Mark Adomanis is a 25-year old writer based in Washington DC who holds degrees in Russian studies from both Harvard and Oxford. He blogs about Russia on the same True/Slant website that also publishes one of our favorite Russia bloggers, Julia Ioffe, and came to our attention with some comments on her blog. Some Russophiles call him a CIA spy, while some Russophobes think he’s a KGB plant. Recently, La Russophobe sat down (virtually) with Adomanis to pick his brain on the man called Vladimir Putin, focusing on political murders, corruption, elections and economics.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: We’ll start right out with the question that gives rise to our interest in this interview. In a March 24, 2010 post on your blog, debating with fellow True/Slant blogger Barrett Brown, you stated: “Some of us already knew about the [Moscow apartment] bombings and Putin’s role in them! Some of us have known about them for over a decade, since they happened in 1999!” There are those who would argue that, regardless of any other factors, if Putin had any role in the murder of nearly 300 Russian citizens and injuring over 600 others, he should never have become “president,” and indeed should have been prosecuted and jailed. Do you disagree?
MARK ADOMANIS: I think “should” is the operative word here. Should Putin have become president if he had a role in the 1999 apartment bombings? No I suppose he “should” not have. But he did. Moreover, when Putin became president he had the full backing and support of Yeltsin and his close advisers (particularly Boris Berezovsky.). In a perfect world I suppose that all of the people responsible for the apartment bombings would be rotting in jail, but the world, and Russia in particular, is exceedingly far from being perfect.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Sergei Yushenkov, who took the lead in an informal investigation of the apartment bombings that sprouted when the official inquiry was stonewalled, and Yuri Shchekochikhin, a key staff member of Yushenkov’s committee, were murdered in 2003, in the run-up to Putin’s reelection bid, before they could complete their work. Do you believe Putin had any role in those killings, or do you think they came as a complete surprise to him?
MARK ADOMANIS: I don’t see why the only two options are that either Putin is personally responsible for these killings or that they came as “complete surprise” to him. I’d be pretty surprised if Putin had any direct involvement in ordering or carrying out these killings, he seems far too clever for that sort of thing, but I’d also be surprised if he was totally flabbergasted by them. You can, accurately I think, fault Putin for creating a general political and social atmosphere where such attacks are possible, but I don’t think he bears personal responsibility: the killer was probably some level-level FSB type who was trying to “impress” his superiors by disposing of people considered dangerous to the governing power structure.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Can’t you also fault Putin for failing to root out that FSB killer?
MARK ADOMANIS: Yes, I suppose you can. However I also suppose that in any rational calculus of priorities in early 2000’s Russia (remember the country was basically bankrupt, was naturally shrinking by the better part of a million people a year, and was fighting a shooting war in Chechnya) “catching murderers of liberal opposition journalists” was pretty far down the list. As I said, states are nasty, brutal, things, and it doesn’t shock me when people who openly oppose them have bad things happen to them.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Shortly after Yushenkov and Shchekochikhin were killed, their committee’s lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin was arrested, and days later dissident oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky (rumors were flying that he’d challenge for the presidency) was taken in. It’s obvious that Putin called those shots, for political reasons, isn’t it?
MARK ADOMANIS: Trepashkin seems to be a pretty small fish for Putin to become personally involved with. As in the previous answer, my guess is that his arrest was probably the result of low-level functionaries trying to “impress” their superiors and demonstrate their worth. However, yes, I think it’s abundantly clear that Khodorkovsky’s arrest was ordered by Putin and was directly related to politics and, more particularly, to his open challenge to the Kremlin.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Human rights and democracy crusader Galina Starovoitova was murdered a couple of months after Putin was suddenly placed in charge of the KGB (we’ll get to why you think he got that promotion later). In your view, did Putin have any role in that killing?
MARK ADOMANIS: I don’t have any knowledge of the circumstances of Galina Starovoitova’s murder and don’t want to give the impression that I do.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: What about KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in London with radioactive poisoning while crusading to draw attention to the bombings? Was that a surprise to Putin?
