Boris Berezovsky quotes US crackpot theorists

Boris Berezovsky quotes US crackpot theorists


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2022

The Russian pianist’s Paris agent, Marina Bower, has forwarded us this letter in English which appears to come from him. It needs to be read in the context of his previous self-exculpation, sent by his agent in French to Alain Lompech.

Berezovsky had previously gone on Russian television, Channel 1, urging the military to shut down electric power to Kyiv.

Here’s what he now writes:

Dear Norman,

I wanted to write to you long ago about your book “The Maestro Myth” which I absolutely loved, but now I have to write about a much more serious subject – politics.

Let’s go to the point. I have formed my opinion about this particular war from lectures of a distinguished professor in politics John Mershmeir “Why Ukraine is the West fault” , 2014 and most recently, a video conference ( both attached). Please note that comments of American people are 80% in favor of the point of view of this professor. If you do not have time to listen to this serious and insightful account, then listen to Kim Iveresen (attached) much shorter, somewhat emotional rhetoric, without , alas, development of her idea. But also note that 99% of American people’s comments are in her favor. No surprise that I also agree with them. Don’t I have a right to do so? It does not mean that I support the war or any war. It means that I believe that the West is partly responsible in the current situation.

2. Electricity!!! It was a live show and what I was about to say to the general next to me was – “I am a pianist and don’t understand anything about tactics, but I am a HUMANIST and my question is if we switch electricity and water…” then I was interrupted by the general and the time of the show was up. What I meant was that if we switch electricity and water , then in a few days they will give up and NOBODY WILL DIE. Nor Ukranian or Russian soldiers, nor civilians.

“When the guns are booming, the muses remain silent.” I should have followed this wise adage. My hope and dream is that this war will end as soon as possible and that the muses will be heard again.


The attachments mentioned in the letter have not come through, but the sources are familiar.

John Mearsheimer (sic) is a University of Chicago theorist whose decidedly minority view on Ukraine has been used by some Russian media to justify Putin’s invasion. Kim Iversen is a ‘free-speech’ podcaster whose Youtube channel has been suspended for peddling false Covid information. These are Berezovsky’s bibles. The Maestro Myth, published in 1991, is probably not a contributory factor.

We are happy to clarify these points.



  • Evan Tucker says:

    Sadly, Mearsheimer is not a fringe thinker. He’s a legend in the field of international relations. Like many such legends, he is completely wrong in everything he believes, but part of what makes Mearsheimer so dangerous on a number of fronts is the enormous amount of credibility he carries.

    • soavemusica says:

      “Like many such legends, he is completely wrong in everything he believes.” Not very scholarly…

      Mearsheimer was wrong in assuming Putin would not invade the whole of Ukraine.

      It now remains to be seen, if Mearsheimer was right in assuming that trying to invade & rule Ukraine is self-destructive for Russia.

      If Mearsheimer’s opponents are not “dangerous”, why could their views not prevent war in Ukraine?

    • Karl says:

      You don’t think John Mershmeir has a point? When the Russians began putting missiles in Cuba President Kennedy decided to enact a naval blockade around Cuba and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize the perceived threat to national security. Putin surrounded Ukraine with troops but they didn’t back off their desire to join NATO, so he invaded just like Kennedy would have if the missiles had not been removed.

      Diplomacy is very complicated. Trump was actually doing the right thing by trying to chum up with Putin. You have a lot more influence with someone if you act friendly than if you condemn him as a killer like Biden did. Look at what we do with Taiwan and China. The US recognizes the one China policy in order to avoid antagonizing China.

      • John Kelly says:

        Neville Chamberlain tried that approach with one A. Hitler. Didn’t go so well. Trump’s buddying up/rear-end kissing to Putin and joint press conference was the most disgraceful display by any President of the US in living memory.

  • alexis piantedoux says:

    the mentioned video I think is this one: it was filmed on 2015, this might help to understand, not to justify

    • onionopinion says:

      There is nothing crackpot about this very in-depth lecture in fact. What is crackpot is this pianist trying to justify his abhorrent behavior with it.

