On February 5, 2016, the pro-regime Russian website Pravda.ru published an interview with Russian political scientist Elena Ponomareva on the crisis in Syria and on other issues of global politics.
Asked why the West was criticizing Russia's role and actions in Syria, she said that this was part of its media campaign against Russia. Whenever Russia makes achievements or grows strong, she explained, the West presents it as a "monster" and wages "an informational, ideological, economic, political and psycho-historical war" against it. This, not only in order to fight its leaders but in order to bring about its "mental destruction" and "destroy the legacy of Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky so that they never come back."
Ponomareva added that, whenever the West demonizes a leader, it means that it intends to destroy that leader's country, as happened in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, in Yugoslavia with Milosevic, and in Libya with Gaddafi, and as is now happening with Assad in Syria. About the recent talks about Syria in Geneva, she says that they failed because the West insisted on including in them "radical and terrorist groups," and added that Russia must convince the U.S. that it has no intention of changing its Syria policy.
The following are excerpts from an English version of the interview that was published on the website.
Elena Ponomareva (image: rubaltic.ru, June 2, 2014)
World Politics Is All About The Mental Destruction Of Russia
Q: "British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that Russia's and Iran's participation in the talks on the Syrian problems would not bring any positive results, as Moscow and Tehran supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He claimed that Russia was bombing civilians in Syria. Why did such harsh accusations appear prior to the talks in Geneva?"
A: "The pressure continues. This is a part of the informational war of the West against Russia. The more success Russia achieves both internationally and domestically, the tougher the West will react to our achievements. If Russia is successful in regulating certain conflicts, the West will not leave Russia alone - Western leaders will shower Russia with accusations. We have entered into a very long and difficult period of the informational, ideological, economic, political and psycho-historical war.
"World politics is all about the mental destruction of Russia. Churchill said during WWII that he was not fighting against Hitler - he was fighting against the German poet and philosopher Friedrich] Schiller. Churchill said that about the German nation. Nowadays, Western leaders are struggling not only against Putin as a symbol of Russia - they are trying to destroy the legacy of Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky so that they never come back.
"The West is putting pressure on all of Russia's initiatives. No reasonable arguments are given; there is no dialogue. Simply put, no matter what Russia may propose, Western politicians and media interpret it as something absurd, bad, evil, something aggressive and expansionist...
"The West sees Russia as a monster. Yet I believe that there is nothing terrible there. It has always been like that: as soon as Russia appears as a strong power, the West tries to trash RussiaÔÇª Nevertheless, we must understand that the truth is on our side, as we are acting in the interests of our country. Politics is about defending interests, and Western leaders constantly reaffirm thatÔÇª
"When Russia is miserable, the West sees that as something normal. When Russia is rising, the West sees that as a threatÔÇª
"As soon as Russia realized that the so-called 'universal values' were contrary to our national interests, that they infringed upon our sovereignty and brought chaos to the world, Russia took the position to protect its interests. In return, the West showed us its teeth and claws. Our position must be clear and firm. We do not need to make excuses to anybody, we just need to do our job."
The West Demonizes Political Leaders When It Wants To Destroy Their Countries
Q: "Why is the West demonizing Bashar al-Assad, comparing him to Hitler, calling him the butcher who killed more than 200,000 Syrians?"
A: "We have seen examples like that in history before. Not that long ago, Western tabloids were calling Slobodan Milosevic the new Hitler too, the butcher of Belgrade. This resulted in the bombing and dismemberment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia used to be a serious player in the region. Today, neither Serbia nor Montenegro have any significance in the region, let alone the narco-terrorist state, the so-called partially-recognized Republic of Kosovo. All this indirect evidence suggests that Milosevic was killed in the Hague prison. Today, multinational companies control the economic situation in these countries, starting from the banking sector and ending with the media and policy-makers.
"The same happened in Libya, where they demonized Gaddafi. Then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton screamed with happiness on camera when she learned about the brutal murder of Gaddafi - that's how twisted her brain was. There was also Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and now it's Assad's turn in Syria. The West is attacking Assad not just because he is a demon or something - the West needs to dismember SyriaÔÇª
"Syria is already in chaosÔÇª If the West is demonizing a political leader, it means that the West has a goal to destroy his state. This is a litmus test."
Q: "What can you say about the talks in Geneva?"
A: "Of course, negotiations are vital in the settlement of any crisisÔÇª The Geneva talks have not brought any change. They were shrouded in a spirit of confrontation from the start. Western partners are trying to bring together representatives of clearly radical and terrorist groups. Of course, one cannot equally approach the positions of the United States and Russia. It is the leading players that should come to an agreement among themselvesÔÇª
"One needs to negotiate with the puppeteers of the Syrian crisis - those who initiated and supported it - the United States. We need to convince the Americans that Russia will not pedal back."
 Pravda.Ru is a pro-government Russian news and opinion website. According to its former Director General, Vadim Gorshenin, it is the successor of Pravda, the official mouthpiece of the Soviet Union's Communist Party. It was founded by prominent members of Pravda's editorial staff who left it in 1999, and today it is privately owned by Pravda.ru Holding, of which Gorshenin is the head. Its current Director General, Inna Novikova, is Gorshenin's wife.
The Pravda.Ru website publishes in four languages: Russian, English, Italian, Portuguese, and has more than 200,000 visitors daily. According Gorshenin, the English version is the second most popular English-language Russian website, after Russia Today (Pravda.ru, September 16, 2013).
 Elena Ponomareva is a doctor of political science at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Mgimo.ru), and president of the International Institute of Scientific Cooperation.
 Pravdareport.com, February 5, 2016. The text has been lightly edited for clarity. A longer version of the interview, in Russian, was published on the site the same day.