Mon expérience personnelle de Vladimir Poutine

LONDRES – Le président russe Vladimir Poutine se contenterait-il, comme la plupart des dirigeants politiques, de déformer la vérité afin de servir les intérêts de son pays ? Ou peut-on aller jusqu’à considérer qu’il gouvernerait la Russie et interagirait avec ses voisins et le reste du monde selon une imprudente démarche mensongère, appuyée par des médias nationaux totalement soumis à sa cause ? Le plus souvent, il suffit de faire appel à ce que nous constatons et entendons pour répondre aux questions de ce type. Néanmoins, l’expérience personnelle peut parfois se révéler fort utile.

J’ai rencontré Poutine pour la première fois en octobre 1999, à Helsinki, alors que j’assistais, en tant que Commissaire aux affaires étrangères de l’UE, à un sommet réunissant l’Union européenne et la Russie. Le président Boris Eltsine avait annulé sa présence à la dernière minute, étant apparemment « indisposé. » Il avait envoyé à sa place le nouveau Premier ministre en poste, Vladimir Poutine, dont le comportement m’apparut comme l’illustration même de cet adage selon lequel s’il est possible d’extraire un homme du KGB, nul ne saurait espérer le libérer de l’influence du KGB.

Lors de la préparation de cette réunion au cours de la matinée, la délégation européenne eut connaissance de la survenance d’une explosion à Grozny, capitale de la Tchétchénie, à l’origine du décès de plusieurs personnes. Lorsque Poutine arriva, nous l’interrogeâmes sur cet incident. Il répondit qu’il n’en savait rien, promettant toutefois de déterminer ce qu’il s’était produit d’ici le déjeuner.

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