Kasparov joined Russian politicians, analysts and intellectuals at the Vilnius Russia Forum which was organized in Lithuania for the third time on March 8-9.
“Putin is not allergic to blood and any form of external aggression is a matter of personal survival for him,” said opposition figure and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov in Vilnius. “The list of things Putin supposedly couldn’t do is endless, we have heard many times how he would not do this or that for fear of ruining his image – and he’s done all that. He’s done more than anyone could have imagined.
“There are some who are still trying to talk about long-term plans, possibilities to improve relations with Russia in five years. One must realize that if, god forbid, Putin is still in power in five years, the entire world will have a problem.”
The Baltic states have a role to play in alerting the Western world about possible dangers from Russia, said analyst Lilia Shevtsova of the Moscow Carnegie Centre.
“I don’t believe we should overstate the threat of Russian tanks on the Baltic coast – there are so many other methods like influencing Western elites, maybe even Baltic elites too, cyber attacks, information counter-propaganda,” Shevtsova said.
“Russia is deploying so many soft power weapons that we must take note. I think that Lithuania has a special role and responsibility to help NATO and European Union members understand what you yourselves know about Russia.”
Organizers of the forum said that democrats in the Russian opposition are in particular need of support as their positions are under attack. Increasingly many participants to the Vilnius Forum arrive not from Russia but other countries where they are forced to take shelter from the Kremlin’s persecution.
“They helped us a quarter of a century ago, when we were getting back on our feet and it wasn’t easy for us. Russian democrats were not passive observers then – they were fighters. Let’s remember that and return the favour with solidarity – it will make us all stronger,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said.