Putin: The New Tsar


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Putin: The New Tsar

Documentary revealing the story of Vladimir Putin's extraordinary rise to power - from a lowly KGB colonel to Boris Yeltsin's right-hand man and ultimately his successor.


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Transcript


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Russia is about to elect a new president.

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There's no doubt who it's going to be.

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The same man who has ruled unchecked for the last 18 years.

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Now it's classical one-man dictatorship.

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That's what always happens with dictators.

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You look at Hitler and Stalin, it's always, you know,

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step-by-step, step-by-step.

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The real Vladimir Putin remains an enigma.

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So who is the world's most powerful and feared leader?

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We talk to the presidents he has threatened...

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He said, "Your friends are making lots of nice promises to you,

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"but they never deliver.

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"I don't promise you anything nice, but I always deliver."

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..the Western leaders whose vulnerability he has exploited...

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Putin has invented new kinds of warfare,

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which Western countries are still struggling to come to terms with.

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What is called this full-spectrum capability.

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..and the inner circle of intimates

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who made him president in the first place.

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Vladimir Putin's psyche

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has been forged on the anvil of absolute power.

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The consequences for the future of the world are nothing

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if not significant.

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It's not IF Putin would attack, it's only when and where.

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You could take the view that Putin's had long enough,

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it's time for somebody else.

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Really a time for a change is the root of what you should be saying.

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Ksenia Sobchak is one of eight Russian presidential candidates.

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Vladimir Putin has been a family friend for decades.

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One important goal is to speak to the world,

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to make them understand that Russia is not Putin.

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She's meeting Lord Bell, one-time Thatcher confidante,

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for some strategic advice.

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You're a woman, for a start.

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That gives you an immediate advantage over Putin

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-and every other contestant.

-A young woman.

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It wasn't true of Thatcher.

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Thatcher had never thought of herself as a woman.

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THEY LAUGH

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-She thought of herself as a politician...

-That's true.

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I actually met her in Saint Petersburg, you know.

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I know you worked with her...

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But Sobchak knows her family friend all too well.

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He isn't going to allow her to win.

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..after elections,

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I hope it will be a big result to understand

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that chances of winning are quite minimal right now, shall we say.

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-But...

-But never say that, though, will you?

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Yes, I am saying it.

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You should always tell people you're going to win.

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You want people to vote for you...

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But in Russia, you know, people know that Putin will win.

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He created the system that allows only him to win,

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so the system is unfair.

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There were no hints of the future Tsar back in the '70s.

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Born to poor parents in a tough suburb,

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he fought his way to university and then a lowly KGB post.

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But that only lasted as long as the Soviet Union.

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In the chaos of the time,

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Mayor Anatoly Sobchak needed a tough guy -

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and the KGB officer fitted the role perfectly.

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From being a grey-faced KGB agent, just a servant

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of the state, he becomes a personality,

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and so the ego starts to grow.

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Struggling to understand the unfolding enigma

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of Vladimir Putin, successive world leaders have turned

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to one man for answers, a respected authority on power and the mind.

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The human brain has a single reward network,

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a single feel-good network that gets switched on whenever we feel,

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paid a compliment, whenever we have sex, whenever we take cocaine

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and whenever we have power and great success.

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What happens is you get a surge of intense pleasure

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and satisfaction from the stimulus,

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but as you repeat that at a higher level, the brain needs more

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and more to achieve the same effect. That's called tolerance.

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It's an insatiable appetite.

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I don't think Putin was born to be an emperor.

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His brain was PROFOUNDLY changed by the power he managed to get.

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CHEERING AND MUSIC

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In the late 1990s post-Soviet Russia was on the brink of collapse.

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A drunk president, gang warfare,

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robber baron businessmen, openly contemptuous of the rule of law.

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Kremlin insiders knew the country needed a saviour.

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Any saviour.

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The obvious successor to Yeltsin was Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov,

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charismatic, eloquent and principled.

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But Yeltsin hated him, after he opposed the Chechen war.

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And there was somebody else.

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In 1996, Vladimir Putin had come to Moscow

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to work in the administration, keeping a low profile.

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POLICE SIREN

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Gleb Pavlovsky was Boris Yeltsin's spin doctor,

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and he was tasked with preparing the succession.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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Now he's locked in a bitter legal conflict with Putin's government,

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but back in the '90s,

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his old dacha neighbour was also a Kremlin insider.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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If you're made president, that's one big, big rush.

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That is an enormous biological hit to the reward network.

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Suddenly, you're no longer just subject to the corporatist

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ideology of the communist regime.

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That regime is dead.

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You're now in charge of a new regime.

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That is a rush to the brain.

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That is a rush to the brain.

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You have not been brought up with the notion

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that there are constraints in power.

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You know, you've been brought up in a system,

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there's no democracy to it.

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That ideology has gone, the communist ideology has gone,

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so he's left without an ideology.

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The ideology he's witnessed in Saint Petersburg

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and around him is an ideology of power.

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Of power and money.

