Posner Plans to Interview Nemtsov in March

Vladimir Posner. Source: GZT.ruEarly in February, well-known Russian television host Vladimir Posner appeared poised to invite heretofore banned opposition figures on his program on state-controlled Channel One. All that immediately followed was three weeks of silence, but in an interview published by GZT.ru on Thursday, Posner renewed his vow to follow through and invite former First Deputy Prime Minister and Solidarity opposition movement co-leader Boris Nemtsov on his show sometime in March.

“I plan to invite Boris Nemtsov. I’m definitely going to refer to the conversation with Putin that took place in the presence of [Channel One General Director] Konstantin Ernst and another 25 people from the channel,” Posner told the publication.

“As of now, I can’t say I’ve been told ‘no’ in regards to my wish to have oppositionists on the air,” he went on. “Inviting Boris Efimovich in February didn’t work out. I had already planned to have other people on. Why am I starting with Nemtsov? I see him as the most interesting and striking person from the opposition.”

Speaking to Kasparov.ru, Nemtsov said he has not yet received an invitation to appear on Posner’s show, which is simply called “Posner.”

“As of now, I haven’t received an invitation, but I’ll go to the interview; why not?” said Nemtsov. “It’s a live broadcast, otherwise I simply wouldn’t agree; another matter is that the live broadcast is shown in the east of the country and it’s possible that they could cut something out afterwards, having consulted with the Kremlin. It’s hard to control, but in this case it would be Posner’s reputation that would suffer, and not mine.”

Nemtsov said he expects the piece to be a fluff interview that would avoid any controversial topics. “I think the questions are going to be posed in such a way as to follow the general outline of the channel,” he said. “They’ll be about my health; my children.”

Posner said he also sees Eduard Limonov, leader of the Other Russia and National Bolshevik Parties, as another striking opposition figure – but does not plan to have him on his show.

“Limonov… it’s unlikely that I’d invite him, because I promised myself not to invite fascists,” Posner explained. “As long as he has the party banner that he has, he’s not going to be on my program.”

“I know what fascism is and what Nazism is. And when I see a person whose flag is a copy of the Nazi flag but has a hammer and sickle instead of a swastika in the middle – for me this is a definite, as they say nowadays, message. And I told myself: I’m never going to give these people speak,” the television host concluded.

Such sentiments represent both state censorship over television and Posner’s personal enmity, Limonov told Kasparov.ru.

“I think that there’s both censorship and enmity, even though Posner doesn’t know me. He called me a fascist, and that’s slander in general, which is disproved by my close cooperation with Garry Kasparov and many other honest people,” the oppositionist said. “The party that I head is the most repressed party; about two hundred of its members have gone through prisons and camps – in the past two years, 35 people have been convicted on the 282th article [banning extremism – ed.] alone.”

Kasparov.ru noted that Posner claims he has been threatened by members of the National Bolshevik Party. Limonov denied the accusations.

Posner also said he would like to host an interview with incisive liberal commentator and politician Valeriya Novodvorskaya.

“I would invite Novodvorskaya,” he said. “She, of course, is a frightfully brave person. She is a wonderful writer and has a wonderful sense of humor. But at the same time, she is totally radical. It seems to me that it’s very difficult to agree with her on anything. That is to say, everything is black and white to her, either/or; she doesn’t allow for any shades of gray. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t invite her on. It’s just that I understand how it could be difficult.”

It is also possible that leading Russian oppositionist Garry Kasparov could be invited on Posner’s show – he was among the original figures Posner referenced at the beginning of February – although GZT.ru pointed out that he hasn’t yet been invited. Kasparov himself expressed skepticism of the entire affair and discontent with the host’s objections to Limonov and other controversial oppositionists.

“It’s pointless to comment on Posner’s routine, seasonal promises,” Kasparov responded. “This isn’t the first time we’re hearing them. If I get an invitation, then I’ll go. It’s interesting that ‘squeamish’ Posner doesn’t want to see Limonov on his show. On the other hand, he’s expanding his list with Novodvorskaya, ‘the boogieman of Russian liberalism.’ But has he heard of the names of [liberal blogger Alexei] Navalny or [Left Front leader] Udaltsov? Or does he not watch anything other than Channel One?”

Political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky sees Posner’s promise to invite oppositionists on his show as a manifestation of “Perestroika 2” – a continuation of processes that began in 2010, when it became unfashionable for members of the more glamorous portions of Russian society to be associated with the government.

“This is a mature stage of protest, in which people who have spoken out against Khodorkovsky are beginning to speak out in favor of him or redact their objections,” the analyst explained. “Perestroika begins not when dissidents come out against the system, but when people who were recently loyal to the government come over to its moral and political opposition, like the Komsomol workers did in the ’80s.”