Who among the current Russian diplomats is the best known after the Minister of foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov? Deep connoisseurs of the subject will definitely answer this question in very different ways. But if we talk about the General public, that 90% is guaranteed to call the name Maria Zakharova — Director of the Department of information and press of the foreign Ministry and the man who revolutionized how our foreign Ministry interacts with the press and with society.
When my phone lights up the name “Maria Zakharova,” I, even not knowing what it is beforehand emit a heavy sigh.
Maria Vladimirovna rarely calls or writes to me for good reasons. Usually its “persistent requests” reduced approximately to the following: “this article of your colleagues got it wrong and incorrectly stated the position of the foreign Ministry. Correct, please, hurry!”
A particularly dramatic episode of the indirect participation of Maria Zakharova happened in my life last year before my big interview with Sergey Lavrov. Communication with the Minister is constantly postponed. And, in anticipation of another such shift, I decided on the weekend to take off to the mountains again to get back on skis, which are conventionally mastered a few weeks before the events described. And it had to happen: when I was already on my phone pericolo message from Zakharova: “Tomorrow at 11.00”.
Developed this episode: to catch a plane, I was forced down a hill, whose slope clearly exceeds the “coolness” of my ski abilities. At some point the inevitable happened — I fell. And, flying down, lying on back and more entangled in the skis, I only thought about one thing: in what form will be presented to Sergei Lavrov, and will live there, in principle, to rendezvous with the Minister.
fortunately, all ended well: not affected neither I nor my unchangeable deep respect for Maria Zakharova — to her professionalism, her perseverance, her persistence, her strength of character. Very glad that we were able to discuss all these features the main informationsee the Russian foreign Ministry during our big interview.
Mary, as you inside block the load of hatred, which daily falls on you on social networks by users from some countries, especially Ukraine? What gives you the strength to move on?
— typically, when people Express their point of view in an aggressive manner, this is for two reasons.
the First is the absence of other arguments. It is one hundred percent working rule. Now, when we have arguments, he will never stoop to insults, personal attacks and so on. He just laid out his point of view.
And the second reason is that very often people go to insults��because I have extreme pain. It is the only way to Express their pain is to hurt the other.
— what makes you extended to interpret their duties is to argue on social networks with a deliberately implacable opponents?
— first, understanding that the truth is born in dispute. Secondly, dialogue is what can lead to problem-solving. I do not see or know any other methods of resolving disputes other than through communication including with those whom you have called a deliberately implacable opponents.
Sergei Lavrov once said that diplomacy is a profession, which is based on the ability to negotiate. But to agree, or at least move in this direction, we first need to engage in dialogue — even the hard and implacable.
— Before you came “on stage” is a collective image of the press Secretary of the MFA of Russia — is a serious man who is without emotion read on the paper a semi-official text. What inspired you to radically change this image? Difficult if you have the guts?
— Most emphatically do not agree with your assessment of my predecessors. And if I remind you of the names of some of them, I am sure you will also agree with me. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Grigory Karasin, Vitaly Churkin, Alexander Yakovenko — each of these people remembered the audience and professionals. Each of them largely “broke” some professional stereotypes, and has become in terms of information with world-class.
It is the experience of colleagues, who to me was the head of the information direction in the Russian foreign Ministry, and formed my understanding of what to look for in this job. But each new period of world history dictates new challenges and makes the search for response to new challenges.
the Challenge of our time is the emergence of social networks. This made the absolute necessity of a direct dialogue not only with journalists and people who are professionally engaged in international relations, but also with a wider audience.
— do Not bend if you stick, communicating with a wider audience? What can you respond to your critics who accuse you of “gopnicheskaya” – style of diplomacy — the use of emotionally charged vocabulary?
— the Use of emotionally charged vocabulary is not exactly our “discovery”. It became part of international relations owing to the emergence of social networks.
10-15 Years ago, we initially could not even understand where we hear such a very strange and emotionally charged comments the foreign Ministers of other countries. Then it turned out that they give such short, succinct, emotionally-charged comments across social networks, thRES Twitter.