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Putin asked me at that time,

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just two days after he became Acting President, he called for me

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and offered me position of Prime Minister.

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I listed my conditions,

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those conditions were just very simple, just like 10, 15

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reforms, which I understood and were absolutely sure Russia badly needed.

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And he accepted it.

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And the only clamour from his side was just, "Don't step on his field."

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On presidential field.

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Erm, I...

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..decided to accept this.

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CAMERAS CLICK

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Mr Putin implemented his promises.

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He supported all the reforms.

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Except one.

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Except the reform of gas sector.

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APPLAUSE

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I first met him early in the year 2000.

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He was very much the apprentice leader.

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He had been surprised to find himself President of Russia.

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When he became president,

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everybody in Moscow was saying "Who is this man?"

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He had no political background, he'd hardly ever made a political speech.

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He was quite nervous.

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But also very sharp.

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He selected Tony Blair as the first foreign leader that he wished

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to meet, because at the time Tony Blair was the pre-eminent

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leader in Europe, he was at the height of his popularity

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and, in a sense, one felt that Putin was trying

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to learn from Tony Blair how to be a political leader.

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My impression of this was that he was a guy who was in charge,

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who was comfortable in his skin.

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And, of course, Tony Blair was the same.

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So there was a lot of testosterone around.

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You know, Tony, one of the reasons why he was

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so successful was he has a very strong sense of who he is

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and who he was and also he likes himself and he likes his body.

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I mean, neither will thank me for saying this,

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but they are actually remarkably similar in many ways.

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Putin said, "I want to make Russia a strong state again and I want

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"to reconnect it with the West,"

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and he spent a lot of the next three to four years

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trying to get a seat at the top table of world and Western leaders.

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Question to President Bush -

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is this a man that Americans can trust?

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I'll answer the question. I looked the man in the eye,

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I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.

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I was able to...

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..erm, get a sense of his soul.

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The sight of their president back on the world stage,

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his team's success in stabilising the country's battered economy

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led to soaring personal approval ratings.

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But also a desire for personal compensation.

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I never dreamed to become the member of the government,

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and actually I was Deputy Minister of Transport,

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and that was just coincidentally.

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TYPEWRITER CLICKS IN BACKGROUND

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INTERVIEWER: You know, the lazy argument in the West

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is that you only got these posts

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because you were a neighbour of Vladimir Putin.

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Er, quite contrary.

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Er...

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Quite contrary.

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At that time he was already in Moscow

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and that was a pure invitation

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from the Ministry of Transport.

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INAUDIBLE

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It wasn't only a reward for a job well done.

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Ministers' rising compensation

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was a reflection of others' vast wealth.

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At that time, 46%...

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..of entire GDP...

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..of Russian Federation

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was produced by companies,

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privatised companies,

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which actually belong to eight families

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in Russian Federation.

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It is not known.

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You are the first to whom I am telling this openly.

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And what is the danger of an economy that is controlled by eight people?

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Same like all over the world.

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Inequality.

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Just inequality.

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Putin now trained his sights on those eight men, the oligarchs.

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They'd been gifted their companies and huge wealth

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by the Yeltsin administration, in a chaotic auction,

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in return for political support.

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Early in 2003, the President engineered a gladiatorial clash.

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On the one side, the man who ruled Russia.

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On the other, the men who owned half of it.

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The chosen topic of conversation, corruption.

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A double-edged sword.

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the spokesman for the oligarchs,

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the fourth richest man in the world,

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suspected by the Kremlin of wanting to turn wealth

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into political influence.

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I didn't pay much attention at that time,

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because, just, it was announced that there would be meeting

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devoted to, er, corruption

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and the oligarchs' team, erm...

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..offered to Mikhail Khodorkovsky

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to make a presentation on their behalf.

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And then Putin, he explode a little bit and saying how all of you,

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and you particular, Khodorkovsky, got your wealth.

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I arranged this meeting.

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-You arranged it?

-Yes.

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-What?!

-Yeah.

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MIKHAIL BREATHES HEAVILY AND SIGHS

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LAUGHTER

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Khodorkovsky's fatal mistake was that he chose a massive oil deal

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as his major example of corruption.

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A deal which it turned out his president knew everything about.

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Mr Putin started to explain me, in the many, many details,

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he knew everything in details, that was...brought me to the

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understanding there's something wrong, started to appear...

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That he knew about the terms of this transaction.

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Putin was as good as his private word.

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Khodorkovsky was slammed in jail and his vast business sold off,

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first to a vodka bar in Siberia,

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and then to a company controlled

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by one of the President's closest allies.

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This was a turning point,

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because Yukos was the poster child for the Russian oil industry.

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It was very well regarded in the West,

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and you thought, you are damaging Russia's image

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in the Western business world.

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You're damaging the chances of getting more investment in.

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So it seemed like a pretty high-risk policy, but for Putin,

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zapping Khodorkovsky was so important

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that the economic considerations took second place.

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The West may not have liked it, but ordinary Russians did.

