Kasparov at CNN's Late Report

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
It's not over yet. Kasparov has now also appeared on CNN, where he told his story against Wolf Blitzer in the program Late Edition. Unfortunately not complete, but still, the interview can already be found on YouTube. You'll find the transcript provided by CNN below.


Here's the transcript provided by
KASPAROV: Yes, the election -- presidential election is next March. But as in America you have problems for third-party candidates to be registered. In Russia, we have the same problems with a second- party candidate.

So that's why for us it is very important to be part of the game, and to make sure that the Kremlin cannot stage elections and present it to the world as something democratic.

BLITZER: A former Soviet spokesman, Vladimir Posner, a Russian television host, said this on "60 Minutes" the other day, he said: "Everyone knows that he was a great chess player, but today they know him as a fringe, as they would say, political figure, and he could not be elected dog catcher."

Those are pretty strong words from Posner.

KASPAROV: These are absolutely very strong words. Mr. Posner had to add that if I could have a chance to be on TV programs like his, in two or three weeks the situation would change completely.

But because people like him do not want to confront regime and play like, you know, Kremlin stooges, then our chances, of course, are highly limited.

BLITZER: What is your basic issue with the current president of Russia?

KASPAROV: Russia is a police state. It is some sort of soft version of one-party dictatorship. It's presented as a big economic success, as a stability, but underneath, it's a volcano which in my view is about to erupt.

It's a growing gap with rich and poor. It's a collapsing infrastructure. It's a looming potentially banking crisis and ongoing political crisis because there is no stable political system to govern the country.

BLITZER: David Remnick wrote an article about you in The New Yorker magazine, the October 1st issue. I'm going to read a sentence because it jumped out at me when I read that article: "Kasparov, like many others in opposition, is convinced that Putin became a billionaire in office, perhaps the richest man in the country, and has entrusted Russian confederates to shelter his money in foreign banks."

First of all, do you believe that?

KASPAROV: Absolutely. I think we'll find out more when Putin is not in power. That will be one of the worst stories about dictatorships looting and robbing the country. Obviously it will take time.

But when you look at the list of Russia billionaires -- and that's the now second country in the world, ahead of Germany and Japan, just behind the United States, you'll find out that we already have dozens of billionaires. And Putin can imprison all of them in 24 hours.

Do we think that he is poor?

BLITZER: Well, what evidence -- besides your suspicion, but is there any hard evidence that he's stolen billions of Russian dollars?

KASPAROV: Look, Wolf, his cronies are in charge of the most lucrative business in Russia. His closest friends that work with him since the late '80s, and now they are "taking care," quote-unquote, of the most valuable businesses in oil, gas, and other energy sectors. They all are billionaires and that's not a big secret.

Now how about him? He is still poor?

BLITZER: Well, that is the question that...


KASPAROV: Absolutely. Don't worry, the independent -- independent justice in Russia will investigate it when the time comes.

BLITZER: But you are saying he has bank accounts -- Swiss bank accounts or all sorts of secret holdings, is that what you are suggesting?

KASPAROV: Look, you know, we -- what we know, for instance, that there is a mysterious owner of 37 (ph) percent of Surgutneftegaz, which is roughly worth $20 billion at the current market value. And these shares disappeared at the end of the last year from Russian registration, somewhere in the tax havens.

And there are many other similar occasions that might lead only to one person who is in charge. But again, his friends are splitting the country's national budget. They are in control of Gazprom, Rosneft, and the largest so- called state-run corporations.

BLITZER: Well, Russia is clearly making a lot of money now exporting oil with oil at $90 a barrel.

KASPAROV: It is not -- it is not Russia, there are people who are in charge. As we say in Russia, it is a bizarre combination of Karl Marx and Adam Smith. Expenses nationalized and profits privatized.

BLITZER: There is another side of the story. Let me read to you what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn told Der Spiegel back in July. He said: "Putin inherited a ransacked and bewildered country with a poor and demoralized people, and he started to do what was possible, a slow and gradual restoration." Here are some statistics that have come out recently. The Russian economy, the gross domestic product is now up 7.7 percent, real incomes up 14.4 percent, 600,000 new jobs. And this poll that came out from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center asked about approval or disapproval of President Putin's job rating -- 83 percent in this poll said they approve of the job he is doing; 10 percent disapprove.