This form of diplomacy very quickly turned into the new reality of international relations. Instead of traditional forms of work in the form of articles, publications, interviews, politicians and diplomats around the world began to use the short (then post to Twitter was still restricted to 140 characters) and as you rightly said, emotionally charged comments.
not to fit into this form of communication we had. She very quickly became widespread and at the level of heads of States and at the level of heads of foreign policy departments. In this case, we were pioneers, we were just practicing, studying and perceived foreign experience.
— do Your parents have a direct relation to diplomacy, so I’m not asking why you chose this profession. Instead I’ll ask: did you have the temptation to choose some other path activities?
— Forced again slightly to correct you. My father is an orientalist, who do at some stage worked at the Russian Embassy in Beijing. He is now retired, but continues to work as an expert in the same direction.
But my mother has never been linked to any diplomacy, nor public service. She’s an art critic, an expert on the history of art, the person who is special emphasis in his work has made into educational work with children, the author of many books, publications and projects.
At this point when I began to choose my career, I faced a very serious dilemma. I was curious about everything: art, international relations.
While I have always been interested and math. I had very serious doubts about the direction I choose. But at some point these thoughts, I suddenly realized: in the field of international information can be combined and work on external policy, and creativity, and the ability to learn new technologies. This predetermined my choice.
— As in any other profession, very few young diplomats reach the top. Do you think at what expense did you do it?
— If you talk about luck and fortune, that I was very lucky with mentors — experienced professionals, who were able have amazing human qualities.
I remember my first head, it was the chief editor of “Diplomatic Herald” Valery Balmashnov. A year and a half in this direction gave me a lot in terms of working with text. Extensive work began under the supervision of the Director of the Department of information and press of the Ministry of foreign Affairs Alexander Yakovenko, who now occupies the post of rector of the Diplomatic Academy. He instilled in employees a sense of consistency in the approach to the profession. To further my luck, I would work under the auspices of the current Ambassador to Beijing Andrey Denisov, and the late Vitaly Churkin.
the fact that you are a woman helped or hindered you to make a career?
— This fact me did not help and not hinder. He just was part of me and in no way affected the workflow. The main thing in this process is the professionalism and brand of the business atmosphere that always prevailed in our team.
the women in the world of diplomacy is becoming more and they are tough negotiators, I mean. When a few months ago came to Moscow the foreign Minister of Sweden, Anne Linda, it turned out that talking at the table talks, we also touched on gender issues. And, oddly enough, being women, we played with different positions on this issue.
— If women make the tough diplomats, why in the foreign Ministry of Russia so few women in high positions?
I can’t say that women always work hard diplomats. It depends. The stiffness of a diplomat is associated largely with personality, not gender identity. As for the lack of a large number of women in high positions in the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Russia, it has a historical background. Until the end of 80-ies in our country was the stereotype that diplomacy — a purely male profession. As a result, in MGIMO has enrolled only a few students.
Now this stereotype has long gone. For the past three decades we have a completely equal treatment of women who are employed in the Ministry. They gradually move up, reaching new levels of professionalism. We have women ambassadors, genkonsula, Directors of departments, Deputy Directors, heads of departments.
it is Fundamentally important that Russian foreign policy has not gone the way of other countries that have put in the forefront some mandatory quota. Supposedly, it is imperative that women were present at certain positions in a certain proportion. In our case, it was made absolutely the right choice in favor of a system in which there is no artificial inhibition or, conversely, encourage the advancement of women. There is a natural course of events, when due to their professional work, the impact women have the opportunity to gradually move up the ladder.
— One of the main components of your work — a verbal duel with the Western colleagues. Happened with one of them a friendly, personal relationship?
I can’t say that we are friends, but we communicate professionally: conduct consultations, meetings, negotiations, find common ground, teachingstoem in the preparation of the activities of our leaders. In addition to the public part, which really seems at times very hard, there is a second dimension, where there is hard work with a partner.
We love Sergey Lavrov, including his normal human reactions like that of his famous remarks “about morons”. And how often do you have to get his comeuppance?
I would not call it the way you formulated. Sergey is able to speak very earnestly and effectively. And he doesn’t need to do this in communicating with employees and “bullying up” the emotional background.
the Minister may, literally one sentence to explain their dissatisfaction that becomes clear. His side never lack of respect for subordinates. Even if they do something wrong, Mr Lavrov always finds a correct word. For him the main thing is not to splash out your negative reaction, and explain how to do it, and to achieve the desired result.
