Putin's Way - Transcript | FRONTLINE
Transcript for the FRONTLINE film Putin's Way. abuse of his official position, involvement in relations with organized crime, knowledge about money .. NARRATOR: In , Putin moved Medvedev aside and took back the presidency in a. As he prepares to step down from the Russian presidency in early May, Vladimir Putin has been boasting about his accomplishments. BuzzFeed pointed out to the president that Obama had a good relationship with former president and current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
And all these people free? There were three attempts in the Russian Duma to investigate the events in Ryazan. Mikhail Trepashkin was asked to help with one of those Duma investigations. A week before he was due to report his findings, he was stopped by the police.
Why are you putting that in my car? Trepashkin was sent to prison for two years. He came out and again spoke about his investigation of the apartment bombings, and was arrested and jailed for another two years.
Well, the apartment buildings saved the Yeltsin system. They saved the corrupt division of property that took place after the fall of the Soviet Union.
They cost thousands of innocent lives, both Russian and Chechnyan, by starting a new war. His first act as president was to grant his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, immunity from prosecution.
Case numberthat corruption investigation in St. Petersburg, quietly went away. It was explained to us that criminal investigations are not pursued in relation to the president.
Russia's Dubious Duo: Can Medvedev Escape from Putin's Shadow? - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Investigator Zykov says he still wonders how things might have been different had he been allowed to continue with his case. People would respect civil law because everyone would understand that if the president can be prosecuted, then in essence, our officials would understand that the law has to be protected. As it now stands, Russia has no law. In the early years of his presidency, there was hope that Putin would live up to his billing and take Russia on a path closer to the West— democratic, liberal and capitalist.
Under Putin, they hoped for even more business and new legitimacy. On the left, the richest of all, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky was concerned about a new U.
At the same time, bycorruption was already the key method of state governance used by the bureaucrats, and bureaucrats started to demand the kind of money that was impossible to hide. One had to make a choice, build companies that are open and list them, or do business Russian style— in other words, pay bribes, receive privileges, but remain within a closed system.
We decided the question was worth discussing. Khodorkovsky asked if he could speak frankly and made the case that it was time for Russia to change its ways. That is 10 to 12 percent of GDP.
As I understand it, what you are essentially doing with the television cameras running was accusing the president of Russia of running a corrupt state.
Yes, I did accuse his inner circle and him of creating a model that uses corruption as its backbone, and he told me that we, too, took part in creating that model.
Putin reminded him that his oil company, Yukos, was facing tax problems. It has settled its tax problems. But how did those problems arise in the first place? It was a veiled threat. Of course I did. But I thought he would choose the European model. And I was not the only one thinking that because it was obviously more beneficial for the country.
Khodorkovsky was also perceived as a political threat. He had been funding opposition parties and spending money to promote democracy. The meeting in the Kremlin had sealed his fate. He was arrested, his oil company dismantled and divided among Putin loyalists. Today, he lives in exile in Switzerland and has no doubts about the system Putin put in place. A model like this does not exist, so he started to slide towards at first mild totalitarianism, and then an increasingly harsh totalitarianism.
If the situation develops further, he will reach a full totalitarian model. In reality, every authoritarian system is a kleptocracy. Some early evidence of that kleptocracy and how it worked was found inwhen police raided the offices of a small company called SPAG in a suburb of Frankfurt, Germany. Author and journalist Jurgen Roth has written extensively about the raid, which targeted money laundering in several countries allegedly by St.
In this report, they mentioned the SPAG as a company who has close links to criminal organizations, the so-called Tambovskaya mafia in St. And so they— it was money that was being— being laundered in Germany. Laundered in Germany through investments in real estate.
He only stepped aside when he became president. It was a political affair. They must inform at this time Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder get informed, or would like to be informed about this investigation.
Why he would like to be informed? It was so high level. To this day, Gerhard Schroeder and Vladimir Putin are close friends who celebrate birthdays together. What happened to the investigation in the end? It finished without any result. Schroeder has never publicly addressed the case, but their friendship provoked a scandal in Germany in Gerhard Schroeder epitomizes the scandal in Germany. In his early days in office, Putin went on a charm offensive towards the West.
He believed he was committed to the best interests of his country.
Putin was trained in the KGB to deceive foreigners. He has a very sharp eye for human weakness. But boy, does he do it. Early on, British prime minister Tony Blair was charmed by him.
Russia's Dubious Duo: Can Medvedev Escape from Putin's Shadow?
