Q & A

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TIME: What's motivating Putin?

Berezovsky: I don't doubt that he wants to live in a democratic country, see Russia strong, its people prosperous. But he's chosen a completely fallacious path. The result will be the complete opposite. Russia will continue its slow collapse, its people will have an even worse life, and their freedoms will be ab-solutely unprotected.

TIME: Does Putin understand what democracy means?

Berezovsky: He has a very clear concept of it. But he considers that it is also possible to achieve democracy by this means [authoritarianism]. I also used to say that we wanted democracy, but that we were in a period when it was impossible to attain it by democratic means. What is happening now shows that this is a mistake ... as soon as you deviate from democratic principles in the transition to democracy, you destroy democracy too.

TIME: What is to be done?

Berezovsky: One, convince the President that he is wrong. Tell the President and his entourage that what is happening is ruinous for Russia. Do it openly. Two, create a normal, constructive opposition. And the powers that be have already created all the conditions for this. They have pressured the e lites and society in general to such a degree that even people who used to be at daggers drawn have found a common cause. Putin has essentially united the e lite around the idea not of helping him, but of opposing him, unfortunately.