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The Wall Street Journal: Surkov: In His Own Words

December 18, 2006 6:25 p.m.

The following are excerpts from public statements, speeches and articles by Vladislav Surkov. Translated by The Wall Street Journal.

EXTRACT RELEVANT TO SHELL SAKHALIN II

Comments to a July 2006 conference in Moscow on the application of sovereign democracy to business

Surkov: I was deeply moved by the title of the report ‘The Economic Model of Sovereign Democracy’. In preparing for this forum and studying the works of the classic, I found the spiritual precursor of today’s discussion. Surprising as it may seem, it turned out to be Ernesto Che Guevara. In 1960 he delivered a speech, entitled, ‘Political sovereignty and economic independence.’ I think it has much in common with the topic of today’s discussions.

“There are republics which have all formal features of sovereign [states]. However, they depend entirely on the all-embracing will of Standard Oil or some other oil company or the tin kings or coffee traders. The internal political system of any country which, to this or that extent, allows, or doesn’t allow at all, to realize its sovereignty should be an issue for this and only this specific country. National sovereignty means, first of all, the right of a country to have the government and the way of life which suits it best of all and the right not to have anyone else interfere in its life. However, all these fragments of political sovereignty, national sovereignty are a fiction if they are not accompanied by economic independence. We must gain sovereignty and take it away from those who are called ‘monopolies.'”

I think a portrait Che Guevara could very well adorn this hall. But I’d like to remind you that although the ideas of this man and his comrades were quite correct, they committed fatal and irreparable mistakes. I wouldn’t like for our discussion of sovereignty to lead us to repeat the sad experience of the Cuban revolution. I wish that this forum will become an event where we could seriously discuss questions of sovereignty, issues of the economic model that would allow the people of Russia to be an independent subject of history, rather than some kind of Ijo tribe from Nigeria, for whom Shell determines how much money to give them for damage it has done to their land. I’d like to wish all of us openness and competitiveness. I believe that this is freedom, this is independence, this is sovereignty.

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