13 July 2006

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna with the journal VIP-Premier

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna with the journal VIP-Premier

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna with the journal VIP-Premier, 16 April 2000

Your Imperial Highness, what do You think of the current situation in Russia?

I see the process of the rebirth and strengthening of the Russian state as one that is evolving. With the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin, a historic stage has been relegated to the past, a stage that will always be associated with his name. This was a period of contradictions and difficulties, and, even, agony, which started with great hopes but in its last years was noted only for its disappointments. Nevertheless, I think that the main thing accomplished was that Russia finally and definitely rejected communism. Both society and government thoroughly understood that neither a return to communist methods nor attempts to disseminate artificially western models of political structure and economics could improve the situation, only aggravate it. Russia has its own rich traditions, on which it should rely before anything else. We have several times already razed everything to the ground, before even making it clear what would be built in its place. In all these things, the actual needs and aspirations of the people were not at all taken into account. The rebirth of the political and economic might of Russia will begin only when the people precisely define their own goals and objectives and firmly make known their will, and when the governmental authorities honestly work to fulfill that will. I hope that the trust that was given by My countrymen in the election to Vladimir Putin will be borne out in the future. I genuinely hope that the new president will be able to fulfill the pledges he made during his campaign.

Which problems do You think it is most important for Russia to solve first?

In My last address to My countrymen, I had already said that the most important thing at the present stage of things is the guaranteeing of the territoriality of Russia; the defense of the rights of Russian nationals who now live outside the boundaries of Russia after the fall of the USSR; the strengthening of Russia’s position internationally; the improvement in social conditions for all the Russian people; the healing of the divisions in society; the rebirth of industry, and first and foremost in this regard, the creation of new technologies through incentives; the strengthening of private property and the extension of it to land ownership; and the lowering of tax burdens. I am glad that these same goals have been set by the state authorities in the Motherland and that the government is striving to settle these issues in turn. 

What advantages do You see that monarchy has over democracy?

Any perceived contraction between monarchy and democracy is completely inappropriate. In the modern world, monarchy is capable of creating the conditions for the proper development of democratic institutions, guaranteeing the presence both of a strong government and of the rights and freedoms of all citizens. In republics, democracy often is subordinated to parties and to oligarchical factions. The position of a monarch, which is independent by its nature from any parties or local interests, is capable of effectively bringing to life national aspirations and of playing the role of an arbiter for the peaceful and just resolution of political and social conflicts that arise from time to time.

If one day it happened that You were offered power in Russia, what would You do?

I would categorically reject any offers that would be made to Me behind the backs of My countrymen. The will of the people as concerns the structure of the state should be expressed in a referendum, and I will accept an official role only if that were the wish of the Russian people.

If, however, someday it should come to pass that a national referendum should be held and You should be called to rule, what kind of monarchy would you prefer there be in Russia, an absolutist one or a constitutional one?

There never has been an absolutist monarchy in Russia. The power of the Emperor always had many constitutional and religious limitations on it. Of course, the monarchy in pre-revolutionary Russia had shortcomings, which certainly were among the reasons for the revolution. In reviving the monarchical system, one should consider the mistakes of the past. A restoration would be a complex and evolving process and it would be difficult to foresee all the difficulties that would be associated with it. But one thing can be said for certain: if the Russian people want to reestablish the monarchy, it will have to have a firm constitutional foundation and guarantee the rigorous observance of the rule of law.

What would be Your main goal as Empress?

The most important thing for Me has been, is now, and always will be to serve always the interests of the Russian people. If fate has it that I ascend the throne, I would do everything to prevent power from being isolated from the people. I would strain every effort to create a real working mechanism for the expression of the genuine will of the people. All of the most important questions of the government and of social life should be made part of a national dialogue. Only in this way will a kind of monarchy be realized that is independent and above the ranking of parties and classes.

In what way, namely, do You see the Imperial House being useful to Russia at the present time?

Regardless of what the future fate of the monarchy may be, the Russian Imperial House is an institution that represents a living connection to the centuries-long history of Russia. Besides this symbolic role, the Imperial House has and can continue to have many spheres in which it can be concretely active. These include charitable programs, the use of the Imperial House’s prestige in the interests of Russia, and its patronage of cultural programs. From the conversations and correspondence I have had with My countrymen, I have become convinced that even those who are not advocates of a monarchy see the Imperial House as an important constituent force in the social life of the country. Our participation in that life is constantly evolving and takes on new forms. In all our activities, I proceed from the desires of the Russian people, never trying to thrust something onto them, but striving to utilize all my powers to merit their trust and hope.

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