very hopeful, as many people were, with Mikhail Gorbachev. The world seemed to breath, it was springtime for peace. In the period from 1986 to 1989, it seemed that it was about to happen. When in 1989 the United States invaded Panama, I was disappointed. Then in 1991 the operation in Kuwait was launched. There was a feeling that the hopes for a new world order collapsed. War in Kuwait kept America on the rails of militarization. So the United States didn’t change very much after the deal with the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union I was so hopeful again that there would be some changes. But no. I didn’t know all the details, since I didn’t study American history in school, but started much later, in 2008, when it was the eighth year of the presidency of George W. Bush. I was 60 years old and I reached the place in my life when I just felt so depressed about what was happening to the United States - my country that I love. Bush distorted everything I believed in as a child and as a young man. I began to study American history and Peter Kuznik helped me a lot. The result of this work was the creation of a TV series and a book. It was the most complicated effort I’ve ever made in terms of movies. That’s when I studied what happened in the 1980s and 1990s. I saw that the United States had misrepresented the spirit in which Gorbachev made the agreement with Bush on the reunification of Germany, the expansion of NATO and others.

- Does that mean that it’s not the USSR, but the US is the real evil empire?

United States is a strange country. Studying its history one can come to a conclusion that it always needs an enemy, whether it’s a communism or something else. After the revolution of 1917 in Russia the Americans were scared, terrified of the influence of the ideas of the Bolsheviks on the working class in the United States. In government and business classes attitude toward the revolution was negative from the beginning, and it never changed. Under President Woodrow Wilson United States sent troops to Russia to defeat the revolution. America recognized the Soviet Union only in 1933, under Franklin Roosevelt. The next 6 years before the Second World War started in 1939, were very progressive in America. Labor reform was carried out, labor rules were changed and made better. And it was a positive influence that Russians had on the American economy. For me the key moment in bilateral relations was the Second World War. I think that is the biggest lost for Americans who don’t understand what this war was about and who won it. Because of this misunderstanding and ignorance so much have been lost to the Americans. This is point if we talk about perception of Russia by Americans.

- Oliver, are we correct to understand that you support Gorbachev, who is not very popular now?

Yes, I liked him, although I know that he was unpopular and removed from power in 1991. I read his recent memoir, in which he describes clearly the chain of events that destabilized the situation, tells who Boris Yeltsin was and how the USSR collapsed. I think that if Gorbachev was allowed to continue the world would be in a better position now. But the United States wanted to make Russia a capitalist country, sending its experts, so-called Harvard boys, who advised and freed up economy. And the result was a gangster economy.

- How do you see the role of Putin in this context?

I think, though many feel different, that Vladimir Putin has played a very important role to stop the slide in Russia. He said "no" to Yeltsin's policies, and put the new state order and the new authoritarianism. I think it gave Russians sense of certainty, consistency and pride back. In 1990s Russia's economy shrank to the size of the economy of the Netherlands, which is very small for such a big country. Taking back the state back from the hands of the gangsters was a very important move for Russia. On that basis I certainly admire Putin as a strong man.

In Russia you always had to play with very different set of rules than we do in the United States, it is much tougher and rougher. So if talking about my perception, when I was back to Russia in the 1990s, it looked new, fresh, had a lot of night clubs, security guards. Then I went back in early 2000s. I don’t know what’s going on in the regions, but in Moscow the quality of consumer services was better. The city became very expensive, sleek, modern. People in Moscow seemed happier to me. They don’t smile a lot, because you have tough weather, but they have a deep soul, and when you spend time with them, you realize that they are warm and giving people. Certainly it’s not the picture painted of Russia or Putin. I like Russian people.

- Have you been ever interested in Stalin?

When I was young, I thought about it. Now I’m not. Of course, this is a fantastic and grand personality. But I couldn’t understand what should be a style for a film about him. I haven’t found the magic key.

- Let's go back to Snowden. What is the release date for the film?

Now we are finishing the screenplay. We hope to start shooting early next year and have it out by the end of 2015.

- Did you meet with Snowden in Russia?

Yes, I met him in Moscow, as well as with many other people around this situation.

- Why you decided to make a movie about a man considered a traitor by many people in the United States?

I can’t talk about it too much, because in this case I’m a dramatist, not a journalist. Dramatic image differs from the political one. I made the film about George Bush so that you can understand him, even though I don’t like him. This is my work as a dramatist - to make you understand Snowden. And I'm working on it. I’m not taking a point of view, saying that Snowden is good or bad. Here is the story and I let the people make their own conclusions. There is a lot of political bla-bla-bla about Snowden, but that’s not the film I want to make.