MARK ADOMANIS: I’ve read a bit about Litvinenko’s murder and certainly find Russian involvement in it plausible (if not proven beyond any doubt) though the whole story does seem to be a pretty bizarre one. So, yes, I suppose that Litvinenko’s death didn’t come as a huge shock to Putin.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: You’ve written that you think the story of Putin’s involvement in some or all of the killings we just discussed is old news. Are you sure of that? Isn’t it the case that, even in Russia itself, Putin’s popularity in polls is indicative that the public is still very much in the dark? After all, what would it say about the people of Russia if, knowing Putin had played a roll in murdering hundreds of his fellow citizens, he was still viewed with adoration? Is the Russia you know capable of that level of barbarism?
MARK ADOMANIS: Yes, I am quite certain that those killings are old news. I honestly don’t know how much more coverage they could receive. Any minimally inquisitive person with an internet connection can pull up hundreds upon hundreds of stories about all of these murders and assassinations. I think most Russians simply don’t care about most of what you’ve asked about or, if they do care, view the matter in an entirely different light. Arresting Khodorkovsky, for example, (which I assume you think was a reprehensible thing to do) was probably the single most popular thing Putin did during his two terms as president: Khororkovsky was loathed by the great majority of citizens who (rightly, in my humble view) saw him not as a crusader for democracy but as a two-bit swindler and thief who had gotten rich while the country collapsed and people died in the streets.
As for what all of this says about Russians, it says that, like all people, they are somewhat credulous, uninquisitive, and easily distracted. People like to believe in pleasant-sounding myths and are almost always unwilling to confront information that doesn’t fit with their preconceived worldview. So most Russians, I imagine, would simply ignore most of what you’ve talked about so far and instead focus on the improved economy, raised living standards, etc.
And concerning “barbarism:” all states are violent and nasty things and the Russian state has historically been nastier and more violent than most. Having done my best to read history, I am never shocked by mankind’s essentially unlimited capacities for brutality, cruelty, and stupidity.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: But the vast majority of Russians don’t have an internet connection, and if they did they could not afford to use it much and they would lack the English language skills to fully exploit it. “All people” don’t live in a state like Russia where the government directly controls all the national TV networks, which provide the vast majority of citizens with their news. Are you aware of any data showing that a majority of Russians know about the series of murders aimed at those who tried to investigate the apartment bombings? Has Russian national TV ever covered them, to your knowledge?
MARK ADOMANIS: Well something like 33% (and growing) of the Russian population has an internet connection and the liberal opposition, even by the most generous reckoning, can count on maybe 15% of the population’s support. Internet penetration has been exploding in Russia over the past decade and during that time opposition to Putin has, if anything, been shrinking, so I don’t think that “knowledge from the internet” is quite the elixir to pro-Putin sentiment that you might expect it to be. My Russian-language columns on the INOSMI website attract what appears to be a lively and energetic following, and the opinions expressed there by the Russian readership are (as one would expect in any country) all over the map politically: some thing I’m a Kremlin whore, some thing I’m a Washington whore, and a plurality seem to think I have some vague idea what I’m talking about.
As for media coverage of the bombings, they (the bombings) occurred when Putin had not yet consolidated his position, that is when Russia’s media was still “free.” Of course at the time rich and powerful people like Boris Berezovsky, who was then a major Putin ally, told their stable of bought-and-paid-for journalists to shut their mouths and, these journalists mostly obeyed the orders they were given.
I also specifically stated that people like to believe in “pleasant-sounding myths.” So, no, I don’t know the exact percentage of Russians who know about the murders, but I don’t think it matters: the narrative of Putin as savior of the nation is, at this point, strong enough to endure almost any revelation.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: OK, let’s shift gears from murder to corruption. A wealth of international studies reveal that Russia is one of the most corrupt major nations on the planet, something that’s no news to anyone who’s spent much time living there. Do you believe that Vladimir Putin himself is immune from this national plague, or do you think he’s lining his pockets just like everyone else?