And as with Germany, their two economies would become even more entangled. It fueled massive corruption, and much of that money was flowing into London. The City of London, which has made a huge amount of money out of laundering Russian money over the years. The city is ultimately [unintelligible] of the British economy, and it runs on Russian money.
Valery Morozov is a Russian construction magnate who now lives in exile in London. His company has done projects for the Kremlin, most recently on the scandal-ridden Sochi Olympics. But finally, he says, the corruption under Putin had gone beyond what he could live with. Yeltsin was bought and supported by criminals.
So he changed immediately the whole system, but not changed— he made it different. He made it in order. It is a system. So the system is a system of mutual support and tribute. If you are on a list of possible people who might be approached to be a member of the Duma, for example, you have to pay for your seat. Same thing all across all sectors.
Sergei Kolesnikov is another Russian tycoon who lives in exile. He fled to Talinn, Estonia. He has intimate knowledge of how the system works and how, he says, corruption goes right to the top. So every businessman dreams about giving presents and gaining protection.
A business put money into a charity— in this case, Pole of Hope. But the profit margin was huge, around 40 percent. That money was funneled through a myriad of other companies, ending up in something called Rosinvest.
Kolesnikov owned 2 percent of Rosinvest, but he says 94 percent was owned by Vladimir Putin. So no activity would have been possible without his acknowledgement. But then the president decided not to retire. At that point, Kolesnikov says, he was told to divert even more money, and soon the retirement home had blossomed into a palace.
And I was told that Putin is the czar and you are his serf. Putin has denied that he has any connection to the palace. It was reportedly sold to a rich businessman, but it remains a heavily guarded mystery. But if the new president hopes to be more than just a figurehead while Putin retains the reins of power, he will have to take on his predecessor's cronies in the intelligence community.
There are already signs that this is beginning to happen. At a meeting of the Social Chamber, an advisory board appointed by the Kremlin, Medvedev agreed with sharp criticism of the courts' lack of independence. For insiders, it was an affront against Putin confidant Viktor Ivanov, a member of the Kremlin administration who has intimidated many in his position as a kind of judicial overseer. Medvedev's comment that Russia ought to avoid becoming "intoxicated" by its size was also a veiled critique of the excessive national pride Putin and his friends have repeatedly promoted.
Medvedev's call for a new soberness surfaced for the first time in an interview with his biographer, Nikolai Svanidze. In the s, Svanidze, as the chief commentator on state-owned television, was considered one of former President Boris Yeltsin's propagandists. Putin supporters are now vilifying Svanidze and other liberals, whose advice and counsel the new president has sought, as "Yeltsinists. Krashennikov, a member of the Russian parliament, or Duma, was a former justice minister in the Yeltsin administration and is now a possible candidate for a senior post in the new administration.
Medvedev also heads the advisory board of the Institute of Modern Development, a Moscow-based think tank that includes former Yeltsin allies such as former Minister of Economics Yevgeny Yasin, who has repeatedly dared to publicly criticize Putin's policies. If Medvedev's friends had their way, a shift would occur in Russian foreign and security policy. Medvedev's advisors want to see the country return to an arrangement with the West, as in Yeltsin's day. They disapprove of Putin's tactless squabbles with the United States and his closeness to anti-American regimes like the ones in Iran, Syria and Venezuela.
As if he were already distancing himself from his successor, Putin has said it is "not necessary" to hang up Medvedev's portrait in his office, explaining coolly that there are "other ways of establishing working relationships. Moscow's scheming political elite, at any rate, continues to argue over Medvedev's future policies. One of the battlegrounds on which Putin's and Medvedev's supporters are gearing up for a showdown involves the dominant pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which is now headed by Putin.
With its roughly 2 million members, United Russia brings together government officials and their allies in the business community, as well as the majority of the country's governors and mayors. It also dominates the Duma, Russia's main lawmaking body, with of seats. Russian defeats in the first Chechen war only underlined the appalling state in which the armed forces found itself. Through greater arms sales, Putin hoped to increase funding for the armed forces, particularly for personnel and for the research and development sector of the Russian military industrial complex.
The oligarchs Putin also took steps to limit the political and economic power of the infamous oligarchswhom many Russians considered to be thieves and one of the main causes of the myriad problems facing Russia. Although Putin did not and could not destroy the business elite, he made it clear that certain limits on their behaviour would be expected.
During the Yeltsin era the media had become a tool in the hands of the oligarchs, who used their individual media outlets in their battles with each other and with political figures. On the other hand, certain television stations consistently contradicted the reports of government-controlled stations on issues such as corruption and the wars in Chechnyathereby providing an alternative source to government news sources.
