Guests on Russia-1, the leading state TV channel, made a rare admission that Western sanctions are taking a toll on the country. Semyon Bagdasarov, a State Duma member, told Russia-1 host Vladimir Solovyov, who has a direct line to Vladimir Putin, that riots could break out across the country “tomorrow”. This comes ahead of President Putin’s much-anticipated speech marking Russia’s Victory Day tomorrow.
Mr Bagdasarov told Russian state TV viewers: “For us, it’s very important how our population will live.
“People want to come to the store and see the assortment of goods they are used to.”
Mr Solovyov added: “With prices they can afford.”
The Russian lawmaker responded: “If so, the West will lose their main trump card.”
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He continued: “They’re hoping for a repeat of October 1917, or August 1991 when nothing is available and everything is overpriced.
“Then, the same people who loved the Tsar one day earlier would moan.
“Our shelves should be filled with all the necessities so tomorrow there won’t be riots.”
He then claimed that Russia needs a figure like Lavrentiy Beria, who led Joseph Stalin’s secret police squads and imposed an iron grip on the country.
Mr Bagdasarov said: “Again I’ll say, we need Lavrentiy Beria. That is the kind of a manager our country needs, an eminent personality.”
A fellow guest Mikhail Khazin, an economist, also praised Beria’s legacy, saying he was “a competent, humane and smart leader” – despite sending thousands to Russian Gulags.
He then bizarrely added: “He never punished anyone.”
Daily Beast columnist Julia Davis shared the extraordinary exchange, tweeting: “As average Russians are starting to feel the sting of Western sanctions, talking heads and government officials on state TV suggest that what Russia needs now to prevent potential riots is a figure like the notorious Lavrentiy Beria, who headed the NKVD during Stalin’s purges.”
This comes as Russians remain wary of what President Putin will announce tomorrow during the Victory Day parade.
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Some Russians fear that the Russian leader will use it to declare a transition from its “special military operation” in Ukraine into a fully-fledged war.
This could bring with it a broad mobilisation of troops to bolster Russia’s forces.
Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said Moscow was covertly preparing such a plan.
British defence secretary Ben Wallace told LBC that President Putin was “laying the ground for being able to say, Look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people.’”