How does your typical working day? When it starts and what time ends?
— To the situation of coronavirus is traditionally the day looked like this: it started at 9 am on Smolensk square and ended at about 8 PM. We have held meetings, worked with information, preparing materials, as well as many other events on the guide line.
Now, of course, that all changed. Work passed in a 24 hour format. And it is caused primarily by the need to help our citizens return to the country from abroad. The work is conducted in the framework of vnutripuzarnogo staff. Situation and crisis management centre of the Ministry of foreign Affairs which is the lead in this work, was reinforced with staff of a number of departments. So now the work is constructed without any time limits and restrictions. Honestly, before the 23 hours we’re not leaving.
— If you put aside this huge amount of work with compatriots like coronavirus has affected the work of the foreign Ministry? World diplomacy also went to the quarantine? Or work only increased?
In March, was a week moment of calm in the contacts of the foreign Ministry in connection with the cancellation of a large number of talks in Moscow and abroad. But then recovered in the form of teleconferencing, video, online communication. Therefore, the work has not stopped, only changed. As elsewhere, many of us are working on “udalenke”. But it’s the same job — remote only.
— I am in no way questioning the heroic work of the Ministry of foreign Affairs, rescuing our citizens from abroad. But many of them talk about the disruptions, confusion, contradictory signals from embassies and airlines, the inflated prices of the tickets and so on and so forth. How can you comment on that?
— Much of what you listed, unfortunately, had taken place. And due to the absolute novelty of the situation, which turned out to the whole world. Usually emergency evacuation of citizens from abroad is carried out only from one country, which was in the area of a disaster, high from several local points.
the Situation to abroad in different countries there are tens of thousands of people who need assistance to return, never did. The world through is simply not passed. Accordingly, before the agencies faced with the task of unprecedented scale.
In mid-March was showered with global transport logistics, began to close borders, impose new or additional measures of quarantine, people in droves have been unable to fly to Russia in connection with the transfer and further cancellation of flights. A paste was deployed to work on the organization of the return process of citizens.
however, it was necessary to consider also the situation in Russia itself. The operational headquarters under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova to take account of the epidemiology koterova the arrival of humans and has developed an algorithm that provides for the return of people to regions. Already difficult, but at least understand the task that was associated exclusively with the direction of the aircraft and the return of the people, has turned into a multi-component task on a global scale.
I had to learn to take into account many factors: the willingness of regions, the situation on the ground in the country where the aircraft (many States, in principle covering the sky and the border), netting the tickets of domestic airlines, the delivery of people to the airports in the country, given the measures of quarantine, collection of citizens ‘ personal data to build lists based on a regional anchor.
— did the Russian state, in your estimation, to cope with this “multicomponent global puzzle”?
— Work in full swing. Main achievement — I was able to start the process of removal based on the approved algorithm, although the mission seemed impossible.
on the one hand, you need to bring people back from abroad, and with another — to maintain the health in Russia of citizens. But this work is put on stream, the mechanism work. I think that in the future will form the basis of methodological material about the organization of such operations.
But in the beginning it was very difficult. The negative experience of the first day were taken into account. Further the algorithm of the export of citizens have already been adjusted in the direction of increasing complexity, bring out greater efficiency. First there was monocracy (one country — one Rthe region), then they became more complicated by adding additional regions. From the same country the flight departed in two regions. Then even more, for example, of two countries people were taken in two regions. This work has acquired a greater and greater scale. At the moment, the export activities are working relatively smoothly, people bring and place.
the Second block of work — the government’s decision on the allocation of overseas citizens who have remained there because of the lockdown, financial aid. The solution itself is unique. Usually countries provide their citizens with loans, if people are experiencing financial problems abroad. Russia took the decision to grant financial support. This is a truly historic decision. And, by the way, funding for such aid was allocated immediately.
Allocated once, but did not immediately reach those specific people who need help, right?
— You are right that in this part of work we are faced with a massive problem. It is associated with a huge number of applications, the refinement of personal data, to verify them.
the System of payments abroad the citizens until April this year simply did not exist. It was created by the Ministry of communications through the portal of public Services promptly and in really extreme conditions. It was created in a few days. This system is adjusted on the basis of the analysis of the positive and negative experiences.
the Main causes of the problems — errors when completing questionnaires, technological failures in connection with impossibility to carry out the necessary financial transactions, the lack of documents from the claimants, the problems with Bank cards and so on. Much of the system comes down in manual mode. The payments are made. Of course, not all need them, and many are getting them regularly. But there is good news: many are already receiving help.