While under Yeltsin the government did not try to reassert control over the mass media, television networks or their owners seen as unfriendly to Putin and his policies faced closure by the government—usually on charges of nonpayment of taxes and financial mismanagement.
Political and economic reforms Putin proved adept at constructing a stable relationship with the Duma. Putin was better able to work with the parties in the Duma and secured the passage of bills that reformed the tax, judicial, labour, and bankruptcy systems, provided property rightsadopted national symbols and the flag, and approved arms treaties.
In addition, unlike Yeltsin, Putin was not inclined to frequent changes in the cabinet or premiership, thereby creating conditions for policy consistency and political stability that ordinary Russians appreciated. Putin secured passage of legislation creating a new tax code that simplified and streamlined the tax system in order to encourage individuals and businesses to pay taxes and to improve the efficiency of paying and collecting taxes.
Coupled with a surge in income from the increase in world oil prices, the Russian government enjoyed a budget surplus and was able pay off some of its external debt. Russia also sought to increase its exports by promoting the sale of oil, natural gasand arms. The reforms implemented by Putin—as well as his demeanour—produced political stability and economic vitality not seen in the country during the s and gave Russia a sense of confidence as it entered the 21st century.
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Despite nostalgia among some communists for the Soviet period and uncertainty among many about the future, by the early 21st century Russia seemed poised to set upon the long path of economic and political development. However, deep structural problems in the economy remained, and the number of people living in poverty remained high.
Dominic Lieven Despite criticism that he had centralized too much power in the presidency and was curtailing freedoms won with the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Putin remained popular and was reelected in in a landslide, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote. Instead, Putin surprised many observers in October by announcing that he would head the list of the pro-Putin United Russia party in parliamentary elections.
Less than two weeks later, Putin anointed First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as his successor as president for the elections. In turn, Medvedev subsequently announced that he would appoint Putin prime minister if his campaign succeeded, thus giving Putin a platform by which to continue his dominance of Russian politics.
In Marchin a contest that some Western election observers such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe considered not fully fair or democratic, Medvedev was easily elected president, winning 70 percent of the vote. Medvedev took office on May 7, ; Putin was confirmed as prime minister the next day.
As fighting between Georgian and Ossetian forces escalated in AugustRussia sent thousands of troops across the border with the goal of supporting rebels in not only South Ossetia but also Abkhaziaanother separatist region within Georgia. Despite a French-brokered cease-fire, hostilities continued, and Russian troops remained in Georgia. In September the Russian government agreed to withdraw its troops from Georgia; however, it planned to maintain a military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, whose independence it had recognized.
Meanwhile, sporadic fighting between Russian forces and local militants continued elsewhere in the Caucasus region, particularly in the Russian republics of Ingushetiya and Chechnya. Despite this official pronouncement, clashes between security forces and militants in the Caucasus continued to occur, as did militant attacks on local officials and infrastructure.
Later in militants assassinated political figures in Ingushetiya and Dagestanand early in a Chechen rebel leader warned that attacks would be made in Russian cities. In March two female suicide bombers, believed to be linked to an extremist group in the Caucasus, detonated explosives that killed more than three dozen people in the Moscow Metro. That summer, amid a withering heat wave and drought, hundreds of wildfires blazed in numerous regions of western and central Russia.
Many of the fires proved difficult to extinguish, particularly those that burned underground in drained peat bogs, releasing vast amounts of smoke. In December Khodorkovsky, who was nearing the end of his initial sentence, was found guilty of additional charges of embezzlement and money launderingand he was ultimately sentenced to an additional six years in prison. As progressed, Russians wondered if Medvedev would stand for reelection in He ended months of speculation in September when he announced that he and Putin would, in essence, trade jobs.
Putin would run for president and, if elected, would likely appoint Medvedev prime minister. The plan for a seamless succession hit a snag on December 4,when United Russia suffered sharp and surprising losses in parliamentary elections. Although it retained a simple majority in the Duma, having captured just under 50 percent of the vote, the party lost the two-thirds majority that had allowed it to make changes to the constitution. International observers characterized the election as lacking fairness, and the Russian monitoring group Golos registered more than 5, complaints of voting violations.
Within days of the election, an estimated 50, people gathered near the Kremlin to protest the results. After 18 years of negotiations, Russia joined the World Trade Organization on December 16,the last member of the Group of 20 to join.