There is nothing democratic that the USA can teach Zambia or Africa- Russian Ambassador, Azim Yarakhmedov
● USA record of human rights abuse and international crimes is appaling.
● No Free Media in USA and they can even ban persons like Donald Trump on social-media platform.
● It is a global leader in the imprisonment of its own people.
● Summit of Democracy by those with terrible track record
“Regarding the “Summit for Democracy” that was organized by Washington on 9-10 December 2021 and will be held again this year in Zambia, I can say that it is a very strange event. Its organizers claim the leading position in the promotion of democracy and human rights across the world. However, the “track record” and reputation of the USA, Great Britain and most of the EU countries, regarding democratic rights and freedoms at home and abroad, leave much to be desired, to say it mildly.”
“Facts and history of relations of these countries with others, especially with African countries and peoples, show us that they cannot act as “beacons” of democracy because they themselves have deeply ingrained problems with freedom of speech, electoral systems, corruption and human rights.”
“For example, it is known that the USA do not have independent media. Party and corporate elites de-facto determine the editorial policy of the largest western media.”
“Well-functioning mechanisms of censorship and content removal are in place to suppress dissent on the Internet, like how it was done with former president Donald Trump. Or let’s look at another example. The USA, which claim the role of the “global leader of democracy,” for many years in a row hold a leading position for population imprisoned (more than 2 million people) and conditions in prisons violate human dignity”.
“The prison in Guantanamo still functions and Washington continues to create secret prisons on foreign soil. Capital punishment is still being practiced in many states of the US. The list can go on and it applies to other so-called leaders of democracy such as France and Britain. The people of Africa have intimate knowledge of the role of these democratic countries in Rwandan genocide and in the killing of civilians in Iraq, Libya and Syria.”
The Interview of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Zambia, Azim Yarakhmedov to Zambian Media
Good day, Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for agreeing to meet us and answer our questions.
1. In February, it was exactly one year since you arrived to Zambia and took up your responsibilities as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation. What is your assessment of the current state of the Russian-Zambian relations and do you see a potential for their further development?
Thank you very much, indeed, in February it was exactly one year since I arrived to Lusaka and it is enough time to assess the state of our relations and to tell you about the Russian plans for their improvement. First of all, Russia recognizes Zambia as a friendly country and conducts its business with it accordingly. Although recently, to be honest, despite the history of our friendly relations, they require a certain new dynamic for their further development.
I would like to point out that our cooperation in humanitarian field continues to develop dynamically. Russia helps Zambia to prepare new skilled personnel for its economy. About thousand young Zambians are studying in Russia in different universities under the scholarship programme of the Russian Government.
This year, another 160 young students will join them. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries, Russia has trained around six thousand qualified specialists, who now participate in all areas of Zambian economy. Currently, our countries are actively discussing plans to expand our cooperation in the fields of media, culture, sports, youth and higher education.
The Russian side is prepared to intensify bilateral cooperation in other areas as well: trade and economy, finance, investments, energy, agriculture. As you remember, esteemed Mr. H.Hichilema, the President of Zambia, during the press conference on the results of his Government’s activities in 2022, pointed out some obstacles that it would face in 2023. He put an emphasis on energy, fuel, mineral fertilizers and logistics (especially the need to rehabilitate and upgrade the TAZAMA pipeline).
I think that some of the problems mentioned by the President could be solved within the framework of our cooperation. First and foremost, in regards to fuel deliveries – petrol, diesel, liquefied gas. Russia could export mineral fertilizers and grain to Zambia and conduct transactions in national currencies at mutually satisfactory prices. To be honest, I discussed that with the Minister of Energy in March and I hope that the Zambian Government will formulate its position on the topic soon.
We continue our cooperation in the fields of science and manufacture – I mean the construction of the Zambian Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Lusaka. Despite the fact that the process has slowed down to some degree recently, the sides have stated their willingness to continue the construction of the Centre and I see it as a positive sign. It needs to be stressed that the commissioning of the Nuclear Centre will create completely new opportunities for Zambia in the fields of medicine (treatment of oncological diseases) and agriculture. Our cooperation also continues in other areas, including sensitive ones.
2. Mr. Ambassador, I would like to ask about the following. We know from the news that the Second Russia-Africa Summit will be held in St Petersburg, Russia, in July. What is exactly this Summit and will a Zambian delegation participate in it?
Yes, you are correct. On 26-29 July 2023, the Second Russia-Africa Summit will take place in St Petersburg as well as Economic and Humanitarian Russia-Africa Forum. I want to emphasize that the decision to set apart the economic and humanitarian topics was made based on the wishes of our African partners and because Moscow intends to actively develop the whole spectrum of relations with African countries.
The main idea of the upcoming Summit is that Russia is ready to support the strengthening of the sovereignty of African states. These are not empty words.
As you know, the USSR had never had any colonies in Africa, on the contrary, it played a leading role in the process of decolonization of the African continent and was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with African states, including with Zambia in October 1964, the same month when it declared its independence.
Many facts point out that Russia continues to provide genuine support to African countries. For example, during the First Russia-Africa Summit, Moscow decided to write off completely $20 billion of debt, owed by African countries, based on the state of their economies. Or another example – this year, some African countries asked for Russia’s help in order to receive grain and mineral fertilizers. In the view of the situation in those countries, Russia delivered 20 thousand tonnes of mineral fertilizers to Malawi and 30 thousand tonnes to Zimbabwe free of charge. This work continues at the present time.