Another problem is that feedback and, as many believe, “the lack of information about the flights”. The difficulty here is that the “single window” for remote solution of problems such a number of people (hundreds of thousands) was not provided.
Now, as for the “lack of flights”. This information appears on the portal of public Services only after the operational headquarters decides on the approval of the Board and lists of citizens which it is exported. Once this decision is made, it is also instantly published. There are still humanitarian cases that we decide, again, regardless of any instructions and rules, a human entering a location. As a rule, it concerns only that mothers, infants, seriously ill people. There are the most severe cases.
Let me ask you a question not only in as a journalist, but as a former owner of a mortgage. Mortgages, as you know, the process that spans several years. Whether I did, when during that time still sometimes out on vacation abroad? And, seriously, what you had in mind in his famous quote, which, as you say, was distorted and garbled?
— I Want to say again that my words were distorted. They were not only taken out of context. Are invested in the sense that the exact opposite of what I had in mind. I attributed those words and phrases are never uttered.
Very sorry to the people who are behind this misinformation, made up, unfortunately, his goal. I am very sad that many have decided that a thrown fake — it’s really my position.
No, it’s not my position. I never said and never thought. Nothing the presence of someone mortgage to the right and ability of this man to go abroad has not. Thanks to a deliberate dirty campaign appeared on the Internet allegedly my quote, which I never said about “caste”, “elite” and “the impossibility of going abroad with debt”. I’m talking about opposite things.
— Well, then let’s talk about what you said and what you meant.
— Here is the exact meaning of what I was talking about. Earlier, during my childhood (and it was 40 years ago), logic that was the basis of my upbringing was the fact that without solving the basic material issues, you cannot go to rest. Having said that, I immediately noted that this logic was too harsh, that now thinks it is a minority. That was so long ago, and with the globalization of the world, everything changed, people started to move freely. In fact, it directed the work of the foreign Ministry, the expansion of opportunities for contacts between people around the world.
Thus, any link between those and our current reality was initially completely wiped out. I opposed the era. The decision about their travel, their stay, each person now takes only yourself. That’s what I also said, noting it’s not the question of human responsibility before the state and society, and his personal business, and personal responsibility. Their inalienable right, which it was never intended and does not doubt.
— a Prominent figure in the Russian tourism industry Veronica Birman, called for your resignation, and later said that he agreed with you about working together. How did you manage to achieve this?
We conducted a three-hour online meeting with representatives of the tourism industry. During this conversation, I explained the thesis to��which we have just discussed, and drew attention to the distortion of my words, the spread of fake information. I think that my arguments were persuasive.
Many are convinced that to refuse to debate with you Alexei Navalny made a terrible call and shout from the Kremlin. Admit it, it was the case or not?
We began our conversation with a discussion of the themes of my maximum openness in communication with journalists, society, bloggers.
for me It is a natural course of events — to maximise the opportunities for dialogue to resolve existing issues. Unfortunately, the conditions that I was exposed from the opposite side, made this a natural course of events is absolutely impossible.
as a mandatory element of the discussion was the designated moderator, it was a limited time — two minutes to answer and thirty seconds per question. And finally, the most unacceptable for me is the limitation of discussion to only one topic. These pre-conditions made it impossible for free and fair discussion.
Tips before the discussion was enough. Some journalists are asked to cover an important with their point of view, theme. Someone, on the contrary, believed that once admitted to my address personal insults of the conversation can not be.
there were those who offered to go instead of me and a real man to stand up for the woman in a verbal duel. My position has been clear: I’m for straight talk, no matter what. But when I realized that everything turns into fraud, I publicly stated this.
You know, I brief every week. They last from two to four hours. And that briefings are not in front of the camera, and in front of 40-50 journalists. We do not share media representatives journalists “pool” and those who refused. No, any journalist who has journalistic accreditation has the right and opportunity to attend the briefing. And I never said I don’t have time to answer questions, complete. The briefing is injected only when the end of the questions. I’m always for honest and open conversation.