Judge for yourself: Maxim Shevchenko and the Caucasus
There are several popular political talk shows on Russian TV. One of them is Sudite Sami (Judge for Yourself) with Maxim Shevchenko, which airs on Thursday nights on the First Channel. Maxim Shevchenko, born in 1966, is a well-known Russian journalist and expert on religious movements. His show has become known for its polemical style and the participation of well-known political figures, writers, journalists, and scholars. Some recently discussed topics have included "The Tragedy of Tskhinval: The Guilty Are Named" (2 October 2009), which focused on the conclusions of the Tagliavini report on the August 2008 war in South Ossetia. The videos and transcripts of each episode can be found on the talk show's website (in Russian).
Shevchenko is also a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation's Committee for International Relations and Freedom of Conscience and head of the Center for Strategic Research on Religion and Politics in the Modern World.
From 1990 to 1992 he was a member of the political council of the Christian Democratic Union of Russia. He has been working in independent journalism since 1987 and is now one of the leading Russian journalists and a special correspondent in "hot spots" (in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Yugoslavia, Israel and Palestine). In 2000 Shevchenko founded the Strategic Research Center for Modern World Religion and Politics, an independent non-profit group which unites experts and analysts specializing in modern political, social and religious awareness issues.
As commentator for Channel One state television Shevchenko explained the killing of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya as "an attempt to provoke an Orange Revolution here." In an interview in Georgian Times, he warned about Western designs on Ukraine and the Caucasus:
Q: How would you describe the political turmoil in Ukraine?
A: I think this is a coup attempt by the 'orange coalition' against the government and Rada (which expresses the interests of the majority of the Ukrainian population). The thing is that the 'orangists' hate Russia, the Russian language and the Orthodox Church in Eastern Ukraine to such an extent that they are ready to run the risk of a civil war. They have very radical ambitions – to fully Ukrainize Ukraine.
Q: What external forces support them?
A: The West and Washington, certainly. The current crisis erupted in the wake of a visit by Timoshenko to Washington. She might have taken some pledge there: she promised that the 'orange' coalition would start shaping a common Ukraine out of a huge, diverse country. Besides this, she promised to distance Ukraine from Russia and Russian policy.
Q: Do you think US policy in Ukraine will be a failure?
A: Yes, absolutely.
Q: You said that the war between Iran and the US would have an indirect impact on Georgia as well. How is that? What threat should we expect?
A: You will be embroiled in the war, as you will be required to start a war with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Any forceful measures will again drive the Georgian people to disaster and Georgia will be on the verge of further fragmentation. Only a stupid person cannot understand this.
Q: So, what do you think Georgia should do?
A: I cannot dictate to Georgia what it should do. It cannot ensure the return of its IDPS to Abkhazia without the help of Russia. Georgia will never be able to solve the issue with the help of Washington or Brussels and will engage into a more bloody war.