MARK ADOMANIS: I have no specialized knowledge of Putin’s personal corruption, or the lack thereof. As best I can tell, anyone who actually possess such knowledge has kept their mouth very tightly shut (which is probably a wise thing to do). I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Putin has done a bit, or even quite a lot, of pocket lining, but that is an utterly unexceptional and banal thing for a politician. Much more important than the reality of Putin’s corruption/lack of corruption is the image he has created as being personally honest, competent, and above the fray. This is an immediately recognizable Russian tradition, the “good tsar,” who is aware of corruption, crime, and other bad things abut is unable to effectively deal with them due to incompetent underlings. Putin’s reputation as a personally honest and upstanding leader seems to have a fair bit of staying power in Russia, and my guess is that it would take quite a lot to unravel it.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: As we understand your answer, you’re saying you have no reason to think Putin is personally any less corrupt than his countrymen, who are among the most corrupt people on this planet. Do you mean to say you think a person who openly accused Putin of personal corruption might be killed? Are you seriously suggesting that you don’t think Putin has lined his personal pockets any more than Barack Obama or Gordon Brown or Nikolas Sarkozy have done while in office?
MARK ADOMANIS: Would someone who accused Putin of corruption necessarily be killed? Well no, the guy who openly accused him of pocketing $40 billion through corrupt gas and oil deals is still alive and kicking. But it’s never a wise idea to insult the governing power structure, particularly in a traditionally hierarchical and autocratic society like Russia. As for Putin’s corruption vis-a-vis Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, or Nicholas Sarkozy, I really have no idea of the exact quantitative relationship. I would guess that his level of corruption, whatever it may be, is as much within the “rules of the game” in Russia as Obama’s, Brown’s, or Sarkozy’s are in their own countries. These sorts of norms differ radically from country to country and, to use a somewhat hackish example, a bribe that in the Netherlands may appear to be an outrageous sign of almost unimaginable corruption and decay may, in Italy, be a totally normal and unexceptional part of doing business. It all depends what country you’re talking about, and in Russia Putin is very firmly within the mainstream (and has even positioned himself publicly as a politician who is more honest than most).
LA RUSSOPHOBE: We think the strangest single fact about today’s Russia is that while Russians loathed Boris Yetlsin they did not hesitate to hand power to his hand-picked successor, Putin. You’ve written that Putin suddenly became head of the KGB, prime minister and then president all in the stunning space of less than two years “so Yeltsin could protect the fantastically large sums of ill-gotten money belonging to his ‘family’ of close associates.” As such, as the direct result of what you’ve called “mind-bending corruption” in the Yeltsin era, isn’t Putin disqualified from holding office, especially since he’s blocked so many candidates, including his own former prime minister, from opposing him at the polls? Isn’t Putin illegitimate by any rational standard?
MARK ADOMANIS: Yeltsin and his family” thought that Putin would be a complacent yes-man: that he would be easily manipulable, that he wouldn’t make any dramatic changes, and that he would basically do whatever the oligarchs told him. They thought wrong. Putin was many things, some good some bad, but he was very clearly not Berezovsky’s bag man, and a great deal of his popularity is due do the fact that he very publicly stood up to the corrupt gaggle of kleptocrats who surrounded and controlled Yeltsin.
As for Putin’s “legitimacy” my opinion doesn’t have any significance whatsoever: he’s in power, he doesn’t have any plans to leave, and, most importantly of all, the majority of the Russian population appears to approve of him. I try to deal with the world as it is, and the idea that Putin or Medvedev will in the near future be displaced by Nemtsov, Illarionov, or any of Russia’s liberal opposition is farcical because those “politicians” have negligible support among Russia’s populace. Putin was able to swipe aside the liberals so easily, and with such few consequences, because of the simple fact that very few Russians want anything to do with them. Unless that changes, the present power structure will enjoy a sort of legitimacy by default because there is no effective opposition to it.
I’ve said time and again that Putin and Medvedev’s fates are almost entirely dependent on the performance of Russia’s economy. If it continues to grow and living standards continue to improve modestly, neither of which seems unlikely because Russia’s economy is still several generations behind the advanced Western countries, then their “legitimacy,” such as it is, will be safe. If Russia’s economy enters a long period of stagnation or decline, then all bets are off and I’d expect there to be some sort of social/political cataclysm.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Are you saying the concept of morality has no significance for you where the goverment of nations is concerned? Out of curiosity, why do you think Russians endorsed Putin rather than rejecting him as the hated Yeltsin’s stooge?
