Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden in Geneva: constructive, but without illusions

<1> <2> For us, as well as for all journalists accredited at the summit, the hot season began on Monday: at 14 o'clock in the Geneva International Conference Center a press center opened, in front of which there was immediately a queue for "badges" … She seemed long because of the one and a half meter distance between each person, but she walked quickly. Everything was organized in a Swiss way – clearly and pragmatically. Vaccinated reporters – please go to the left in need of a coronavirus test – to the right, and please, take the test, right there. <3> <4><5> We ended up in the left column, and the entire accreditation procedure took a few minutes. Together with the badge, we received a modest cardboard daddy with the summit logo and filling clearly designed for foreign guests: tourist information about Geneva, a flash drive with beautiful views, a simple pencil, a ballpoint pen … information about what electrical outlets are in Switzerland, and a warning that adapters are not issued in the press center, but … are sold. By the way, free coffee was also not offered, but the buffet worked, mediocre. In a Protestant way, in a word, in the best traditions of our city. <6><7> Tuesday also passed "under the sign of the summit" – reading various materials, comparing the information received, writing notes. Suddenly, an invitation to go live on the TV-channel of the Council of Federation "VMESTE-RF" came – but they didn’t expect it. Our Moscow colleagues have drawn up the questions clearly based on our publications, and therefore the answers are already known to you, but who is interested can see the recording. <8><9> <10><11> The main thing, of course, happened yesterday. Fearing traffic jams and cordons, we left for the press center early and did not even know whether to rejoice at the serene peace that reigned in Geneva or complain about it – after all, we could sleep for another hour. On the way, we listened to the radio interview of Micheline Calmy-Re, the former Federal Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. This lady, whom the Swiss called Cruella, 87% of Russians would like to see their president (albeit in 2007), has been to Russia more than once, received Dmitry Medvedev in Switzerland and talked with Vladimir Putin, in particular, about the recognition of Kosovo – how you remember, Switzerland recognized this country as one of the first, but Russia has not recognized it until now. In 2008, in an interview with Nasha Gazeta, Ms. Calmy-Re – who became the first politician with whom we interviewed – said that Switzerland is full of friendly feelings towards Russia. Yesterday, on the air of RTS, she described President Putin as a sophisticated negotiator who knows how to win over social security.B5dnik and, so to speak, "neutralize". Let's see how these methods work on President Biden, also not in politics … newbie, sorry for the unintentional pun! Guy Parmelin, who passed, according to the latter, "in a warm, friendly atmosphere." The arrival of President Putin was expected, according to informed sources, "by the end of the morning" on Wednesday – there is such a streamlined temporary concept in French "à la fin de la matinée". At 10 o'clock it became known that two presidential planes had taken off from Sochi and would arrive at the Geneva airport Cointrin by 12.30, that is, not at the “end of the morning”, but in the afternoon. It also turned out that Vladimir Vladimirovich would head straight from the road to Villa La Grange, where President Parmelin would be waiting for him – we managed to capture a rare shot with a specially trained person vacuuming the carpet in front of the villa. <15> <16><17> But it is not only the red carpet that greets the Russian president. We have already mentioned the graffiti with a portrait of Alexei Navalny, which appeared on the wall of a house in Geneva on the night of June 14 and is still decorating it. On the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, three homemade posters with questions to President Putin in English and French, questions that would hardly have been raised at a press conference, appeared directly opposite, attached to street billboards. (By the way, only the journalists from the Kremlin pool who had flown in with him were admitted "live" to his solo press conference, scheduled for 6 pm. Is that where the logic is? They can see him both in Moscow and in Sochi, why for this fly to Geneva ?!). The poster was clearly inspired by Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The texts on them were as follows: <18> <19> ALEXEY NAVALNY POISONED WITH NOVICHOK <20> AND STILL NO INVESTIGATION? <21> HOW COME, PRESIDENT PUTIN? <22> <23> ALEXEY NAVALNY EMPOISONNÉ AU NOVITCHOK <24> ET TOUJOURS PAS D'ENQUÊTE? <25> POURQUOI, PRÉSIDENT POUTINE? <26><27> Similar banners also briefly appeared on the Pont de la Coulouvreniere, next to the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where the Russian delegation stayed during the summit. <28> <29> <30> <31> … At noon, on the huge screen of the press center they continued soundless shots change each other: the deserted La Grange park, the impassive fountain decorated with Russian and American flags and the completely empty Mont Blanc bridge (traffic on it was stopped), onlookers in front of the barrage at the Four Seasons hotel, bustle at the airport waiting "from minute to minute "Landing of the Russian aircraft number 1 – our Ilyushin, according to the Swiss commentator, is in no way inferior to the plane" Potus ", that is, President Biden. <32> <33> <34> <35> At 12.10, the RTS TV channel, which has, instead of with Eurovision, the host's right to cover the event, began a live broadcast. I just wanted to say "we are waiting, sir." <36> <37> <38><39> We saw Guy Parmelin, who arrived at La Grange Park in an ordinary black, even seemingly unarmored Mercedes, several cars with diplomatic numbers slowly drove through the