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They were delighted to see their president

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taking on the hated oligarchs.

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And it wasn't the only sign of a new-found personal confidence.

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Russia and Belarus were negotiating a gas deal and talks broke down.

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I instructed Gazprom, continue to supply.

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It's February, minus 25 in Minsk,

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continue to supply, then later we negotiate.

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And next morning just Prime Minister of Poland calling me,

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Prime Minister of Lithuania...

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Governor of Kaliningrad Region.

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"What's going on? We have no gas."

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Because just they were on the same line, on the same pipeline.

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President of Gazprom, he said -

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"Putin instructed me to cut supplies."

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Then we were shouting to each other.

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HE LAUGHS So what did you say?

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He said he didn't respect Lukashenko, didn't respect me.

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I, Putin, asked him personally just to accept this price and he didn't.

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He didn't sign the contract. He didn't respect me.

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Two weeks after, I was fired.

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The whole Cabinet was fired just two weeks prior to elections.

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HE LAUGHS

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Stability at home, his vast country once again at peace

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and a Cabinet under his direct control.

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It looks like the new president has single-handedly reversed

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the years of decline.

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One of the features of unlimited power

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is the acquired narcissism that occurs.

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And the acquired narcissism leads to, you know,

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a really...enormously inflated ego.

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You know, you're teaching cranes to fly,

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or you're fighting bears, you're wrestling tigers.

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You're just the smartest, cleverest, strongest,

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best-looking guy in the world!

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HE LAUGHS

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And, you know, if you inflate an ego enough,

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then the vulnerability of it increases proportionately.

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SHOUTING AND CHANTING

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Then trouble broke out where he least expected it...

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Georgia.

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Revolutions swept away his allies

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and a coltish reformer took power, Mikheil Saakashvili.

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My first contact with Vladimir Putin

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was during my first official visit to Moscow.

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They tried to persuade...

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Er, he actually rolled out red, red carpet,

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first full official visit ceremony.

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The whole setting was meant to be a kind of recruiting session,

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because Putin first took us to the office that...

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He'd said that it was former office of Stalin,

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and then he took off his tie, jacket,

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he invited me to do the same, and then sat down with me

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in what was meant to be a very,

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you know, friendly and open conversation.

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From the very first meeting, I ask him, "So, so, Vladimir,

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"do you have any problems with our dealings with the Americas?"

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"No", he said "no".

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"I myself friends with George Bush.

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"Of course we strongly...

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"No, we are not in principle against you dealing with the Americas,

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"we are just against you being slaves to the Americas".

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But then he told me something very clear.

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He told me that the sitting Georgian Minister of Security

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in Shevardnadze's government, he told me that this is our guy.

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"We have very good experience of working with him.

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"He really helped us a lot and I hope he keeps his position.

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"If he keeps his position, that will make it very easy,

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"our co-operation."

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Second time I met him, he asks, "Where is he?"

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And I told him, "Well, he got promoted.

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"We appointed him as Deputy Prosecutor General.

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He said, "Well, this is not a promotion.

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"We wanted to help him as Minister of Internal Security".

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By that he told me, "You are not going to fool me".

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Saakashvili, he enjoyed sort of poking the bear in the eye,

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and that's not always a very wise policy,

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and some people around him advised him not to do it,

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and he would've been better advised not to do it.

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The psychological and the personal now

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plays a much bigger role in international politics,

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because of the old certainties,

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the old tectonic plates of ideology and of interest between blocs,

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they've all gone,

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and we're now in a system where individual human psychology

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and personality plays much more of a role.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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To Putin's intense irritation,

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Bush immediately responded to Saakashvili's overtures,

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reversing the pro-Russian stance he'd earlier held.

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Georgia is today most sovereign and free

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and a beacon of liberty for this region and the world.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Putin began to believe that the Americans could never be trusted.

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A view strengthened as the tide of revolution

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reached neighbouring Ukraine.

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BBC NEWS THEME

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-HUW EDWARDS:

-Now to the political crisis in Ukraine.

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CROWD CHANTS

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The Orange Revolution pitted Putin's man, incumbent Viktor Yanukovich,

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against challenger Viktor Yushchenko,

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who the Kremlin thought was a US puppet.

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At the polls, Yushchenko won,

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despite the best efforts of Putin's personal spin doctor.

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That was a massive humiliation for Putin

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and it was the shakiest moment of his 18 years in power.

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For three months after that, people in Moscow were actually asking

0:31:380:31:43

whether he would last till the end of his Presidential term.

0:31:430:31:45

It was a huge defeat for him

0:31:470:31:49

because he was perceived as having lost Ukraine.

0:31:490:31:53

It's a defeat the President has never forgotten and never forgiven.

0:31:560:32:01

He could never trust the West again.

0:32:010:32:04

A perception its politicians,

0:32:040:32:06

glorying in democracy's victory in Ukraine, only strengthened.

0:32:060:32:10

From the West's point of view, this was the end of history,

0:32:150:32:19

liberal capitalism had triumphed.