MARK ADOMANIS: Morality as defined by whom? As defined by Washington I would argue that “morality” (i.e. “the US get to do whatever it wants, and everyone else has to abide by ‘the rules'”) has no meaning whatsoever: the list of double standards embraced and or ignored by the US has grown far too long to even bother recounting. I would love it if some rational calculus of “morality” would govern international relations, as it would probably make the world a much more decent place, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to occur.
As for why Russians endorsed Putin rather than “rejecting him as the hated Yeltin’s stooge” I would say because Putin very publicly and very deliberately acted to avoid being seen as Yeltsin’s stooge. He took on people like Berezovsky (who was basically running the government during large sections of Yeltsin’s presidency) and Khodorkovsky (who was also very friendly with good old Boris) and openly humiliated them. He also made it very widely and publicly known that the oligarchs who had grown accustomed to calling the shots, were on notice and would be dealt with harshly if they stepped out of line. The Russian public, by all accounts, was smitten by this.
I’d also add that Putin was young, sober, and seemingly intelligent, while Yeltsin had been a tragicomic farce of a bumbling drunken idiot. There are other many other reasons for Putin’s popularity, but the shaming of the oligarchs and the image of sobriety and youth vis-a-vis the drunkenness and decay of Yeltsin are, I think the primary ones.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: If you could name the man or woman who would succeed Dmitri Medvedev as “president” of Russia, who would you select and why
MARK ADOMANIS: This answer reflects my own narrow specialty, but if I had to choose anyone it would be Tatiana Golikova, the minister of health and social development. She is, or at the very least appears to be, a forward looking, intelligent, honest, competent, dedicated, and rational woman of a rather liberal outlook, with significant experience in understanding how the Russian state actually functions, who has done quite a lot to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. While Russia’s healthcare system is still rather ramshackle it’s in a lot better shape now than it was before she took over its management, and she seems to understand the pressing need to safeguard the country’s human capital.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: The United Nations recently published a report indicating that if the status quo ante continues Russia will exhaust its oil and gas reserves by 2070. Not surprising, then, that Russia is feverishly looking for ways to drill the Arctic seabed. As we see it, Putin has failed to diversify Russia’s economy to anticipate the crisis that is coming on energy because of two factors. First he’s too busy waging a new cold war against the West he learned to hate in the KGB, and second to do so would create multiple new centers of power that could threaten his government. What’s your take?
MARK ADOMANIS: I haven’t heard of this UN report, but I’m not sure why you regard it as gospel truth (I’m going to assume that vehemently disagree with UN-produced reports about Iraq, Guantanamo, Israel, etc.). Even if the report is 100% accurate, 2070 isn’t exactly around the corner: given the resource scarcity which is steadily becoming more apparent, I’d imagine that Russia is going to earn a fairly large chunk of change selling its energy resources before everything is all said and done.
I think you vastly overestimate the personal role of Vladimir Putin in Russia’s economic development. Allow me to go slightly off topic for a second by looking at Ukraine. That country is much more democratic and liberal than Russia, but its economic performance has, by any rational standard, been abysmal: it’s GDP per-capita is less than half of Russia’s, it grew more slowly than Russia did after the 1998-9 financial crisis, experienced a much more severe recession in 2008-9, and is set to experience slower growth in 2010. Has Ukraine succeeded in diversifying its economy? Absolutely not, the country is today in 2010 almost entirely dependent on metallurgical production in general and steel in particular. This is not because Ukraine’s political elite is anti-Western or evil, but because the country inherited an almost cartoonishly wasteful and inefficient economy from the Soviets. Russia inherited a similarly dreadful economic structure, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that the country is still overwhelmingly dependent on energy exports (it has been similarly dependent on such exports since the early 1970’s).
As for the “new cold war” I think that such a concept is almost perfectly useless for understanding Russian behavior. Russia is about to conclude a visa-free travel agreement, and possibly agree on the construction of a nuclear power plant, with Turkey, which has been a member in good standing of NATO for over fifty years. I humbly suggest that such agreements would never in a million years have been considered during the actual cold war.