Those are pretty amazing numbers.

KASPAROV: Look, you know, I don't think that we can trust opinion polls taken in a police state. People obviously are scared to answer the question about Putin or their governor. The moment you ask the same people about economy, about social security, health care, other important issues -- issues important for them, you can get a very, very different number.

Now as for Russian GDP and all other average statistics, yes, you are absolutely right. But the problem is that the country is divided into uneven parts. Fifteen percent that are living in the country you just described, and 85 percent, which is 120 million people, they are not seeing all of these benefits.

And for instance, in Moscow, which is declared by Financial Times the most expensive city for foreigners, the average income, official statistics, is just slightly over $1,000.

BLITZER: President Bush was asked the other day about his conversations with Putin, about who would succeed Putin, what is next in Russia. Listen to what President Bush said.


BUSH: I tried to get it out of him, who is going to be his successor, what he intends to. And he was wily. He wouldn't tip his hand.


BLITZER: Now, there is some suggestion that he has got to give up his presidency, but he might run as prime minister, in effect, have a figurehead as president where he as prime minister would really run the country.

Is that your suspicion?

KASPAROV: No. I don't think Putin will be prime minister because he said it. Now, if you look at Putin's record, everything he promised or indicated, didn't happen. So that's why I think he is trying to stay in power, no doubt about it, but he will be looking for more of the model of spiritual leader. For instance, Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, and his probably latest visit to Tehran was one of the steps to figure out how to do it.

I don't think that the prime minister could fit Putin's aspirations, because it is a subordinate position. And in Russia, it is too dangerous to create two alternative sources of power.

So I guess it will be Putin's rule based on his mandate that he wants to receive from the parliamentary elections when he is head of the party list of the United Russia, which is the current analogue of the Communist Party.

BLITZER: You are emerging as an outspoken opposition critic of the president of the regime in Russia right now. How worried are you about this? And I ask the question in light of some incidents that have occurred -- tragic incidents in the past year or so. And I will put them up on the screen. Look at this -- Alexander Litvinenko killed; Anna Politkovskaya killed, a Russian journalist; Mikhail Khodorkovsky in a Siberian prison. He was an oligarch, a billionaire.

There are some who have suggested that your security may be endangered as well. How worried are you?

KASPAROV: I'm very worried, but I don't have any other choice. If I want to be one of the opposition leaders, I have to share the same risks as thousands of activists across the country that cannot even rely on the protection of the famous name, or they do not have financial abilities to hire security and to organize some minimal protection.

BLITZER: So you have good security when you are campaigning, when you are out on the streets in Russia?

KASPAROV: What I mean, good security, yes, I can be protected against hooligans or against spontaneous attacks. If the state wants to go after me or after anybody else, I don't think we have much to say.

I can minimize the risk. I cannot eliminate it, because I understand we are dealing with a regime that has no allergy to blood.

BLITZER: Your book, "How Life Imitates Chess," has a lot of practical examples for people to learn on how to deal with a crisis, how to deal with challenges, how to deal with opportunities. What is the single most important example you can give us that you are learning right now as you make the transition from a chess world champion to a politician struggling to change his country?

KASPAROV: There are two things I want to say now. One is that we always must stay objective. If position demands us to attack, we must do it; if position demands us to stay quiet and to defend, we must do it. So it is very important not to overestimate or underestimate your chances.

But as a professional player, I always preferred to be on the aggressive side. So that is why for those who have this opportunity, I would recommend to go on the attack, because the odds are in favor of those who are taking risks.

So it is about courage to take risk, courage to fail. That is what many people are trying to avoid. And when I hear, for instance, at a political debate in the United States, I'm surprised that the to- be leaders of this country, are trying to avoid the most important issues.

BLITZER: Garry Kasparov, good look to you. Thanks very much for joining us. The book is entitled "How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves from the Board to the Boardroom."

Garry Kasparov, thanks.

KASPAROV: Thank you very much for inviting me.
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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