What do you think of what is happening in Ukraine now, the invasion of Russia?
Difficult to make short, these feelings mix. Anger, anger, regret towards the people who leave their homes by the thousands, as well as towards those who have already lost their lives in the senseless and bloodthirsty action of President Putin, you can say. So it’s such a mix.
Petr Voldan (* 1953, Pardubice), longtime foreign correspondent, cheerleader and calm with horse blood (but not “cognac”) diluted with gingerbread, enters the radio station in Prague at Vinohradská 12 then that he is still studying at the Faculty of Journalism. and broadcasts talk shows On the road with Petr Voldánwhere he invites interesting guests.
How long have you been in Russia as a permanent rapporteur?
I’ve been there for two stages and in total, it’s been more than 8 years. As permanent rapporteur, I found myself in Russia in 2004. So it has been a few years, but the Russian mentality, or the situation around the media, the perception and the availability of information, has fundamentally deteriorated rather than improved.
Even for the Russian media, information is a problem when a legal measure is issued that there is a risk of imprisonment for naming things by their real names.
Petr Voldán, editor
How did you work as a journalist in Russia? Did you feel any pressure?
There was a big difference between my first and my second half, while it improved a lot due to the international situation. Even if, paradoxically, I lived there this first period, the exit of Mikhail Gorbachev. And this is perhaps the character to demonstrate. Because we think Mikhail Gorbachev helped make the world a little better for now. The problem was that he had no support at home. He had the support of people who had the information, the most educated people. But he had no support from most Russians and still doesn’t. They resent him for compromising with the West and for bringing the vast Soviet Union down. He broke it down into independent states and they still can’t forgive him.
So Gorbachev didn’t understand what it was for Stalin? Do they like it? Are they not aware of the atrocities he has committed against his own people?
He was not only Stalin, the Russian nation has always had, and essentially still needs, a strong and great leader. It is a great state that has always relied on a leader who will determine the direction Russia will take. Let him be called Tsar or General Secretary or President. The sticker is completely indifferent. But it has to do with the information provided to the nation, what the standard of living is. Because we must not hide the fact that the social and economic scissors are incredibly open in Russia. This means that, on the one hand, there are oligarchs with finances that we don’t even dream of. On the other hand, people who basically still live like they almost lived under the Tsar. And they have only one source of information, that of the state. We shouldn’t be surprised that these people don’t believe their friends or family members from Ukraine or Europe that a war is going on.
They just don’t know it and don’t believe it.
They don’t know it, because the umbrella of information that extends over them will not convey the information to them. There are many examples and we can show it well in demonstrations. In our country, when someone demonstrates, he demonstrates and goes home. Over there, when someone goes to demonstrate, we immediately talk about the prison and the problems of the whole family. Now this also applies to journalists. Czech radio has also removed its permanent journalist because he faces 15 years in prison for false information that there is a war in Ukraine, etc. So in this respect we have to look at Russian society with slightly different eyes. Not just what we are used to here.
So what does Vladimir Putin represent for Russians today? Do they need to have it on them like an idol?
Unfortunately for most Russians, it is still their leader who defends their interests. We talked about how people there access information. And what life situation they are in. For some Russians, of course, he is a man who probably went mad and ruined their lives. But he also trampled on the fact that Russia had the image of liberating part of Europe from fascist Germany. It’s all about that. These people understand that Russia will gain practically nothing. He earns the contempt of the world, loses economically and so on. Putin ruled Russia for 22 years, and during that time we seem to lose touch with the normal world because he is surrounded by people who tell him how well he is. Because they also live from it. We also know this in other countries.
And when a dictator goes to war, you have to realize that the world is not black and white, but colorful. That this is not a war of all Russian people against Ukraine. Let’s not forget that Ukraine is connected with Russia not only externally, as it seems to us, but also through kinship, families, etc. So it’s a much more complicated situation. Putin believed that Russians living in Ukraine would welcome him and his troops. However, it was probably difficult to recalculate. It may have to do with who advises him and tells him what.
You told me an interesting story about your son’s friend. How is it?
These are specific cases where we talk about the difficulty of the situation for the Russians. It is not for nothing that they say that the first victims of war are true. The example of my son’s friend is complicated in that a young Russian named Andrei, whom I know well, had the chance to study in Germany. He started a business there and stayed there. Her parents live in Moscow, her father is a teacher, he taught at the university, her mother is a high school teacher. When Andrei talks to them, he cries on the phone every day because they can’t believe what Russia is doing against Ukraine. They have the information because they get it. And for Andrej, it’s an insurmountable situation, because he has no way to help them. They cannot leave Russia. So it’s a crazy example.
Information is also a problem for Russian media at home when a legal measure is issued that threatens up to 15 years in prison to call things by their real names. By the time the Echo Moscow radio station ends, where I used to go to broadcast interesting interviews, the Russian person has nowhere to find information, he is also cut off from the Internet, etc. . We can only hope that the situation is resolved so that it is not a much more serious disaster.
You can listen to Jakub Schmidt’s full interview with publicist Petr Voldán in our audio archive.