    • soavemusica says:

      Mearsheimer has also argued Ukraine should not have given up nuclear weapons, and that the US should not have made China rich.

      There is plenty of justification for his theories, which are not the same as Russian excuses for war, or Chinese, or… Not that the media were interested in any, or distinctions.

      To those interested, a recent presentation:
      “Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine”

      The US government & social media wear the yellow-blue ribbon and feel good about themselves.

  • STOP THE WAR says:

    No more visas or passports for Russian compromised musicians.

    Send them all back to Russia with love…or better still get them out in their beautiful suits and ties clearing up Kharkiv ruins with shovels and laying concrete with those baton clenching and violinistic or pianistic fingers to pay for their decades of taking the cash and living the luxury life style in Paris and other capitals of Europe.

    Are you listening Vladimir and Denis?
    Get Netrebko and you 2, into Kiev laying bricks to repair the Russifacists missiles and the theatres of Kharhiv and Mariopol filled with innocent blood.

  • Daniel Raiskin says:

    What a hypocritical, senseless and ridiculous justification of B. Berezovsky‘s position! The word is out and you can say whatever you please – everyone knows now, if they did not before, that both Berezovsky and you are on the same page! What gives you any right to suggest that a proud capital of the 44 million nation should be cut off the electricity and water and that they should give up? To whom? Why? Which part of this devious plan makes Berezovsky a Humanist? This is as fascist as it gets. Long forgotten are “special operation”, “denazification”, “demilitarization”… These were false pretenses from the very beginning. There is nothing in these statements that has anything to do with the “freedom of speech” – he was free to speak and he did so and now you spoke too!
    Be ashamed of yourself and of the moral decay you are trying to justify. And yes, “the West” is as responsible for the tremendous tragedy that is occurring in Ukraine right now. But, unlike you, most of us, by the way I am Russian, are openly taking responsibility for our actions or inactions, trying to right the wrong and at least talk about it openly and unequivocally!

    • soavemusica says:

      Small, independent countries should not expect much humanism from superpowers.

      Finland and Sweden really made it, until now, whereas many countries in the East did not.

      Finland bravely fought two wars against the Soviets with good humour, listened to patriotic Sibelius, publicly sang Christian hymns, then won peace, and lost (only) Eastern part of the country.

      Sweden gave moral support, and ate cinnamon buns in the background.

      Ukraine & Georgia made a mistake of trusting the US, UK, EU, NATO, and challenged Russia. When are the superpowers not considering their own interests?

    • Julian. Milkis says:

      I agree with you 100%

  • The View from America says:

    Shutting the barn door after the cows have already left?

    This is pathetic — and a complete non-starter in PR damage control that will have only one result: utter failure.

    • soavemusica says:

      One may try to arrive from academic theory to Russian justification of war, but Mearsheimer – as an American liberal – probably does not join the ride.

      And the US may try to forget their endeavours in Europe. They deny selecting the Government for Ukraine, they just said “F*** the EU”. Russians spies heard that, and leaked the tape. They would.

      “Leaked audio reveals embarrassing U.S. exchange on Ukraine, EU”

  • PS says:

    Peace talks are finally making progress, and most of the world is quickly moving closer to Russia, including China and India, but also Mexico, Cuba, Saudi Arabia… even Germany. Watch what Germany does rather than what it says. Zelensky is trying his best to start World War III which will be nuclear. If you want to side with him and his actual Nazi batallions because there is corruption in Russia, fine, go ahead, but there is plenty of corruption in Ukraine, too. It is true that this conflict has been carrying on for years, not weeks, and it will end soon one way or another. This website is independent media. The BBC is not. CNN is not. And if we wake up to that, maybe we won’t blow ourselves up.

  • John Kelly says:

    There’s only one reason there’s a war in Ukraine, that reason is that Putin decided to start one (back a few years). Mearsheimer has a point but fails to comprehend that NATO is a “program of attraction” welcoming those who want to join. Putin’s program is one of repulsion and we can now clearly see why everyone wanted to join NATO. For those interested in a 5 minute read they will find “Putin’s Textbook” here:

    Based on what Putin said yesterday about “cleansing” Russia of pro-Western traitors, I think the Russians should expect a neo-Stalinist purge beginning any day now……………

    • soavemusica says:

      “NATO is a “program of attraction” welcoming those who want to join” – indeed, but Ukraine & Georgia were never accepted.

