Viacheslav Volodin. Photo: Yulia Zyryanova / POOL / TASS
When the average Moscow journalist finds out that it is necessary to cover some foreign visit of our deputies, then this journalist … is sad.
Because such work trips, led by Chairman of the State Duma Viacheslav Volodin – super-dense schedule (I saw it myself – I know). Landing in a different time zone. “Checking hours” with the local leadership. Meetings of working groups. Lunch is on the run. Brief press approach. And… that’s it, return to Moscow in less than 24 hours. The deed is done. It’s you, if you want, at the sights of yourself. And the Chairman will work.
Therefore, for a hedonistic journalist, there are neither extra business trips (which are counted by the number of days), nor a “cultural program”. And for a journalist-patriot – delight. I’ve seen everything in the press corps over the years. Spring 2016, I cover the visit of a delegation of some regional officials and Iran. We are loading for the return flight. And the assistants of these same officials in front of my eyes check in the Persian carpet bought by their boss for $ 10 thousand (from labor income, of course).
And I remember something else. The second half of the 2010s, the new State Duma – already with its Chairman Volodin. I am interviewing a deputy in his office on Okhotny Ryad. When suddenly a TV screen starts blinking on the wall: “Plenary session in 20 minutes … 15 minutes …” – and the people’s choice immediately gathers: we finish, I have to go. In the former Duma, there were no such warning systems; truant deputies became the talk of the town.
But the state is, first of all, working institutions (such as the State Duma). And any institution is, first of all, a discipline. Which the Chairman brought up … I want to say “with an iron hand”, but here, rather, an iron hand in a soft glove. Often we, journalists, asked Volodin: what do you think about the action of such and such a deputy … The conversation is not on the record, you can say anything (including about ideological opponents from among the “hunter-athletes”) – but the speaker always answered: “On my part, such comments would be unethical.”
And now the other day Volodin again showed that he can not only speak harshly, but also listen carefully. I wrote a post on my Telegram channel about QR codes that can be introduced everywhere to fight the coronavirus. The post is good, balanced: what you need not to cut off the shoulder, but comprehensively discuss an ambiguous idea. And what should you start with yourself, from the building on Okhotny: fellow officials want to enter QR codes – well, here you are and show them at the State Duma entrance, where you come to interdepartmental working groups.
This post Vyacheslav Viktorovich became one of the most popular in the history of Russian telegram: at this hour – more than 700 thousand views and half a million comments. Because – yes, Volodin was not afraid to “open the comments” under the post for everyone and collect feedback personally, without bureaucratic obstacles.
The comments, of course, were very different. And then suddenly, in one large Telegram channel (I don’t give a link – a lot of honor), “news” appears: “A source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs promised to initiate proceedings against some of these commentators.”
What source, where, in what department? As they say on the Web, it is a “scary fake”: in anonymous telegram channels, anyone can write anything, and people believe. Why such stuffing is done is understandable: to undermine trust between the people and their chosen ones (excuse the pathos).
And the last memory. A politician, especially a popular one, cannot but have ambitions. But the speaker of the State Duma here differs from the “average bureaucratic” level for the better (because the “average official” we have seen enough is a combination of weakness and pride).
But with the usual straightforwardness Volodin says in an interview to us journalists:
– Hardly anyone can be a more effective president than Putin … We all need to do everything so that he remains our president as long as possible.
So there is no doubt: if QR codes are introduced, then only after careful discussion at all levels, so as not to harm, and so that everyone’s voice is heard.