‘What you say may cause deep damage that will last longer than a government’s mandate or a financial year.’
Politicians have consultants, speechwriters and other professionals to advise on policymaking, but it’s definitely not the job of a political cartoonist, which I have been since 1999. There are hundreds of Russian and Soviet scholars in the United States who have read Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov from cover to cover and could be consulted on this matter.
I’ve been in this industry for 17 years – you get hooked. I dreamed of visualising political science. Now, it is second nature to me through my work.
Speaking from my experience, I have many friends who decide not to work as political satirists nowadays as many news outlets have grown increasingly hesitant to criticise – or even laugh at – politicians, leading to fewer opportunities for us.
Last spring, I was debating with my friends. I had foreseen that Donald Trump would become the president. I believe in the theory of the historical pendulum – swinging back and forth. I thought it would be logical that after two terms of a Democratic president, it was time for a Republican.
I’m expecting normal and adequate policymaking, as it was during the reign of Ronald Reagan or the Bush eras [of George W and Bush Senior].
Different decisions were [taken by the White House] then, although the political vectors were also very different.
But here we are, with the hawks in charge. I think that the aggressive foreign policy that the US has been advocating in the Middle East and [former] Yugoslavia has created too many negative sentiments among Russians towards the US.
I think that it’s important for Vladimir Putin to foster an atmosphere in which he can re-establish positive relations with Western leaders without losing face, and perhaps Donald Trump is presenting this opportunity.
I think that the president should have good instincts when choosing his people, to create a team of professionals who will do their job accurately. He should be careful when choosing his advisers.
Donald Trump has to get rid of the populist rhetoric and the sort of bluster that some say won him the presidential campaign and become more pragmatic. Such rhetoric can only harm him once he is in office.
I believe that everything overall will be fine. There’s no difference between the average American and Russian; reasonable people are the same everywhere.
I believe that appropriate behaviour will inevitably bring about mutual benefits.
*As told to Nikolay Korzhov