Russian expatriates worldwide must rally behind Ukraine and show Ukrainians that, as acclaimed Russian novelist Grigori Chkhartishvili told Newsmax, "we the true Russia are on their side and that we are against the made dictator Putin."
Joining Chkhartishvili, who lives in London, in signing a letter announcing the formation of the new group "True Russia" are two other prominent Russian expatriates: world-renowned dancer and artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov, a New York resident, and Sergei Guriev, former chief economist at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) who lives in Paris.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax Saturday, Chkhartishvili—who has written numerous detective and historical thrillers under the pen name "Boris Akunin"—said the group seeks, for now, "a centralized line of donations from Russian diaspora for Ukrainians. We are angry, we are shocked, we feel responsible for our failure to stop Putin. We want to act."
As to how True Russia will act, the novelist who created famed Russian detective Erast Fandorin explained "[w]e started from something which is comparatively easy to organize – a fundraising campaign. Now 100 percent of the money goes to Disasters Emergency Committee (UK) which brings together 15 established charities."
Noting that "the best Russian journalists are fleeing Putin’s Russia en masse," Chkhartishvili predicted that "they will soon join us."
"The majority of the creative class and of the intellectuals are against the war and against Putin," said Chkhartishvili, "A relatively small number of 'big names' stand for the dictator. Some of them are talented, none are respected. Others are just being cautious and bide their time."
Newsmax noted that several Putin biographers have said that the onetime KGB colonel was elected president in 2000 in large part because a group of oligarchs with backgrounds in the KGB wanted a candidate who most resembled Yuri Andropov — the longtime KGB boss who became paramount leader of the old Soviet Union in November 1982 and died in February 1984.
Andropov — as Soviet ambassador to Hungary in 1956 — was a pivotal player in the Red Army subduing the Hungarian uprising against Communism in 1956. He was general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in September 1983 when a Russian fighter plane downed Flight KAL (Korean AirLines) — 007 and thus took the lives of 246 passengers (among them Rep. Larry MacDonald, D-GA).
Chkhartishvili dismisses the idea that Putin is the reincarnation of the much-feared Andropov.
"I am working on a novel where Andropov is one of the characters," he told us, "So I read a lot about the man. No, he was very much different from our Vladimir Saddamovich. Andropov was cautious — Putin is an adventurist; Andropov was a hush-hush, mole-like manipulator — Putin is a show-off. Andropov was a realist, Putin is delusional."
Putin himself is doomed, Chkhartishvili insisted to us. In his words, "Putin is trying restore the old Soviet Union. It will instead end into further dissolution of what’s left of the former Soviet empire."
He agrees with fellow dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, who survived two poisonings, that Putin will only be overthrown if the people in the streets rise up.
Or, as Chkhartishvili quickly added, "he will be eliminated by his own entourage when they panic. One of the two."
On the same day we spoke to the novelist, the Financial Times featured an article entitled "Inside Putin’s Circle" by Kremlinologist and author Anatol Lieven speculating on whether the siloviki (men of force) around the Russian president would ever overthrow him.
"I know many of them personally," said Chkartishvili, "They are too scared and they have no means to stage a coup. When it gets real hot, they’ll run off to Dubai or wherever. Each of them has an escape plan, I am sure."
He also agrees with Mikhail Khodorskovky, formerly a prisoner of Putin’s and now an expatriate in London, that the Russian strongman had overreached and Ukraine was the beginning of his downfall.
"It’s pretty evident that Putin’s state has entered the final chapter of its history," he predicted, "It will be an ugly chapter and it will end dramatically."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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