0:32:190:32:22

I was a bit tough on the Russians, but there we are.

0:32:220:32:25

And I wish we'd handled it differently.

0:32:260:32:29

Imagine if, in the United Kingdom, there'd not just been Scottish

0:32:290:32:34

independence but Welsh independence and Northern Irish independence,

0:32:340:32:37

but the North West and the North East of England

0:32:370:32:41

and the South West had also decided to declare independence.

0:32:410:32:44

So we didn't really factor that in in my view

0:32:470:32:50

and we then scared the Russians with this absolutely fundamental

0:32:500:32:58

anxiety they've always had about being encircled.

0:32:580:33:03

In hindsight, I think that we created the anxieties

0:33:030:33:08

and we could have avoided them

0:33:080:33:10

from which many of Putin's subsequent policies followed.

0:33:100:33:14

2005, everything changes.

0:33:210:33:25

Vladimir Putin turns inward back to Russia and its people.

0:33:250:33:30

Gone modernisation, gone attempts to woo the fickle West.

0:33:300:33:35

Instead, "Putin is Russia, Russia is Putin" is the new slogan.

0:33:350:33:40

He will rebuild his country himself.

0:33:400:33:43

But there's a looming problem.

0:34:050:34:08

In two years' time, Putin has to stand down.

0:34:080:34:11

A new president is to be elected

0:34:110:34:13

and liberal opponents are already starting their campaigns.

0:34:130:34:17

Notably chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

0:34:170:34:21

It was a very different game from one that I'd been playing before

0:34:230:34:27

because that game was a clear winning combination.

0:34:270:34:32

In 2007 there still was a chance for Putin to walk away.

0:34:320:34:36

Already probably the richest man in the world,

0:34:360:34:39

and was a massive influence and, by the way, with a decent reputation.

0:34:390:34:43

This is the world's most famous chess player,

0:34:460:34:48

then still ranked number one.

0:34:480:34:51

Definitely one of the most recognisable faces in Russia.

0:34:510:34:54

Absolutely the most recognisable face in Russia

0:34:540:34:57

outside of movie stardom and Putin.

0:34:570:35:00

Certainly the man, if you asked anybody anywhere in Russia,

0:35:010:35:04

"Who's the smartest man in Russia?"

0:35:040:35:07

they'd probably say Garry Kasparov.

0:35:070:35:10

He almost immediately went on tour

0:35:120:35:15

and I was with him on this little chartered plane.

0:35:150:35:20

Within the space of a week, things started shutting down.

0:35:220:35:27

First we had to give up the plane

0:35:280:35:31

because they would no longer let him land.

0:35:310:35:33

In Beslan he couldn't get the venue where he was supposed to speak.

0:35:350:35:41

They said that they had a burst pipe

0:35:410:35:45

or they had an electrical failure.

0:35:450:35:48

Wherever anyone went it was either a burst pipe or an electrical failure.

0:35:480:35:51

I think that was the first place where he got stuff thrown at him

0:35:530:35:58

and we actually thought it was a gunshot.

0:35:580:36:01

By the time we got to Sverdlovsk,

0:36:010:36:02

which is the largest city in Southern Russia,

0:36:020:36:05

it was no longer a chain of coincidences.

0:36:050:36:08

At this point the plane is grounded,

0:36:080:36:10

the place where he is supposed to speak had a burst pipe

0:36:100:36:14

and then we try to check into a hotel and they say,

0:36:140:36:16

"No, you can't check into this hotel."

0:36:160:36:18

We had a dinner booked for 30 or 40 people

0:36:200:36:26

from the local small business association

0:36:260:36:29

and we get to this restaurant

0:36:290:36:32

and there was one person there.

0:36:320:36:34

And it emerged as we talked...

0:36:360:36:39

She was from the small business organisation.

0:36:390:36:41

It emerged as we talked that she had lost her cellphone the day before,

0:36:410:36:46

so she was the only one who wasn't called

0:36:460:36:50

and threatened by the Governor's people.

0:36:500:36:53

The grandmaster soon finds himself under arrest.

0:36:590:37:02

Tell your leaders that this regime is criminal. It's a police state.

0:37:090:37:13

I have to say that, compared to what we are seeing today,

0:37:160:37:19

those were vegetarian times.

0:37:190:37:23

Ten years ago, for protesting peacefully against Putin

0:37:230:37:27

on the streets you could end up in prison for five or ten days.

0:37:270:37:30

Today you would end up in prison for five or ten years.

0:37:300:37:33

My first trial, which ended up with a £40 fine,

0:37:380:37:42

but the judge there, she set up the rules for the future

0:37:420:37:45

because everything that happened with me was videotaped.

0:37:450:37:48

I had videotape, I had witnesses that proved that everything that

0:37:480:37:52

they presented in court was a lie.

0:37:520:37:54

She said she trusted a policeman, one policeman, over the rest

0:37:540:37:59

of the pile of evidence because he wore the military uniform.