park, learned that the Russian and Swiss presidents would meet after Putin parted with Biden, and the airport runway was still empty … And here's the message: President Putin's plane is already in Versoix, literally a stone's throw. Here he flies against the background of the mountains, closer, closer, landed, turned his nose towards us, stood up. All attention is paid to the salon door … It opens from the inside … "Excitement, anticipation, impatience" are available, but for the film adaptation of Glinka's "Passing Song" there is not enough fun and jubilant people. President Parmelen does not meet his colleague, unlike Biden the day before. What is this strange protocol? Before we had time to ask such a question, we received an answer from a knowledgeable person: this is what President Putin himself wanted. This answer was prompted by a theatrical whisper and heard% B0or it's not just us. A familiar Swiss journalist immediately approached: "Why do you think Putin wanted to?" Without hesitation, she reacted: “Biden expects stability and predictability from this meeting. Here is his answer – Putin is unpredictable! ”<40> <41> But let's return … Easily running down the side steps, Vladimir Vladimirovich waved his hand in greeting, and, as if along the notorious St. Petersburg, rushed through deserted Geneva to meet with Joe Biden. <42><43><44> <45> Fortunately, our city is small, traffic lights only wink in a friendly manner, so a few minutes, and now a domestic limousine (remember how they were called in Soviet times?) At the portico of Villa La Grange … Having given VVP to talk with Guy Parmelin, the American president rode the same road, whose motorcade, we must admit, was larger. But the point is, of course, in quality, not in quantity. <46><47> Guy Parmelin's moment of glory: positioning himself between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, he welcomes them to “Geneva, the city of the world”, wishes them “fruitful work for the benefit of two countries and the whole world” and leaves them alone (apart from translators) … Look at the faces of the presidents – you cannot call them happy. But the picture is still beautiful, and for the prestige of Switzerland, the image of its president between the two "strongest in the world today" against the background of an elegant, but without gilding, villa is not the best advertisement for a country proud of its "good services" and famous for the modest charm of the bourgeoisie? <48 > <49> <50> <51><52> The press service of the Swiss Foreign Ministry planned that the conversation between the two presidents would last five hours, and without lunch – the chief of the protocol said that only light snacks, coffee, tea and soft drinks would be offered to the heads of state. (By the way, the journalists were not offered this either.) But already at 5:28 pm it became known that the conversation between the presidents had ended, that is, it was shorter than expected. Why? Nothing to talk about? Or did the dialogue fail? <53><54> Everyone was at a loss as they watched President Biden's car drive towards the entrance to Villa La Grange, waiting for him to exit. But the first, at 17.46, was V.V.Putin and went straight to the tent, where his press conference was scheduled. Without a single word of introduction, without a single comment, he suggested asking him questions. We will not retell it, everything is in the record, and everything was just quite predictable here. Let us dwell on, in our opinion, the main thing. When, after the correspondents of RIA Novosti and TASS, the microphone went to the CNN journalist, he asked the Russian president to describe the meeting as a whole. And we were happy to hear that "there was no hostility", that despite the fact that "we disagree on many points, on both sides" a willingness to establish a dialogue was demonstrated, and therefore "the conversation was very constructive." At the same time, the presidents decided to postpone inviting each other to visit. Answering the second question of American call%D0 gi, specifically about Navalny, President Putin answered him only after being reminded (apparently, he let the translation down), avoiding even mentioning the name of "this citizen", with all the appropriate argumentation. V.V.Puti said that the speech on human rights in Russia was raised – at the initiative of Biden, and added that "once again I was convinced that President Biden is a very experienced person," and that not all politicians have something to talk about eye to eye for more than two hours. The Russian leader was moved by what Joe Biden spoke to him about his mother, which, in his opinion, "testifies to his moral values."<56> The issue of exchange of prisoners was also discussed – according to President Putin, “compromises can be found here”. Let's wait for specifics. But we consider the final statement of V. V. Putin to be categorical: "there are no illusions, and there cannot be." Concluding yesterday at the RTS studio (https://www.rts.ch/play/tv/emission/19h30?id=6454706), we commented, in particular, on this particular phrase. Indeed, illusions are not obligatory for the head of state, especially since they tend to break. But he needs a vision of the world! Alas, the “picture of the world” drawn by both one president and another is not very inspiring. <57> <58><59> … What to say in conclusion? A few days before the summit, answering the questions of the journalist of the English edition of the Swiss news service Swissinfo, we, without trying to penetrate the thoughts of President Putin, assumed that Russia should or would like to "get" from this meeting – from the point of view of an ordinary person. They called the lifting of sanctions (it’s not harmful to dream), the recognition of Sputnik, the activation of cultural projects … On this last topic, we even had a prepared question concerning all three countries, but it didn’t come to that. The main thing is that the meeting has taken place, the dialogue has begun, we will wait for its continuation. <60>