- Do you think it was a right move by Moscow to let him stay in Russia?

I think giving asylum to Snowden was perfect thing to do because he had no home, there was no place that would take him. And I think Russia did it not only to put a stick in America’s eye, but to say that there should be an alternative to a world run completely by the United States. Remember the incident when the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land. The United States has step in every country in the world. In old days you could find asylum in Brazil, France, Switzerland and Sweden. Now all these places are gone, American influenced. United States became the only superpower, and I do not think it’s good for anybody, including the Americans themselves. Therefore, when Putin took the Snowden’s decision or, for example, when he made an offer to destroy chemical weapons in Syria, he really helped the world and contributed to the peace on our planet.

I went to see Mr. Gorbachev few months ago. He himself disapproves what the United States has done, calling it a betrayal of Russia and the spirit of agreements with Bush. They were nothing on paper, but there was a spirit. The spirit was violated first by Bill Clinton and again by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Since then 13 states joined NATO. For Russia this is a nightmare. In my mind and many peoples mind NATO was finished after the end of the "cold war", there were no reasons for the alliance to continue. It was a defensive alliance to protect Western Europe, and has become an offensive alliance that incorporated Eastern Europe and is putting missile shield near the border with Russia.

The situation in Ukraine was the last test. It started with an attempt to put NATO into Georgia. Then there was a hidden desire to put Ukraine into the alliance and block access to Sevastopol for Russia, where it has a fleet. Doing so would be just the equivalent of cutting out balls and Russia could not accept it. I understand why Putin could not give up Crimea. Western institutions - EU, NATO, IMF - would like to have influence, run and control Ukraine. I do not think it's great for Russia, that defends the rights of people in the south-east of Ukraine. I understand what the conflict is, but I think many Americans don’t understand the Russian point of view at all. They think Russia wants to aggrandize itself, that Putin wants to revive the past. In my opinion, Putin has a defensive position, protecting core geopolitical interests of Russian state. And he has a right to do so, as any other country has. It is the United States that is invasive and pushing constantly the limits of patience of Russia, as it was with NATO's eastward expansion. It’s a very dangerous situation.

It would be a catastrophe to push Russia to pass the point. But the United States will not give up on Ukraine. For Russia – it is a frontier.

- Recently, a journalist and a former NSA employee Wayne Madsen suggested that something is wrong with senator John McCain because he calls for a full-scale war with Russia. Earlier the pretext was the conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and now he wants to start it because of the situation in Ukraine. In an interview to Press TV Madsen said that senator needs psychiatric assistance. He believes that extreme russophobia is a consequence of McCain’s mental trauma in Vietnam. But McCain is not alone. Many people are talking now about the second "Cold War" or and even nuclear war. Does that outcomes look probable to you?

For a man who went to war McCain seems to have learned nothing. In my mind he was on the wrong side of every political decision the United States made since the Vietnam war. I think something was wrong with him.

In fact, this is very dangerous situation. It is not only the "cold war" 2.0, but it looks like the situation with Cuba in 1962. I fear because of mutual misunderstanding there could be a war with the use of nuclear weapons and the subsequent "nuclear winter." Previously, we were scared of this, then this fear receded in front of new challenges, but the threat is still there.

I do not know whether that happens, but I'm very worried.

- In Facebook you called to disbelieve the US government accusations that Moscow is responsible for shutting down the Malaysian Boeing. Now, two months later, Dutch report was published, but it didn’t clarify the situation. What do you think about that? Who shot down the plane?

This is another example of inefficient coverage of events in the West. The Secretary of State John Kerry made hysterical accusations of Russia. And he did that before on Syria, accusing the government of using sarin gas, although there was a lot of contrary evidence that the gas was released by the Syrian opposition. I read reports in the Russian media that there was a Ukrainian army jet flying next to the Boeing. We should check the fuselage and see if there was a possibility that the plane was shot down by the fighter. That possibility exists. Moreover, immediately after the catastrophe there was a leaked report from United States intelligence agencies that it was a Ukrainian government crew that launched a missile because they were drunk. And then they said that these were pro-Russian separatists wearing the uniform of the Ukrainian military. What am I supposed to conclude from that information?

