Does Putin have to Die: Interview with Agnieszka Gorska Episode 4
This article is the transcript of a live ‘interview’ show done regularly by journalist Gregg Stebben and Ilya Ponomarev, the only member of the Russian Parliament to vote against Putin in the annexation of Crimea and now a Russian dissident and Ukraine supporter. Please excuse any transcript errors in this article.
Gregg: I have a zany picture for you. It’s our friend Agnieszka who you all are, Well actually you did do a show earlier on when I was here, didn’t you?
Agnieszka: Well, the interview, Yes, Yes.
Gregg: I’m in Warsaw with Agnieszka. Yeah. Uh, Anna, we don’t know where zany came from either, but, uh, when you get the zany photo, we’ll hope you share it with us.
Gregg: Uh, welcome, everybody. This is, uh, Does Putin have to die? with Ilya Ponomarev. Uh, as I warned you last week, we didn’t think we would see Ilya today, and that’s true. Uh, but I am here with Agnieszka, uh, who made me a lovely dinner here in Warsaw. And, I’m gonna talk for a few minutes about the Congress. I would be interested to know in the chat if anyone, uh, followed it.
There have been quite a few stories about it, which I will try to post, uh, in the next day or two. Um, you could see it, uh, online on the February morning website, which I shared last week. Um, so I’d be curious to know if anybody actually watched any of it, but Agnieszka, who speaks Russian, uh, did watch some of it.
And so I’m gonna ask you, first of all, what was your overall thought when you learned about the Congress? And then, you know, you watched two hours of a three-day event, but what was your feeling about what you saw?
Agnieszka: Mm-hmm… Okay. So I was very surprised, uh, about the idea. Uh, and I liked it from the beginning, and I think it is a very good idea to have created a body, an official body, an established body, which, um, which the other governmental bodies will be able to, to talk with, to discuss things about Russia and the future of Russia. A body which is completely independent from putting government simply…
Agnieszka: Yeah. Well, because we live in a diplomatic world and, um, secretaries of State need, uh, um, a colleague to talk to.
Agnieszka: So I understand that it’s not, not going to work from the very beginning, but at least it is an idea and it’s, Well, I had the impression if you asked me yesterday, Um, that we witness the history that this day, this congress will be in history books. So that was the first thing. The second I listened, as Gregg said, there was a very good online transmission of the Congress…
Gregg: …and, let me jump in for a minute because I see people are saying they missed the link and that could be my fault and I apologize. The first thing I wanna say, It’s in Russian. So unless you speak Russian, you might have been interested to go and watch to see what it looked like. But unless you speak Russian like I was there for the entire thing, I have no idea what happened, other than I would grab people that spoke English and most people didn’t speak much English.
And I would say, What just happened? What, what were they voting on? Uh, but I will also tell you that I will get the links for the recorded Congress, because you may be interested in just going and looking at key moments of where there was a vote or this, uh, this morning or early this afternoon, there was a, uh, uh, a document signed between I think Chechnya and Georgia, or, or I may be getting the countries confused, but there was a lot of, No, there was no translator.
Um, I would’ve had a translator, but that probably was, uh, more complicated. And then what languages do you translate? Do you translate it into polish? Do you translate it into Ukrainian? Or do you translate it into English? So, um, I think they made a fair choice in not translating it. But I think you’re also gonna see lots of output from the organization about what was said and what was accomplished there.
And there may be a transcription to come that, I don’t know, I didn’t think to ask that. Anyway, thank you for letting me interrupt. But I wanted to give some context…
Agnieszka: Well, yes exactly. And when you may make me realize, Of course, it is not a rich and well-organized organization so far, so we also don’t have a lot of money for translators and everything. I think it was, it was really well organized and the transmission, so online transmission was very good, but now when you think about it, all of those present delegates, they have one common language. This is Russian. Everybody from Georgia, Chenchnya, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. We simply learned Russian at school, so we speak it, and we like it or dislike it, but, But we didn’t need translators.
Gregg: That’s right, That’s a really good point.
Agnieszka: Yeah. Well, you don’t realize it immediately then. Um. Something which I really liked was that I had a feeling that there was a lot of, uh, there was a good atmosphere in the room and they were very cooperative. I was impressed by Ed because when you have 30 to 50 people in one room, it’s so easy to, Well, I have a better idea and my idea should be voted on. But I could see that when we discussed things, they would really make an effort how to find an expression that would fit everybody. Hmm…Would this be good? And so on. I, I didn’t, well, I really liked it. I think there was a part of the discussion, which I also liked.
Somebody raised the question, how do they look from a legal point of view? So one of the delegates said, Who are we? What is the legal base for our existence? And on one hand, it was, it was funny. On the other hand, it was a very vital and important question. because they don’t want to in, in view of Russian law, the country law, they are illegal. They cannot go.
Gregg: Maybe. No. Maybe, maybe they’re not. Well, maybe there, there’s a loophole there…
Agnieszka: Maybe. Maybe there’s, but maybe I imagine that if they would, um, deposit, um, request to the highest Russian court. Please legalize our organization…
Gregg: Well, the Russian Court may not recognize it, but if the loopholes are there, other countries of the world may recognize it given Russian law. If there’s legitimacy to,
Agnieszka: Well, I don’t know…
Gregg: But, it’s interesting… questions, right?
Agnieszka: Yes, it was a very valid, uh, an interesting question. Another thing was that, um, there were like 1500 people observing, um, joining online for the Congress. Which I think is a significant number. Um, so these were my, my first and I think there was good coverage of, uh, international people and journalists. I saw a lot of cameramen, uh, things like that…
Gregg: That. There were a lot of journalists. Yeah. Um, I met a gentleman this morning named, Oliver or Olivier, he’s, It’s interesting, he’s French. He’s a French attorney. I believe. I, So, first of all, let me explain that. The Congress ended, I left and I’ve basically been on the run.
So, um, a lot of Olga making. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. Okay. Well, we’ll come back to that. Anyway, I’ve been on the run since I left, so there’s a lot of research I’d like to do, uh, for the next show, but I wasn’t able to do it today. But, um, I met a gentleman today who’s French, who left Russia, uh, and lives in Kyiev.
And just quickly to share his story, when the invasion happened his wife is Jewish, And I think Ukrainian, if I remember correctly, or maybe Russian anyway when the invasion happened, he’s a Russian oppositionist, even though he is French, he’s a target of the Putin regime, as is his wife. And he and his wife fled to the border to catch a train.
And as he described this to me, it was like a black-and-white movie from the fifties, like, Casablanca or something. He and his wife got separated at the train station. She got on a train. He couldn’t get on a train. He eventually got on a train, but it was a different train.
Agnieszka: what train??
Gregg: This was at the like Lviv? Lviv Yeah, I think. I think they got to Lviv and then they ended up on separate trains and he got a phone call. From somebody within Ukrainian security that said, We know you’re there. This is Ukrainian security, not Russian security. We know you’re there. We know you’re on the train. We’d like you to get off the train.
Tell your wife to get off the train. We’re gonna take you to a secure house until it’s safe for us to take you across the border to make sure you get across safely.
Gregg: And they took him to a house in the woods. I mean, this is like, This is like being in a movie. Right? But it’s real…
Agnieszka: He had to trust…
Gregg: And is it really to trust? But, and, and somehow he and his wife, maybe his wife couldn’t get off the train. I don’t remember, but he ended up in the safe house. They crossed the border separately and did not see each other for another 15 days. They were not able to, I mean, just that story was so chilling to me, and I bring him up because he did a lot of media about the Congress.