Sophie Shevardnadze: Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst, whistleblower, political activist, it’s really great to have you on our show today. So, we’re going to talk about Ukraine as usual. Just recently the US, Russia and the EU have agreed to sit down with Ukraine, in an attempt to resolve this crisis. But, is this a problem to be solved internationally, or is it an internal Ukrainian issue? As a matter of fact, was it ever Ukraine’s internal problem?
Ray McGovern: Well, Ukraine, obviously needs to be involved intimately. We can’t have the EU and the US and Russia deciding the future of Ukraine, so the answer is Ukraine needs to be involved intimately, but all of them, East and West, and I’m really glad that the adults have taken over now, and what should have happened several weeks ago is happening now. People getting together to figure out how to do this, when no one’s security is endangered.
SS: But, like you’ve said, all these “adults” have different goals, and it seems like finding common ground isn’t really among them…What’s the real point of these talks?
RM: Well, if this was a matter of security for the USA that would be true. It is not a matter of national security, it’s a matter to living up to a promise that was made to Gorbachev, and your grandfather Shevardnadze in 1990, when James Backer said “the US and NATO would not leap-frog over Germany, would not move NATO one inch eastward.” That was a solemn promise, and unfortunately it wasn’t written down, but when your leaders, Russian leaders saw, that NATO started infringing, started going eastward, and then of course, when NATO leaders decided 6 years ago in Bucharest that Georgia and Ukraine would become members of NATO, that was sort of the last straw until the provocations that happened on Maidan in Kiev.
SS: I think NATO is a point that Russia will never negotiate on. So, if all sides are not willing to compromise, could talks eventually make things worse? Because from what I understand, there are some un-negotiable points…
RM: Yes, Russia has un-negotiable point: NATO will not subsume Ukraine under NATO’s wing – that is entirely understandable. As Helmut Schmidt, the former German Bundeskanzler said, it is “du haus verständlich” - “it is thoroughly understandable”, that Russia is not going to let Ukraine became part of NATO, and I think what the Administration here in Washington decided, was “we will try it anyway” and they got a bloody nose. So I think there are no security interests of any importance on the US side. Finally, Obama, is able to say, “yes, we will talk, we will negotiate, we will include, of course the Ukrainians, but EU, Russia, we and the Ukrainians will figure it all out” – it’s not difficult to figure out, unless you want to make regime change in Ukraine, and that was of course the casus belli, so to speak, when our Assistant Secretary of State made it clear in that intercepted telephone conversation that “Yatz” is our guy and that he used to be, or still is, the head of the central Bank, he knows about austerity, he’ll know what needs to happen for the IMF…” the whole business about subsuming Ukraine into the EU or its economic umbrella – you know, they would end up just like workers in Greece: cheap labor with incredible debt to have to pay off. So, I think, people are sort of calming down now, I really fear for what Putin called the “neo-nazis” and the “Banderan” groups – they are still around so we need to make sure that jointly we don’t let them disrupt whatever peace negotiations transpire.
SS: Here’s another thing – only one out of six Americans can actually point Ukraine on the map. Some even think they live in Ukraine, according to recent Washington Post survey. So why would someone take action in place they know nothing about?
RM: Well, that’s very simply. It’s the media in our country which is beating the drums for the hostile attitude towards Russia. Now, the background of that, of course, is that the people who control the media are the ones who profiteer from arms manufacturing and sales, and also the people who do not want decent relations between Russia and the US, Victoria Nuland, for example. The cardinal sin that Vladimir Putin made was to help the US out of a very difficult situation with respect to Syria. The point is, Putin bailed out the president, and the people who wanted the war to continue in Syria, the neo-cons, were destroyed about that, and so they don’t like Putin one bit, and they want to cause a hostile relationship between Russia and the US, but Obama and Putin do have a relationship, and I can see that working out for the better, as people sit down as adults and negotiate this crisis.
SS: But, it’s funny that you’ve mentioned the neo-cons, because I was talking to Ron Paul recently and he also told me kind of a same thing, he said it’s the hardliners at home who are influencing Obama, and they are the ones who want heavy American involvement in Ukraine. But why would they want that?
RM: Well, for two reasons. One is, because they want to create this hostile environment between Moscow and Washington: that helps arms sales to the former East European countries, it helps to stir up the kind of spirit that makes defense expenditures even more. The other reason is they do not like to have the relationship where Vladimir Putin and our president, Barak Obama, are able to negotiate behind the back of their favorite neo-con, and their favorite neo-con is the fellow I mentioned before – John Kerry, who has the neo-con attitude, where they think that the strategic interest of Israel on the one side are identical with the strategic interests of the US on the other side. Now, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I just don’t think those kinds of people should be running US policy, and I think, the president Obama should fire John Kerry, now that it’s very clear that he lied 35 times on August 30th, by saying that Bashar Assad was responsible for those chemical attacks. That was a lie. Vladimir Putin had it right.
SS: There is five billion dollars that’s been invested in Ukraine through the National Endowment for Democracy over the years – do you believe Washington has the result it was actually looking for?
RM: It was a good try. In other words, Victoria Nuland, the Assitant Secretary of State apparently thought that if she gave chocolate-chip cookies on Maidan then everything would turn out alright with the “Yatz” coming in as the interim prime-minister. Now, Yatz did become an interim prime-minister, but not everything turned out alright, and she should have known better. And, I think she did know better, that’s why I keep saying that her ultimate intention was to create a very hostile environment between Moscow and Washington.
SS: Establishing legitimacy is Kiev’s greatest challenge now at home and abroad, especially in Moscow, but how can it achieve that – keeping in mind the striking similarity of the government line-up with Mrs. Nuland’s instructions?