Further, I’d add that ideology was an absolutely critical component of the original cold war, and that it is completely missing from Russia’s present political system.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: We realize this question is somewhat ironic because of our own reputation for tough rhetoric, but even by our standards some of your blog posts seem rather reckless in their use of language. In particular, in one blog post you referred to tireless scholar Paul Goble, who’s been recognized for his Russia reporting by the New York Times and the Moscow Times among others, as a “whore.” As we see it, Goble does almost no editorializing and performs a very valuable service reviewing the Russian press for non-speakers of Russian. In hindsight, wouldn’t you agree that language was ill-advised and poorly reflects on your academic institutions, and could be misconstrued to imply you are an admirer and friend of Putin?
MARK ADOMANIS: I purposefully make no mention of my previous academic institutions on the “about me” section in my blog because I think they have no relevance whatsoever. I write what I write, and my writing’s accuracy or inaccuracy isn’t in the least bit impacted by the fact that I have “Harvard” written on a piece of paper lying somewhere in my closet. I learned a very long time ago that many deeply stupid and foolish people hail from “elite” universities, and that I should concern myself more with working hard than with patting myself on the back for having a certain name on my transcripts. People are welcome to imply whatever they please about my writing and my positions vis-a-vi Putin: I will let my analysis speak for itself.
As for Paul Goble, I have no problem with my description of him. His job is to studiously dig through rags like Novaya Gazeta, find the most unhinged anti-Putin rants he can lay his hands on, translate them, and then print them as “authoritative” sources. His editorializing takes place through his choice of content, which is inevitably alarmist and hysterical in tone (and frequently revealed to be extremely inaccurate). I’m just amazed that after all these years he still has the patience to churn out amount of content he does so I can at least admire his persistence.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: For the record, your blog instructs those who are intersted in your background to Google you and find out, and they easily can. Do you mean by referring to Novaya Gazeta as a “rag” some form of disparagement? Many of its reporters have been killed because of their writing, of course. Can you name a more important public critic of the Putin regime in the Russian media than Novaya Gazeta?
MARK ADOMANIS: I suppose I could actively try to purge the web of sites that mention where I went to school, but I don’t have the time, skill, or effort to do so. If people are REALLY interested in knowing where I went to school, good for them, they’re welcome to look, but I won’t preemptively wave my diploma in anyone’s face because, frankly, it doesn’t impact any of the matters at hand. Being “anti-Putin” and being “accurate” are two very different things. Novaya Gazeta is unremittingly anti-Putin but, in my brief experiences with the paper, they are almost unremittingly wrong. I remember reading somewhere, perhaps it was The Exile or perhaps Sean Guillory, that Politkovskaya was “a very admirable, a very brave, and very loopy woman” and I suppose that would be my reaction to the general cast of liberal opposition journalists: I immensely respect the sheer bravery and physical courage it takes to be a reporter in Russia, but, for whatever reason, a lot of what they write is just crap. I fervently wish that Russia had a more competent opposition, but all indications are that it remains wrapped up in totally discredited and radically unpopular 1990’s market bolshevism.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: You called Goble a whore, which implies he’s being paid to criticize the Kremlin by somebody. By whom, and how do you know?
MARK ADOMANIS: The guy has been in the employ of the US government for several decades. Is it really so completely impossible, radical, and counter-intuitive to think that he’s being paid to criticize one of the US government’s major foreign antagonists? But OK maybe “whore” was a stretch. How about “factually challenged” or “constantly inaccurate” or “alarmist and hysterical,” would those descriptions be more palatable? In my experience reading Goble is (much like Russian manufacturing in the 1990’s) negative value added: you understand less about Russia after reading his columns than you did before doing so.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Are you saying you think the New York Times and the Moscow Times are both foolish to recognize Goble’s work? Can you name any other blogger who provides as much translation from Russia media into English as Goble? Shouldn’t bloggers be encouraged to do so, rather than discouraged?
MARK ADOMANIS: So the New York Times is suddenly a beacon of truth for you? I was pretty sure you regarded the New York Times as a degenerate haven of liberal traitors, but maybe your estimation of its editorial orientation has changed. As for encouraging or discouraging bloggers, I have never said that Paul Goble should be banned, or that he shouldn’t be allowed to write, I have merely said that, since he is always wrong about everything, anyone who cares about actually understanding Russia should not pay him much mind since his analytical track record is so abysmal. But if he wants to keep churning out alarmist screeds stating that Russia is going to collapse next Thursday at 8:45 am, he is more than welcome to do so. This is (for now) a free country, and anyone can say whatever they want about anything.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: If you don’t mind, let’s get personal. How much time have you spent in Russia? What cities have you visited? Would you say you have close personal friends there? What’s the nicest thing that happened do you while in Russia, and what’s the worst?