There’s another missed part of this story. The United States has, as we know thanks to Mr. Snowden, comprehensive intelligence capabilities all around the globe, and especially in Ukraine in such an important moment. So why the US didn’t publish any photos of this. That tells you a lot. It seems like they don’t want people to know about the Ukrainian fighter jet in the air. And how can you miss quite a large “Buk” complex that includes some large rockets? The United States didn’t present any evidence that these missiles came to Ukraine from Russia. I also read that Russia had given such complexes to the Ukrainian army before the crisis. So evidences are far from conclusive. In the UK experts are working on "black boxes", but the results of the investigation will be revealed in 2015, it’s too late. My hunch is that "bad guys" in the Ukrainian government shut down the plane. I'm not sure, but that’s my hunch.

- In one interview, you described modern media by saying that they are making a fire to lynch the truth. What’s your view on the importance of media in the coverage of events in the world and in Ukraine?

It’s awful. I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, and during that war the same stories went around. When, for example, an American destroyer allegedly came under fire from the North Vietnamese, and then the United States Congress passed the Tonkin resolution, which started the war in Vietnam. Many years later, we learned that, it was not a fire from North Vietnamese, but was all American provoked. Always false provocations. We’ve seen a lot of that. For example, when George W. Bush at the UN reported about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We've seen it in Kuwait under his father George Bush, with false reports about the barbarity of the Iraqi troops, who supposedly were killing babies. The United States is very good at making this kind of covert operations for the public opinion. For many years we have practiced regime change in many countries. Now it’s going on in Venezuela, where US hit the hard and hit the soft, using tools ranging from economic pressure to provocative publications in the media. These techniques were developed and used in Ukraine, where National Endowment for Democracy works. They had a goal to overthrow the government and replace it with a pro-Western government.

I never read such bullsh*t about the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Everybody was pointing to Russian problems and flaws, there were negative stories about Putin. And now with the crisis in Ukraine stories continue to be false. I get news from other sources, not only from American newspapers. But American people are being fed by television and other media with stories about Russian aggression. This is very dangerous.

- Do you trust any media? Maybe, "Rossiyskaya Gazeta"?

(Laughs). There are a few honest independent reporters who work in the Ukraine. They don’t express point of view, don’t push an agenda, they just reveal facts about what is happening. And I’m reading American newspapers to see where the lies are. I think it's like reading “Pravda" or “Izvestiya” in the old days. Today it is impossible to get the truth from official sources. This is the reality for the United States too. Our TV is even worse than newspapers. Their reports are more sensational, but they almost never analyze, rarely going beyond the surface. We are hostages to events. The truth can be found in history books, but it is difficult and takes time. On the Internet you can find good reporters who do not work for a lot of money, but it’s their mission.

- United States are imposing sanctions against Russia and increasingly forcing their allies to follow that path. In your opinion, how justified is that and whether there is any other hidden purpose?

It's a shame. We are hurting Russia, hurting ourselves. Russia will find new partners in the East and Eurasia. They just signed new trade agreement with China. Russia will go on with or without sanctions. It's a shame, but that's the United States style of doing things: they squeeze through the economy, through the media. You need patience to fight the dragon. I think Putin knows this, he is a very smart man, he already has experience like this. After 9/11 in 2001, Putin was the first guy to call Bush. Russia had its own problems with the Chechen terrorists, and knew the power of Muslim terrorism. Therefore, in my opinion, Russia - is a natural ally of the United States. Eh. It's a shame.

- You made four films about the war in Vietnam and revealed it’s cruelty. What’s going on in Ukraine is very cruel. The army is shelling the cities killing innocent civilians. Have you ever thought why there is so much cruelty in humans? Why do normal people turn into monsters?

This is the problem with war. War involves people and they become more destructive. When you militarize region, like the United States does, neighbour is turning against neighbour. It's ugly. That’s why war is so destructive and devastating. There is nothing worse in the world than war. I think only people who experienced war, understand that. Russians have such a terrible experience, if not personally, they do know it from parents and grandparents. You have the respect for war. United States never experienced war, we don’t know how devastating is it. And as a result we don’t respect war and what it means. We go and bring harm to others, militarize countries and regions. We will not understand war until it happens to us. It's a blessing we are isolated by two great oceans, it is a great geopolitical advantage. But it will not always be like that, if we continue to act in this aggressive spirit. I am certain that history’s karma will come around and punish the American people. In a very careless way, Americans consider themselves outside and apart from history, but it's not the case. You do not escape history. History always catches up to you.

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