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Russian Prime Minister: We Are 'Approaching a Second Cold War'

7:08 AM, May 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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I think that this is a gross violation of effective contracts and agreements. As far as I can see, our partners at Visa and MasterCard are aware of the weakness of their position, but they had to take this decision upon the recommendation of the Treasury Department and the State Department.

 

I'd like to remind you that the world is monitoring this conflict because if I were a Chinese or Brazilian, I'd think: Why should I carry cards that largely depend on the stance of the US administration? Better choose the Chinese way. As you know, our Chinese partners are developing a national payment system, which, considering the global nature of the Chinese economy, is already influencing global payment systems.

 

I would like to reiterate that we do not want Visa or MasterCard to leave Russia. Overall, our cooperation with them has been quite productive. However, I believe that before taking such decisions, these companies should have thought about the fact that such actions - responding in such an awkward manner to official requests - undermine trust in them.

 

On the U.S. suggesting U.S. CEOs not attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum:

 

Dmitry Medvedev: I think this is bad. It reminds me of the decisions made in this country during the Leonid Brezhnev period. Business interests suffer because of ideology. You should ask these CEOs themselves - I have actually met some of them - from the US and Europe if they are happy about these decisions. Why do they have to sacrifice their business interests for the sake of some strange sense of solidarity?

 

Ryan Chilcote: That puts them in a difficult position because they want to make money, on the one hand, but they don't want to go against their government's wishes, on the other.

 

Dmitry Medvedev: Exactly. So, this is bringing ideology to market relations and the economy, which is exactly what the Soviet Union did in the past, when it adopted bans on trade with particular countries because [their ideology] didn't suit the government. This is exactly what the US administration is doing now. This is a path to a dead end. It is destroying international economic ties and will affect the interests of US and European business.

 

There is one more thing I'd like to say, since you keep talking about sanctions... I'd like to remind you that no sanctions were introduced against MPs even in the most difficult periods of US-Soviet relations, like during the Cuban missile crisis or when the decision to deploy troops in Afghanistan was taken. We maintained contacts at the top political level. By enacting such sanctions, our US and European partners are destroying the very fabric of international relations. Are they trying to scare us? This will lead nowhere. Once a new administration comes to power in the United States and a new president takes office after Obama, these sanctions will be forgotten. In the end, nobody stands to win.

 

On the Internet and whether he agrees with President Putin that the internet is a CIA project:

 

Dmitry Medvedev: My answer is yes and no. It is true that the Internet was born within defence-related structures. As far as I know, it was DARPA, not the CIA. What this means is that, at the outset, this network served a defence purpose. But afterwards, it grew into what is called the World Wide Web, serving as a universal phenomenon, bringing together huge numbers of people. I have never made an ideal out of the Internet, but I do believe that there is no other thing in the world with such a great unifying potential, since it creates communication opportunities, and it should be properly appreciated.

 

Ryan Chilcote: You say that it has to be valued, but can you guarantee that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, will be working in Russia in a year's time? Because, as you are well aware, a Russian official not too long ago said that they may have to be closed.

 

Dmitry Medvedev: This was just a poor choice of words by an executive from an oversight department. Perhaps, he should have considered his words more carefully before speaking. The issue is fairly simple: everyone who works in the Russian segment of the Internet must comply with Russian regulations.

 

Again, it's part of the worldwide history of communications. Millions of Russians use social media. I use it as well, I believe that it's a good and useful thing; therefore, on the one hand, there must be compliance with Russian laws, but on the other hand, there should be freedom of access to information that is not at odds with the law.

 

On VKontakte and Pavel Durov - the Zuckerberg, many say, of Russia - leaving the country:

 

Dmitry Medvedev: It's difficult for me to discuss Mr Durov's motives. I've met him only once, in this very room, where we discussed development prospects. He is very talented, but like every talented person he has many illusions. As far as I know, he had an argument with the company's shareholders and his business partners and, as a result, sold his shares. As it often happens, he cited political circumstances to explain his actions and started another project. It was his decision, but VKontakte will continue to exist. It is a completely open platform.

 

Ends/

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