RM: I don’t think Mrs. Nuland is going to have a final say here. I think everybody’s interests need to be respected, and that’s why I welcome so much the idea of Russia, the US, the EU and the Ukrainians sitting down at the table to work it out. It’s not terribly complicated once US gives up the idea of regime change. My favorite outcome is to make the Ukraine something like Finland, where it could be neutral and a threat to no one, where NATO wouldn’t go near the Ukraine – I think Russia will be satisfied with that.
SS: NATO’s Secretary General has also warned Russia against the “historic mistake” in Ukraine, threatening to further isolate Russia internationally – but what more can be done? I mean, they already suspended all cooperation..
RM: On neseryezni chelovek (Он несерьезный человек) – that fellow, Fogh Rasmussen, is not a serious person. He was that the guy that said on March 18th, one day before the invasion in Iraq, “we don’t believe there are weapons of mass destruction there – we know they are there!” He was at that point the prime-minister of Denmark. He is not a serious person, don’t pay any attention to him.
http://d.hatena.ne.jp/d1021/20140331#1396263127（Misunderstood feeling of pride got involved. ）
"Quite the contrary. If I come up against some obstacles in life, it will be because of my name," she says. "There were situations in my life when all doors were open, but it isn’t the same now. I was taken for this job not because I am a Shevardnadze."
She hadn’t lived in Georgia since the age of 10. First she moved to France and then to the United States, where she graduated with a cinema degree from Boston University and studied in the master’s program in TV-journalism at New York University.
She worked as a producer at ABC-TV in America before returning to Georgia and going to work in for Imedi, which she describes as a warm and vivid place.
"I never met so well-disposed and witty persons as Droeba’s journalists are," she says. "They always extended a helping hand to me, especially the program producer Rusiko Tskhomelidze, from whom I always sought advise on language problems. We are friends now."
" It’s unfortunate that you can’t see her first and last reports, to see the difference between them," says Tskhomelidze. "Because of her long absence from Georgia, her native language was not so perfect to make TV reports. Besides, she was learning documentary filming in America, which is quite different from TV: different terms, different style, different lengths. So she needed to work very hard. She was hired for the job just because of her education, and she was not given any privileges because she was a Shevardnadze. Her reports were edited properly if it was necessary."
Tskhomelidze said Sopho had enormous desire to improve her skills and never took offense. Tskhomelidze emphasizes Sopho’s ability to communicate. "There was no person in the world that would be difficult for Sopho to reach," explains the producer. "She never argued and to every request she gave the same answer: ’Okay. Just give me some time.’ Even today, when she doesn’t work at Imedi, if we want to connect to someone important, we remember Sopho, for whom some things are more possible than for us. She is very purposeful and I think she would be successful anyway, even not being a Shevardnadze…but maybe on different terms."
Now the 26-year-old Shevardnadze, who moved to Moscow in January, is one of 14 journalists who will create the image for a new English-language Russian TV channel in English. The channel is scheduled to go on the air in October, and will be available in Georgia only to those who have satellites.
"My family was against it," she says with a trace of obstinacy."I was told that if I go to Moscow, remember, you can’t relay on our countenance and forget the money assistances from us. I put enormous energy and emotion into all this… I know people would not believe it, but I really had financial problems here and after three or four months I felt regret, that maybe it would have been better not to come to Moscow.
"But my intuition suggested to me that it’s a city where I have to live."
Sophie has no idea how her family members will react to the changes in her life, but she says she can count on her grandfather. "He never interferes in my private life," she says. "I always had freedom from him. And what is more important for me, he always believes in my choices. He always thought that I was clever enough to make decisions independently. I always met resistance from women in my family, but my grandpa was at my side."
Sophie’s grandfather’s attitude towards the independence of his grandchildren is quite clear. "I never limited the zone of activities for my grandchildren," Eduard Shevardnadze said."They are choosing their way always independently, and if they became successful depends only on themselves and their ability, persistence and efficiency.
"Most of all, I don’t want my grandchildren to be denied any benefits because of my name. They have to count only on themselves, on their education. Of course there exists patronage today as in any other time, but I am against it, because people moving ahead by patronage never succeed seriously, especially in art."
It is obvious the former president likes to talk about Sophie. "She has no dependence on her grandfather, father or mother," explains Shevardnadze with smile, "Yes, she attends to her parents because she loves them, and I hope she doesn’t hate her grandfather (he is still smiling), but she has her way and I understand this very well, because I was like her. She is clever, she grasps everything quickly…these qualities are not rare today, but when we talk about my Sophie, I can’t resist not saying this."
He was reassured by a phone call from his friend, well-known Georgian filmmaker Otar Ioseliani, who was the subject of one of Sophie’s reports for Imedi. "What a clever grandchild you have," Ioseliani told Shevardnadze over the phone from France.
"Besides, I simply believe in her," says Shevardnadze. "Our conversations by phone are very short: ’How are your businesses going, babu? (grandpa in Georgian)?’ She says to me: ’I will never let you down, babu!’ and I know that she is very motivated and a perfectionist."
So has Georgia lost her for good? With a scarcely perceptible smile, Sophie craftily answers the awkward question:
"I am Georgian and I never wanted to be another nationality, but I like life in Russia. Maybe I miss some parts of Tbilisi, and I miss my friends, but after New York it is hard to live anywhere, even in Paris.
To do different things every single day is really possible only in New York. But in Moscow the ability to spread your wings are the same, with the difference that if I feel nostalgia for my country, Moscow can fill it. If I go and hear "Chunga-Changa," a song from my childhood, nothing in New York could replace it."