0:37:590:38:06

Kasparov isn't the only one trying his luck.

0:38:280:38:32

So is Mikhail Kasyanov, keen to return to power.

0:38:320:38:36

I decided to run. I believed at that time we had a chance.

0:38:360:38:41

I started to run and at that time it was necessary to collect

0:38:410:38:45

two million signatures and we did it.

0:38:450:38:49

Then my support started to grow from 6%, which is usually 5%-6%,

0:38:490:38:56

up to 18% and one month after they cut me out of elections,

0:38:560:39:02

just describing that 35 signatures out of two million signatures

0:39:020:39:06

we believe not right, not correct.

0:39:060:39:08

HE LAUGHS

0:39:080:39:11

With no Kasyanov or Kasparov in the mix, Putin's man, Prime Minister

0:39:120:39:17

Dmitry Medvedev, succeeds him as President, but then, in defiance of

0:39:170:39:22

the spirit if not the letter of the constitution,

0:39:220:39:25

that new Prime Minister is Vladimir Putin.

0:39:250:39:29

His country's future too important to relinquish.

0:39:290:39:32

Power too addictive to give up.

0:39:320:39:35

That is absolutely clear for everyone in Russia

0:39:350:39:38

that his successor is simply just to keep the presidential seat warm

0:39:380:39:44

and he successfully implemented this goal Mr Putin wanted him to do.

0:39:440:39:50

This is why democracy was invented.

0:39:520:39:55

Take anyone who is given absolute power for more than, say,

0:39:550:40:00

eight or ten years, that will inevitably distort their behaviour

0:40:000:40:05

in ways that can be very dangerous.

0:40:050:40:07

In 2006, Putin had pushed a law through Parliament allowing

0:40:140:40:17

the KGB to kill traitors outside Russia.

0:40:170:40:21

Months later, Alexander Litvinenko lay dead in London,

0:40:230:40:27

the KGB defector poisoned with radioactive polonium after

0:40:270:40:31

eating sushi and drinking tea in a Mayfair restaurant.

0:40:310:40:36

I was on my way to London for a meeting with Tony Blair

0:40:360:40:39

and Litvinenko had been murdered a few days before that

0:40:390:40:44

and everybody was talking about it.

0:40:440:40:47

So we had to stop over in Minsk.

0:40:470:40:48

We went to see an exhibit, after which we had a banquet.

0:40:480:40:52

There was Putin in the middle.

0:40:520:40:54

I was on his right hand and Lukashenko on his left.

0:40:540:40:59

And Lukashenko has this habit of poking Putin from time to time,

0:40:590:41:05

even making fun of him.

0:41:050:41:08

And so he started to say, "So from here you're leaving for London

0:41:080:41:13

"so you should really be well fed.

0:41:130:41:15

"I don't advise you to eat anything in London."

0:41:150:41:18

And so he said, "Especially I don't advise you to eat any sushi.

0:41:180:41:23

"Don't even go close to sushi, but the safest thing to eat from

0:41:230:41:27

"which you won't for sure be poisoned

0:41:270:41:29

"is from plate in front of Vladimir."

0:41:290:41:31

So he takes plate from Putin and gives it to me.

0:41:310:41:35

And so Putin suddenly interrupts and says,

0:41:350:41:40

"I have nothing to do with the murder of this Litvinenko guy."

0:41:400:41:44

He got visibly annoyed.

0:41:440:41:45

"No. Who the hell needed Litvinenko? He was nobody.

0:41:480:41:52

"Why would I murder him?"

0:41:520:41:54

But it really got under his skin.

0:41:540:41:57

Ever since, Russia has persistently denied responsibility

0:41:570:42:01

for Litvinenko's death.

0:42:010:42:04

But behind the jokes in Minsk lay tension,

0:42:040:42:08

Putin warning Saakashvili he should drop the West or pay the price.

0:42:080:42:12

He took me aside. It was a meeting without witnesses.

0:42:140:42:18

It was a dark room next to the main hall.

0:42:180:42:22

We sat on chairs. There was not even a table.

0:42:220:42:26

So he put his hand on my knee, like, with nails and,

0:42:260:42:31

looking straight into my eyes, said,

0:42:310:42:33

"You really underestimate us. You cannot play around with Russia."

0:42:330:42:38

The all-powerful Putin was increasingly inclined to show

0:42:400:42:44

open contempt for his former allies.

0:42:440:42:46

One thing that struck me,

0:42:490:42:51

an anecdote about Putin which reveals to me

0:42:510:42:55

that he's probably not a very nice person, is Angela Merkel is

0:42:550:43:00

afraid of dogs and made the mistake of divulging this to Putin.

0:43:000:43:06

And one time when she was in Russia, what did he do,

0:43:090:43:11

but bring this enormous horrible big dog into the room

0:43:110:43:15

just so that he could then enjoy the power that comes, that

0:43:150:43:19

somewhat sadistic power that comes from making someone frightened.

0:43:190:43:24

2008 - The Georgian crisis boiled over.

