Lola Tagaeva: "I don't consider people who lead the country to ruin patriots.
Lola Tagaeva is an experienced political journalist, editor, and media manager. She worked for two years in the Kremlin pool for Novaya Gazeta. She hosted news and political programs on Dozhd and later was editor-in-chief of the TV channel's newsroom. In April, Lola launched her own media outlet, Verstka, which Roskomnadzor blocked in Russia a month and a half later. "I feel responsible for what's going on and that's why I launched my media. Everyone has to do what they can do. I can work with information because, as the war has shown, it is the most important weapon," says the creator of "Wirth." Watch the new issue of the Eyewitness Project with Lola Tagaeva.
Tell us about yourself.
- I am 37 years old, and I head the publication "Verstka," which was launched two months after the war began. In fact, "Verstka" is one of the projects that was launched precisely because of the war, because it became clear that the worst was happening to Russian journalism. It is clear that just in time of war, more than ever, journalists have to work especially hard, and material has to appear that tells what is happening in Russia and in all the territories where war is going on. As we know, actually, the Russian state, on the contrary, adopted a policy of annihilation from the very beginning of the war, so I decided that I had to launch my media and tell about what was happening, first of all about the problems. Well, if I were to characterize what we do, it's more like this kind of teeth-grinding social media and politics.
Your first thoughts and feelings on February 24?
- I think everyone answers this question the same way. It's a foul six-letter word, starting with the letter P. Well, there was horror and consternation, some attempt to just realize the new reality. Although I felt it was going to happen and even wrote on Facebook a month before the war started that I believed there would be a war because I had been doing political journalism as a political journalist and as an editor for many years.
I had the misfortune to know the president of Russia intimately and to understand the psychology of this person. In general, political institutions develop according to the same scenario: if there are fewer and fewer rights and freedoms, the dictatorship will somehow lead to aggression not only internally, but also externally, which is why there was aggression in 2008 in Georgia, and in 2014 it was clear that all this would further increase, that is, it's only a matter of time and when it will close.
What kind of man is Putin?
- This is a man who will build up his influence with aggression indefinitely, like a gas that will fill the entire space exactly until someone fights back. And even in this situation, he will somehow regroup and look for some other hybrid ways to increase this influence. Here we are obviously dealing with an individual who is focused on infinitely increasing power, and we have watched journalists describing this process for 22 years, as it happened initially, starting to tighten the screws, gradually, little by little. The next step is what we're seeing now.
Whose fault is it that the lives of millions are ruined?
- Almost all Russians are responsible to one degree or another. Beginning in 2000, when the media was shut down, millions of people did not go out into the streets, when the first political prisoners were jailed, millions of people did not go out into the streets. It is everyone's responsibility for their country and for where it is heading who could be a little more critical, a little more responsible about what is happening. To be a lot less outside of politics and feel that he has this responsibility for what's going on. As far as blame goes, it's clear that there are individuals who made this decision.
Do you feel personally responsible for what is happening?
- Yes, that's why I started the media. Because I think everyone should do what they can do. I am a journalist and an editor. I can work with information, because that, as the war again showed, is the most important weapon right now.
Why did you leave Russia?
- I left Russia three years ago. I had a child and decided that I didn't want to raise him in a country that I knew what it was coming to. Even then.
How do you see the future of Russia?
- I think that everything will follow the scenario of further terrible escalation, aggression inside the country and outside, and then, all this will develop fractionally until the most severe crisis occurs, and we will still be remembering with warm nostalgia the 90s. I think it will be a crisis that will force people to reconsider some of their views, and there will not be a sudden stop to the regime that now exists. Everything has to collapse, it will be very hard and painful.
And after that, only after passing this point, it seems to me, can there be any serious changes. This is precisely why I really dislike the fact that in today's discourse in the information field, those telegraph channels and media outlets that adopt a pro-state and propaganda position and rhetoric are called patriotic, ultra-patriotic, and so on and so forth. I don't consider people who lead the country to ruin to be patriots, and it seems to me that a patriot is still a person who cheers and cares for the country, really trying to protect it from the pain and the disaster into which they are pushing it.
Why do so many people in Russia support the war?
- Because propaganda skillfully plays on inferiority complexes after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and plays on the complexes that it itself has created by constantly comparing itself to the West, contrasting and demonstrating that no, we are better. This is a very clumsy psychological game, but it works because the rhetoric, if you are for the state, then you support the officials who represent this state.
The question is simply that no one really represents us. The elections were stolen a long time ago - and stolen not only by the actual counting of votes, but simply by the impossibility of being nominated, the impossibility of working with independent media, and so on. It is simply a gang of people who have seized power and the main channels of communication.
Is the war going to last?
- This could drag on for several years, in one form or another, simply because, as I said, I have a little idea of the portrait of this man, and he will go all the way, and even if they lose in some areas, they will assemble for some crazy money another gang, with which they will play in these assemblies in Cossack robbery and will let them go on to fight. That is, as it was in the Donbass for eight years. This can all go on for a very long time, this conflict will be used in international politics as a trump card.
What are you most afraid of?
- What do I fear? I am afraid that Russia will not change, despite all the efforts of people who care about it with all their hearts.