      After Russia was willing to have a war, NATO was gone.

      Now, would the applications of Sweden and Finland to join NATO be accepted – on time? Putin is not willing to go nuke?

      It may that there is an “Italian strike”, pardon the expression, in the Russian army: everything is done, nothing accomplished.

      • John Kelly says:

        Putin can bring it on. Ever seen video of Berlin in 1945? That’s what the Russian economy looks like now, only the Russians don’t know it yet. Yet……..

  • V.Lind says:

    Berezovsky gave it up in one phrase when he said his “peaceful” plan would have the Ukrainians give up.

    In other words, whatever Putin wants? Ke-rikey.

  • christopher storey says:

    Berezovsky is a waste of space. Please, NL, stop giving him free publicity

  • John Borstlap says:

    All this is painful and hilarious….

  • Former U of C Maroon says:

    I am a former student of John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago. You can certainly disagree with his ideas, and he would welcome your disagreement, since he thrives on debate and being challenged. You cannot, however, dismiss him as a “crackpot theorist.” He is a brilliant scholar, and a serious academic. (And despite his reputation as a curmudgeon, he’s quite friendly in person.) Dismissing him as a fringe thinker is simply a way to avoid engaging with his ideas, which are formidable, though not irrefutable.

  • Markus Pawlik says:

    Sadly, I don’t speak Russian but it doesn’t look to me like B.B. couldn’t finish his statements.

  • soavemusica says:

    The headline “CRACKPOT THEORISTS” suggests that the theory of “Offensive Realism” was summarily dismissed as offensive.

    Who thinks the US foreign policy has been a success? In Ukraine, Georgia? Majority?

    Apparently, the theory oh Mr. Kasparov is not offensive: All-or-nothing, use more force. That could have worked – or not.

  • Ildi says:

    I live in EU, and when this war started, I read everything I could find in the internet about it. Mershmeir is not the only one who places certain responsibility on the US and NATO expansion.

    I also read in Al Jazeera pages that “America is about to fight Russia until the last Ukrainian soldier”. Absolutely disgusting statement! But if Berezovsky, Netrebko and others indeed believe that Russia is defending itself in this awful war, then I agree that we – EU countries – share responsibility for the tremendous tragedy that is occurring in Ukraine right now.

    • John Kelly says:

      Putin is the only one “responsible” for the death and destruction. Your argument reminds me of a court case where the defense argues that the defendant shot the man because he was provoked. Guess what – defendant is still guilty.

  • West says:

    Putin dreams of restoring an empire that never existed.

  • Paul Carlile says:

    Bore-is Bear-is off his key……

  • Stop Asian Hate says:

    The Covid “misinformation” that Kim Iversen was suspended for on YouTube at the time, is now widely accepted as fact. Thanks for proving you have not listened to her views before calling her a crackpot. I’m offended by your racism and sexist views. You should keep your white privilege in check.

    Thank you for pointing out that if it is not a liberal view, it is clearly wrong.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    It’s fascinating to watch the gung-ho Americans- including the current President- who overwhelmingly supported the very similar Iraq/Afghanistan “wars” (read ongoing occupations) get all hot and bothered when Putin does the same thing using many of the same reasons…two sides of the same coin.

  • Hmmb says:

    “I am a pianist and don’t understand anything about tactics” – silly excuse. Why was he there (in the programme) to start with? If we switch electricity and water, then in a few days Putin’s soldiers will keep attacking anyway. I have a better idea – these guys should be allowed to perform even in the West but their wage should go to Ukraine. (Although I wouldn’t go to this pianist’s recital anyway.)

  • Andres Carciente says:

    This is really awful! Nursing women without water cannot give milk to their babies. Lack of water brings disease and infections,specially children and old people. Is this a humanist way of thinking???