0:43:290:43:33

A separatist rioted in the dissident republic of South Ossetia.

0:43:330:43:37

The Russian Army massed on the border with Putin certain

0:43:370:43:40

the hapless West would do absolutely nothing.

0:43:400:43:44

It was obviously that it was basically on the edge of war,

0:43:440:43:49

so Europeans and America started to make statements.

0:43:490:43:53

I tried to call Medvedev because Medvedev was officially the

0:43:530:43:55

President, but then they called me back from Russian protocol and said,

0:43:550:43:59

"Vladimir Putin wants to talk to you."

0:43:590:44:01

And Putin says, "Why are you calling Medvedev?

0:44:010:44:03

"It's me who is doing all these things

0:44:030:44:05

"and I'm directing the whole operation."

0:44:050:44:08

So I told him, "Look, we are very worried. Not only are we worried.

0:44:080:44:12

"Look at the statements. We have the White House, the European Union."

0:44:120:44:17

He said, "I already saw the statements.

0:44:170:44:20

"They are really very harsh, strong statements."

0:44:200:44:23

He said lots of paper was spent on the statements.

0:44:230:44:27

So he told me, "Mikheil, why don't you call your friends in the West

0:44:270:44:31

"and tell them to roll this paper and stick it in their asses?"

0:44:310:44:35

While the rest of the world is watching the Beijing Olympics,

0:44:470:44:51

Vladimir Putin sends in the tanks

0:44:510:44:54

for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

0:44:540:44:58

What happened at that moment, finally the Americans will help.

0:45:070:45:11

I have directed the Secretary of Defense Bob Gates to begin

0:45:140:45:17

a humanitarian mission to the people of Georgia

0:45:170:45:20

headed by the United States military.

0:45:200:45:23

This mission will be vigorous and ongoing.

0:45:230:45:27

And one of the things that they leaked was that Cheney wanted

0:45:270:45:30

to hit the Russians with cruise missiles.

0:45:300:45:33

Within 40 minutes of the Bush announcement,

0:45:350:45:38

Russian troops' advance on our capital was stopped.

0:45:380:45:42

So Putin got the message.

0:45:420:45:45

The West was horrified by the invasion and relieved at the

0:45:450:45:48

pull back, but even a five-day war

0:45:480:45:51

made Russians feel their country was strong again.

0:45:510:45:54

A firm leader at its tiller.

0:45:540:45:56

Worried European countries decide it's time to try

0:45:560:46:00

and be friends again.

0:46:000:46:01

I visited Moscow and I saw then-President Medvedev.

0:46:030:46:07

This was in the period

0:46:070:46:09

when Putin had stepped into being Prime Minister

0:46:090:46:12

while, of course, still holding the reins of power.

0:46:120:46:16

Medvedev is much more a normal European politician.

0:46:160:46:21

Talking to him you get a much less sinister feeling really

0:46:210:46:26

than talking to President Putin.

0:46:260:46:28

I escorted him to the Olympics when he came here in 2012.

0:46:310:46:37

I took him to the ExCel Centre to see the Judo.

0:46:370:46:41

I know a bit about Judo. I've done some Judo. Not as much as he has.

0:46:410:46:46

A Russian won the gold medal, which Putin enjoyed, of course,

0:46:460:46:49

immensely because he wasn't going to go back to Moscow

0:46:490:46:52

until he had seen a Russian win a gold medal.

0:46:520:46:55

He was going to stay as long as necessary.

0:46:550:46:57

We had champagne, you know, we had quite a party

0:46:570:47:04

and we waved him off, knowing that they'd won a gold medal,

0:47:040:47:07

with some relief that he didn't need to stay a couple of days.

0:47:070:47:10

Two years later, the Sochi Olympics were intended to be another

0:47:200:47:23

stepping stone in Russia's path to global dominance.

0:47:230:47:26

The President poured vast amounts of time and money into the project.

0:47:280:47:32

But the Games also served to distract the world's cameras

0:47:370:47:40

from his next bold foreign policy manoeuvre,

0:47:400:47:43

as Russia seized control of Crimea.

0:47:430:47:46

Dictators never ask why. It's always why not?

0:47:510:47:54

But we could see an acceleration.

0:47:560:47:58

For Hitler it took 20 months from Berlin Olympics

0:47:580:48:02

to annexation of Austria.

0:48:020:48:04

For Putin it took only 20 days,

0:48:040:48:07

from Olympics to annexation of Crimea.

0:48:070:48:09

Putin has developed a very clear consistent approach in dealing with

0:48:130:48:18

problems in those neighbours, which is to take a physical stake in them.

0:48:180:48:22

Something which,

0:48:220:48:24

every time he does it, is astonishing to Western opinion.

0:48:240:48:27

Of course it wouldn't be astonishing any more because he's done it

0:48:270:48:30

several times, but to physically take part of one of those countries,

0:48:300:48:36

to stop that country functioning as a sovereign state...

