Interview with editor in chief of ”European Russians” Anton Gromov about the Second Forum of Free Russia in Vilnius for RFI (Radio France Internationale).
Among the guests at the forum were Lithuanian journalists and correspondents of western media outlets, as well as independent Russian bloggers who are often quoted by Russian speaking newspapers in the west; who are not eager to demonstrate their loyalty to Kremlin's regime. Such outlets do not only exist, but are steadily gaining traction.
One of the guests attending Vilnius, coming down from Riga, was the editor in chief of “European Russians” Anton Gromov. In this Forum Mr. Gromov represents the Russian pro-western diaspora in Latvia, adding that he supports a close relationship with the citizens of the Russian Federation who have chosen to obtain education beyond its borders, and see the future of their country as integrated into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Mr. Gromov has also attended the previous Free Russia Forum in March, and has the following to say about this event:
”I believe that the main benefit of this forum is not to be found in the main stage, from the speakers or the announcements that are being made. The main achievement is that this allows for a free speech platform.
I believe the most important aspects of this event are the informal contacts, the conversations. By allowing such a platform, the people in emigration and the people that are interested to see Russia as an adequate partner and part of Europe, and of the West as a whole, can find common ground with the people who come to the Forum from the Russian Federation. Among these people – representatives of the western press and media outlets, governmental institutions of Latvia and Lithuania for instance, or the heads of various foundations from the United States of America.
This is highly important, as this allows establishing a dialogue; and as we look further, I believe that this will lead to cooperation between various organizations and journalists. I can foresee Partnerships focusing on anti-corruption to be formed. It will become possible to organize different events and demonstrations within various cities of Europe, North America and possibly even Latin America – essentially anywhere where we find Russian emigrants. This will lead to more influence for Russian lobbies and adequate representatives of Russian organizations".
In such way we can express to our western colleagues and partners that within the context of Putin's Russia, there can be no “Business as usual”. We are the people who can denounce the notion that if you want to participate in trade with Putin and his oligarchs, then you should be ready for more than one plane with European passengers to be taken down. This is highly important.”
From the earlier mentioned representatives of the Baltic States, that had visited the Forum, was the ex-chairman of the Saeima - Vitautas Landsbergis whose appearance was met with applause, as well as delegate of the Lithuanian parliament - Emanuelis Zingeris who gave a short speech.