MARK ADOMANIS: I really don’t see how this is relevant. I very openly, and deliberately, state that people should judge my writing on its own merits and on its accuracy. I have been to Russia (like most Western visitors to Petersburg and Moscow) for several weeks to do some thesis research but don’t consider my experiences there terribly relevant to my writing because I didn’t get to do as much traveling as I would have liked to. Several people whom I consider close personal friends live and work in Russia, and several other friends were born and raised there, and I trust that they will let me know if my writing/analysis ever gets too far out of line.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Last question. Our perception is that those who see your blog as an endorsement of the Putin government are way off base. As we understand it, you’re a natural contrarian and delight in being politically incorrect, and you are peeved by any statement you view as inaccurate, even if it’s a negative comment about a monster like, say, Stalin, and it’s these factors that give rise to your many statements which appear to defend Putin. Are we off base or are they? Would you consider spending a little more time in the future bursting balloons Putin’s supporters have inflated as well as those from his critics?
MARK ADOMANIS: I was raised to value truth, and I consider it to be an absolute defense in all cases. I was also raised/born with a deeply ingrained disgust with falsehood, particularly lies that are deliberately told. I don’t know exactly why, but people who lie really drive me batty, and I expect this comes out in my writing. One of the things I consider most reprehensible about Soviet Communism was its deeply ingrained mendacity – its inability to tell the truth about anything of importance (Robert Conquest’s writing does a particularly good job of unmasking the rank untruth of Stalinism) . But lies are lies are lies: they are bad if told by communist apparatchiks, and just as bad when relayed by employees of Radio Free Europe. I don’t have any “side” nor do I play for any “team” so I’ll just do my best to call things as I see it and apologize when I’m wrong.
When I was researching and writing my thesis I was appalled by the sloppiness and factual inaccuracy of many Western analyses of Russian demographics: it took all of 30 minutes of real, legitimate, research to see that much of what was being described in the US media was simply not true. I was also surprised by the utter contempt demonstrated by serious academics towards the more alarmist media outlets. In short: I don’t think it’s particularly challenging to criticize Vladimir Putin’s record as prime minister, I myself have done this more than once (and in my Russian-language column on the INOSMI website been called, among other things, a “Baltic provocateur,” a “Greek spy,” a prostitute, and a CIA agent), so I have exceedingly little patience when people insist on doing it in a hackneyed and dishonest manner.
At the present time the overwhelming majority of stories in the Western media are virulently anti-Putin. I honestly can’t think of a single remotely prominent English-language media figure who regards Putin with anything but disgust. Since my writing is targeted at an English-speaking audience and deals largely with English-language media I’m not even sure which “Pro-Putin” figures I would target. But rest assured, if Joe Biden wakes up tomorrow morning and for some reason starts singing hosannas to Vladimir Putin I’ll be the very first person to call him an idiot.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Well, here’s two suggestions as to who you could target. First, the Russia Today propaganda network. Second, Pat Buchanan. How about spending some time exposing the pro-Russia “whore” that is Russia Today and/or Buchanan?
MARK ADOMANIS: Russia Today is pretty openly associated with the Kremlin, and I don’t think they really even make a pretense of hiding this. They also enjoy a qualitatively different level of exposure that places like Fox News or CNN.
As for Pat Buchanan, I truthfully don’t remember any “pro-Putin” pieces of his, but I do remember some pretty wacky stuff about Sarah Palin and the Second World War. I really don’t know what to think of Buchanan, he seems to be motivated almost entirely by resentment and emotion and to not have even a minimally consistent political philosophy. The only remotely identifiable set of positions to which he ascribes is Roman Catholicism, and I imagine his strongly felt religious identity would sharply limit his Russophilia. But I suppose I could pay closer attention to his columns and occasionally call him out for his dastardly pro-Kremlin ways.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: Thanks for your time, Mark. And good luck with your blog!
MARK ADOMANIS: Thank you for the interview, I hope I was able to explain myself clearly.