0:48:360:48:40

..and that is how he arrests the arrival

0:48:420:48:45

or the growth of Western ideas.

0:48:450:48:48

And of course he was bold enough to do the same in Syria.

0:48:510:48:54

To physically intervene, in my view,

0:48:540:48:57

emboldened by Western failure to intervene.

0:48:570:49:02

One of the key features

0:49:040:49:07

of the extreme narcissism of the emperor

0:49:070:49:12

is you lose the ability to distinguish your interests

0:49:120:49:17

from the interests of the country.

0:49:170:49:20

And so you and your nation's interest becomes identical.

0:49:200:49:24

To the baffled West, Vladimir Putin looked arbitrary and out of control.

0:49:260:49:31

But to his people he looked like a true Tsar, happy to flout

0:49:310:49:35

Western norms of behaviour to safeguard Russia's vital interests.

0:49:350:49:39

Then one old rival decides to challenge the apparently

0:49:450:49:48

invincible President.

0:49:480:49:49

CROWDS CHANT

0:49:500:49:54

Boris himself had as close a relationship to power as anyone.

0:49:540:49:58

For many years he was perceived as the heir apparent to Yeltsin.

0:49:580:50:02

And then Putin takes that place.

0:50:020:50:04

And, of course,

0:50:050:50:08

neither of them can sort of

0:50:080:50:09

let the other alone.

0:50:090:50:12

Nemtsov, I think, for principled reasons,

0:50:120:50:14

and Putin for reasons of insecurity and vengefulness.

0:50:140:50:16

Boris Nemtsov started small -

0:50:200:50:23

a pamphlet alleging that his nemesis had 58 jets, two yachts,

0:50:230:50:29

a summer palace,

0:50:290:50:30

making Vladimir Putin the world's richest man.

0:50:300:50:34

His co-author was a former government minister.

0:50:340:50:37

Boris Nemtsov and myself, we were questioning the whole narrative

0:50:390:50:42

that things got so much better under Putin that we should be just

0:50:420:50:46

happy and let him be the lifetime monarch.

0:50:460:50:49

We described a lot of irregularities and serious problems that

0:50:490:50:53

existed underneath the economically brilliant surface.

0:50:530:50:57

Growing inequality became much higher than in the 1990s,

0:50:570:51:03

growing corruption and institutionalised corruption,

0:51:030:51:06

which also was never the case in the '90s because, in the '90s,

0:51:060:51:09

it was all bribes from businessmen to bureaucrats, but under Putin,

0:51:090:51:15

it became bureaucrats completely affiliated with making dirty money,

0:51:150:51:19

and actually it became their business,

0:51:190:51:21

and their only business, to do so.

0:51:210:51:24

You know, we are not perfect,

0:51:250:51:28

but who actually is?

0:51:280:51:30

Did I commit things?

0:51:320:51:34

Yes, I committed things.

0:51:340:51:36

But I never killed a person,

0:51:360:51:40

I never slapped anybody by the face,

0:51:400:51:44

either figurally, either, you know, physically,

0:51:440:51:48

and I never stealed from anybody.

0:51:480:51:52

I help a lot and, you know, from time to time,

0:51:520:51:57

it returns to me in the form of just unexpected support.

0:51:570:52:01

I call him Boris,

0:52:070:52:10

but sometimes I have started to call him suspect.

0:52:100:52:15

But he was a man with a brilliant sense of humour.

0:52:150:52:21

He was preparing the next pamphlet devoted to the election in Crimea.

0:52:240:52:30

It's a very sensitive subject for Putin's regime.

0:52:320:52:35

One winter's night, Boris Nemtsov

0:52:450:52:48

starts to cross the Moskvoretsky Bridge,

0:52:480:52:50

in the shadow of the Kremlin walls.

0:52:500:52:53

Moments later, he's shot in the back and the head four times.

0:52:530:52:59

I was of course shocked.

0:52:590:53:00

I couldn't even imagine that it could happen

0:53:000:53:03

in the 21st century,

0:53:030:53:04

with us, in the centre of Moscow.

0:53:040:53:07

I immediately came there, on the bridge,

0:53:090:53:12

and I just was standing,

0:53:120:53:14

and the body of... Murdered my friend.

0:53:140:53:18

Just on the front of Kremlin wall,

0:53:180:53:21

where just all Secret Service cameras were just installed.

0:53:210:53:25

I was shocked. It was a real shock for me.

0:53:330:53:37

I didn't think it was possible.

0:53:370:53:38

I didn't think it was possible.

0:53:400:53:42

And I didn't know...

0:53:420:53:43

..who was guilty of it.

0:53:450:53:47

Despite the absence of any CCTV -

0:53:470:53:50

Kremlin's cameras were being serviced that night -

0:53:500:53:53

four men are arrested for Nemtsov's murder - one a former para.

0:53:530:53:57

But Nemtsov's supporters doubt ultimate responsibility lies

0:53:590:54:03

with the former serviceman.

