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One Of The Kremlin's Favorite Writers Is Convinced North Korea Is Heaven On Earth

Russia and North Korea: BFF.

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Meet Alexander Prokhanov. He has been writing books and editing newspapers since the Soviet era, serving the Kremlin with passion and aplomb.

Prokhanov was at the margins of Russian intellectual life for years, but is enjoying a resurgence under the Kremlin's new patriotism drive over Ukraine. Some of his writings are about Lenin or Stalin coming back from the dead. Literally coming back from the dead to walk the earth.

"I didn't go to Europe," he begins, calling the continent "slick, outworn by satiation and its failure to understand modern problems, with its supermarkets, museums, its loafing tourist crowds on the streets."

Some amazing footage of Pyongyang airs as Prokhanov speaks his thoughts, although it's not clear quite when it's from. This scene appears to capture a street fight? Prokhanov takes no notice.

"So many clouds of lies, slander and incomprehension have condensed over North Korea," Prokhanov says. "The West, America, treat her like an outlaw country, like a small monster country..."

What he found amazed him: a "wonderfully planned city" with "a huge number of tall buildings, almost skyscrapers!," wide boulevards with trees and flowers, plazas "filled with air" and surrounded by palaces.

"You might think I fell into heaven on earth." But then — a twist! "No," Prokhanov says. "It's a very harsh, strict regime." He notes the limits on internet and a free press, says he had officials with him at all times, probably intelligence officers.

"This can shock you," Prokhanov says. "It can surprise you. It can cause protest. But," Prokhanov says, "don't rush with that." Because, you see, the North Korean regime does it all for a reason.

"The North Korean authorities are very pragmatic. They're very careful. They have created a regime of extremely strict custody."

And that's something Russia needs to understand. "Today, as Russia is living through pressure from the West, when sanctions are being strengthened, when business contacts are torn up — of course we look to the East."

"It’s very important for us to understand this country, understand its people, understand the psychology of the authorities, understand its mysterious philosophy."

What follows is a long description of the North Korean ideology of Juche, the important role of the dictator, and North Korea's militarism, what Prokhanov likens to a "religion of victory."

Just before leaving North Korea, Prokhanov says he met with Kim Jong-Un's 86-year-old right-hand man and asked: Why did you support us at a UN meeting discussing Russia's decision to annex Crimea?

Miriam Elder is the world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 5B5F EC17 C20B C11F 226D 3EBE 6205 F92F AC14 DCB1

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