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In his first interview after leaving the Kremlin, former longtime top presidential adviser Vladislav Surkov calls himself a ‘heretical Putinist.’ Here’s what he said in a nutshell.

In the Kremlin, I managed the Donbas and Ukraine. I left because the context changed. Generally speaking, the journalists Vladimir Solovyov and Alexey Venediktov have already named the reasons I stepped down. I’m going totally AWOL with this resignation. From now on, my involvement in politics will be limited to arguing around the kitchen table, over drinks, and in wacky treatises. I’m a Putinist, but I’m a partly heretical Putinist. I wanted to leave back in 2013, when I realized that there was no place for me in the system, but I returned and chose Ukraine. Even back then, I had a feeling about the coming battle with the West. Our relations with Ukraine were never simple, even when it was part of Russia. Imposing fraternal relations by force is the only method that’s been effective historically when it comes to Ukraine. I don't think anything new is going to be invented here. At the Paris summit, Volodymyr Zelensky got a presidential welcome. He’s no chump. I found out about Russia’s constitutional reforms from news reports. If the changes clarify the president’s powers, then the legal logic is that you’d need to restart everyone’s presidential term clock. I’d never thought of mentioning God in the Constitution. The Good Lord would probably laugh about it, more than anything. I’m in no hurry to find a new job. With all the sanctions against me and my political toxicity, I’m hardly in demand right now.

You can read Surkov’s full interview with Center for Current Policy director Alexey Chesnakov here (in Russian) at

Summary by Alexander Baklanov, translation by Kevin Rothrock

Photo on front page: Mikhail Mettsel / TASS / Vida Press