0:54:030:54:05

If you stand there and look at the location,

0:54:050:54:08

then you completely understand that,

0:54:080:54:10

in this place, it cannot happen

0:54:100:54:14

without not only the permission but the order from person number one.

0:54:140:54:19

Almost all people who hold great power for a long time begin

0:54:310:54:36

to feel so special.

0:54:360:54:38

"I am so amazing.

0:54:380:54:40

"God must have something to do with this.

0:54:420:54:44

"Look, I can snap my fingers and they invade a country.

0:54:470:54:51

"I can... I have power of life and death over man and woman."

0:54:510:54:55

George W Bush confessed he thought that God was

0:54:570:55:01

involved in his decision on the Iraq war.

0:55:010:55:04

Tony Blair hinted of a wee chat with God now and again.

0:55:040:55:09

Julius Caesar had himself deified when he was still alive.

0:55:090:55:12

With unchallenged authority at home

0:55:130:55:15

and his nearest neighbours put in their place,

0:55:150:55:18

the President is now able to spread his influence even further afield.

0:55:180:55:23

It seems very evident there was a Russian interference

0:55:240:55:29

in the election.

0:55:290:55:30

The amount of evidence amassed by the intelligence agencies

0:55:300:55:34

in the United States about Russia is unlikely to be wrong.

0:55:340:55:38

A lot of people say, as an example, you know,

0:55:380:55:41

"Hillary likes to play tough with Russia."

0:55:410:55:44

Putin looks at her and he laughs, OK?

0:55:440:55:47

Putin's goals are strategic goals.

0:55:520:55:55

He wants chaos because that's his breathing air.

0:55:550:56:01

He needs chaos because that's how he installs his authorities

0:56:010:56:06

inside and outside of Russia.

0:56:060:56:08

He doesn't want to compete.

0:56:090:56:11

He cannot compete with the free world,

0:56:110:56:13

but the moment it comes into wars and conflicts,

0:56:130:56:16

he's dominant because he is very quick at making decisions.

0:56:160:56:20

He doesn't bother about Parliament, free press,

0:56:200:56:23

public opinion, so he immediately grabs

0:56:230:56:26

an opportunity if it is presented.

0:56:260:56:31

He looks at the world map, looking for bargaining chips,

0:56:310:56:35

because for him it's all geo-political casino.

0:56:350:56:37

I think this is part of a pattern where there has quite probably been

0:56:400:56:44

Russian interference in elections

0:56:440:56:47

and referendums throughout Europe over the last few years,

0:56:470:56:52

not always to achieve a specific result

0:56:520:56:55

but to diminish confidence in the democratic process

0:56:550:57:01

over time and to weaken the unity of the West.

0:57:010:57:05

And it's not over.

0:57:070:57:09

With just days to go to the election,

0:57:200:57:23

the President announces a new global arms race, with nukes

0:57:230:57:28

designed to elude any antimissile system, present or future.

0:57:280:57:32

Out on the campaign trail, there's

0:57:460:57:48

a growing tide of suspicion that the President is just using his family

0:57:480:57:52

friend as a window-dressing on his inevitable accession to power.

0:57:520:57:56

So you're not the Kremlin's puppet, then?

0:57:590:58:02

Well, I'm tired of answering this question. No, I'm not.

0:58:020:58:06

Do you want to be the next president?

0:58:060:58:08

Well, I want to,

0:58:080:58:11

but I'm not sure it will be this year.

0:58:110:58:14

But I hope in six years, I'll have a chance to do that.

0:58:140:58:17

To my mind, there is no way out,

0:58:170:58:20

he will stay there for a long time.

0:58:200:58:24

Even if you could arrange a handover

0:58:290:58:33

that guaranteed he would not suffer the fate of Gaddafi

0:58:330:58:38

or Saddam Hussein,

0:58:380:58:40

how would you replace the incredible

0:58:400:58:44

mainlining into your reward network of exceptional power?

0:58:440:58:49

There is an awful bleakness and blackness out there awaiting you.

0:58:490:58:53

How did a poor boy from a tiny flat in St Petersburg become one of the world's most powerful leaders? Admired by Trump and feared by his rivals, on the eve of his almost certain re-election as president of Russia, The New Tsar reveals the story of Vladimir Putin's extraordinary rise to power - from a lowly KGB colonel to Boris Yeltsin's right-hand man and ultimately his successor.

There are revelations from Putin's inner circle at the Kremlin, including former confidante Sergei Pugachev, who helped Putin to power before falling from favour. Chess master Gary Kasparov recounts his failed attempt to stand against him and oligarch Mikhail Khordokovsky, who was jailed and stripped of his wealth, speaks of the consequences of experiencing the wrath of Putin.

The programme also hears from former home secretary Jack Straw, who recalls Putin's first encounter with Tony Blair - the leader Putin apparently attempted to model himself on and Straw wryly observes that the two are 'very similar'. Former foreign secretary William Hague entertained Putin during the London 2012 Olympic Games and bonded over a shared love of judo - but later found himself unable to influence the decision made to invade Crimea.