The political part of the Summit will be devoted to the review of Russian-African agenda in the context of our common interests in the creation of just world order, based on the principle of respect for international law, multipolarity, national interests and indivisibility of security with the central coordinating role of the UN. By the way, Russia is in favor of the African continent having a seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Other key topics will include development of trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation, food and energy security, transfer of technology, public health and education and preparation of labour force for African countries.
During the Summit, a Youth Day and a special programme for spouses of heads of states will take place.
About the participation of delegations from African countries, I can say that almost 90 per cent of them have already expressed their willingness to take part in the Summit. Regarding Zambia, I will say it like this – I, as the Ambassador of Russia, have conveyed via a diplomatic note the original invitation by President of Russia V.Putin to President of Zambia H.Hichilema.
I hope to receive a reply about the participation of a Zambian delegation in the Summit soon because we would like H.Hichilema, as a president of a friendly country, to visit the Summit together with his spouse as well as relevant ministers, representatives of Zambian business community and youth in order to establish mutually beneficial contacts that could facilitate bilateral trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation.
3. Mr. Ambassador, what can you tell about the work of the Zambian Government and the participation of the President in various international forums, especially in the Summit for Democracy, which took place in December 2021 and was organized by the US (the next stage of which will be held in March 2023 and Zambia will be one of the co-hosts).
Right from the start, I need to say that as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, accredited to Zambia, I am in no position to evaluate the work of esteemed President H.Hichilema.
However, I can express my opinion about the international events that happen in Zambia and in Africa, including the ones where he has already participated. I can say right away that the Zambian Government pursues rather active international trade and economic policy – I would probably even say that economic policy is the primary focus – and the goal of that policy is to solve the tasks that stand in front of the government. I noticed that most of those international events, including the ones where the President has participated, revolved around debt restructuring.
That topic has been already sufficiently covered in your newspaper. We think that this is the most important task for the Government because unregulated debts prevent the country from attracting new investments to develop its economy and in turn to improve the lives of Zambian citizens.
Regarding Zambian foreign economic activity, we would like to see Russia among its active partners as well. As we see it, Russia and Zambia have enough “points of contact” in order to increase mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral cooperation in every area, including, above all things, trade, economic and humanitarian fields.
For instance, the prices of fuel have been rising recently in Zambia, the lack of mineral fertilizers is noticeable, the Government has plans to develop energy production, oil and fuel pipelines, to build roads and railways. I am sure, as I have already told, that Russia can act as a reliable partner in such projects, as evident from the history of our bilateral relations.
We would also like the President of Zambia, esteemed H.Hichilema, to pay a visit to Russia, within the framework of which it would be possible to prepare a long-term mutually beneficial Programme of cooperation between our countries.
Regarding the “Summit for Democracy” that was organized by Washington on 9-10 December 2021 and will be held again this year in Zambia, I can say that it is a very strange event.
Its organizers claim the leading position in the promotion of democracy and human rights across the world. However, the “track record” and reputation of the USA, Great Britain and most of the EU countries, regarding democratic rights and freedoms at home and abroad, leave much to be desired, to say it mildly. Facts and history of relations of these countries with others, especially with African countries and peoples, show us that they cannot act as “beacons” of democracy because they themselves have deeply ingrained problems with freedom of speech, electoral systems, corruption and human rights.
For example, it is known that the USA do not have independent media. Party and corporate elites de-facto determine the editorial policy of the largest western media. Well-functioning mechanisms of censorship and content removal are in place to suppress dissent on the Internet, like how it was done with former president Donald Trump. Or let’s look at another example.
The USA, which claim the role of the “global leader of democracy,” for many years in a row hold a leading position for population imprisoned (more than 2 million people) and conditions in prisons violate human dignity.
The prison in Guantanamo still functions and Washington continues to create secret prisons on foreign soil. Capital punishment is still being practiced in many states of the US. The list can go on and it applies to other so-called leaders of democracy such as France and Britain.
The people of Africa have intimate knowledge of the role of these democratic countries in Rwandan genocide and in the killing of civilians in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Against this background, the democratic rhetoric of Washington and Western capitals seems out of touch with reality. One should get his own house in order before it starts to “export democracy.” As for Zambian participation in this forum, I think Zambia has the full right to call itself a democratic republic.
Zambia systematically strengthens democratic values in social conscience, the transfer of power after parliamentary and presidential elections is conducted democratically and courts hold an important role. Taking into account the existing opportunities, conditions have been created for respect for human rights and freedoms, Christian values are promoted and other religions are respected, country participates in the peacekeeping operations in Africa.
I also cannot ignore the fact that presidential decrees of H.Hichilema of December 2022 are the true acts of a democratic state. I mean the laws that abolished death penalty and criminal defamation of a head of state.
Honestly, although I do not like when someone divides countries and peoples into democratic and undemocratic, because only the UN – the international collective authority – has that right, I am glad that Lusaka will co-host that so-called Summit. I am sure that the USA and other western countries will have something to learn from Zambia about democracy.