Democracy Threatens Putin, Russia and the West


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Democracy Threatens

Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and other statesmen discuss Putin's role in the rigged 2004 Ukrainian elections and the impact of the Orange Revolution that followed.


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In 2006, Vladimir Putin launched a campaign against those

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he considered to be Russia's enemies.

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The Russian government released video of a fake rock which

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they said was being used by British spies in Russia.

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I'm afraid you're going to get

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the old stock-in-trade of never

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commenting on security matters.

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Except when we want to, obviously.

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It appeared that the British had been framed.

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But the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff now reveals

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that the footage was genuine.

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There's not much you can say.

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The spy rock was embarrassing. They had us bang to rights.

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Clearly they had known about it for some time

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and had been saving it for a political purpose.

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That purpose was to justify a new law cracking down

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on human rights and pro-democracy groups,

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which Putin said were funded by western secret services.

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Putin had come to power promising to defeat the rebellion in Chechnya.

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He threw everything at it.

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In three years his forces had retaken the territory,

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but they could not bring peace.

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Some Chechen fighters had found a safe haven

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in a small corner of Georgia, the Pankisi Gorge.

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From there they regularly slipped across the border to attack

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Russian troops.

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This conflict over the Pankisi Gorge

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would bring America onto Russia's doorstep.

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It began with a warning by Putin.

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Sergei said,

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they're not doing anything in Pankisi

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and pretty soon the Russian army

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will just take care of it,

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we'll bomb them, we'll go in there.

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They were not only Chechens in the Pankisi Gorge.

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There were Pakistanis, Arabs, you name it.

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It was like an arc of Noah.

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And I said "stop."

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I said, "Russian Generals want no piece of the Pankisi Gorge

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"and they're not going in there and you know that and I know that

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"so stop threatening to do something you're not going to do."

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Well, she didn't like, of course,

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what we hinted what we would do in the future.

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I said, "No way, we have to do it.

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"Otherwise we are not joint partners in fighting terrorism."

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And so we said, "Look, we'll train the Georgian forces

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"to deal with the problem in the Pankisi."

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US Special Forces arrived in Georgia.

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They helped expel the Chechens.

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But then they stayed on and American interests there grew.

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Georgia's president,

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former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze,

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had been highly regarded.

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But as opposition to him grew, the West financed pro-democracy groups.

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The country was not being well run.

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There was corruption,

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there were things going on

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that Shevardnadze could have done

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something about and he didn't.

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So, despite my personal affection for him,

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and my professional admiration of him

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when he was the Russian Foreign Minister, his time had passed.

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In November 2003, Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, was shut down by protests.

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Pro-democracy groups claimed that President Shevardnadze's party

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had fixed parliamentary elections.

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Mikheil Saakashvili, the former mayor, led the opposition.

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Shevardnadze ignored the protests and summoned the new parliament.

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But many members boycotted it.

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Before he finished delivering his opening speech,

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the opposition had to make a decision.

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We had nothing to lose.

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And actually, we came into one room

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and actually I was the most radical one.

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I had a hard time to convince them and ultimately told them,

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"If you are not coming I'm leaving myself, on my own."

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And then I heard the heels of Burjanadze following me,

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the noise, and then I understood that yeah, they're coming as well.

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Somehow there was very little resistance put up to us.

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The crowds were huge, the troops demoralized, I mean,

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with no motivation to resist, they just let us through.

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CHEERING

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And when we went in,

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we saw Shevardnadze was stubbornly continuing to speak

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and at a certain moment I started to scream, you know,

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"Resign! Leave!"

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And that was the moment when he was whisked away by his guards.

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CHEERING

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WHISTLING AND CHEERING

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But her claim to be acting President faced a problem.

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President Shevardnadze had not resigned.

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That night in Moscow,

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President Putin was treating his Security Council to dinner.

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The Russian foreign minister flew immediately to Georgia.

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The demonstration outside parliament was still in full flow,

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so he went to see what was happening.

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He spoke to the crowd and one of the opposition leaders helped him.

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The gesture he made

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when he addressed the protesters

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in front of parliament

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was pretty extraordinary.

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And this underlined that the intentions of the Russian side

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is not to intervene in the domestic affairs of Georgia.

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Next, Ivanov went to meet the opposition leaders.

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Basically his message was, "Don't do anything, guys.

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"We need to negotiate.

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"We need several days now. Everybody should take their time.

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"You know, let me talk to both sides."

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Finally Ivanov went to see the man who had summoned him.

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Sheverdnadze had been his boss years earlier

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when they were both Soviet diplomats.

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Shevardnadze was persuaded to talk to the opposition.

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Later that day, Ivanov went with Saakashvili to meet him.

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The Russian foreign minister presented a compromise.

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The opposition would get their demand,

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a rerun of the parliamentary elections,

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but Shevardnadze would remain president.

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But as soon as Ivanov left,

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Shevardnadze turned his back on the compromise.

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He basically told us, "look," he told to Zurab Zhvania,

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"Look, I have nurtured you, I have helped you to get into politics."

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Then he turned to me and said, you know,

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he never expected anything good from me.

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He thought we always had bad relations,

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or tense relation. And he basically told us, "Thank you, goodbye."

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SHOUTING

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A special presidential election was held to replace Shevardnadze.

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At his inauguration,

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the new president made it clear where he wanted to lead his country.

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The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, was watching.

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So was the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

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When the national anthem was over and I was about to sit down,

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another national anthem started and I looked to left

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and the EU flag was being raised and Ode To Joy was being played,

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and I said,

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"Oh boy, I bet Igor isn't enjoying this part of the performance."

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MUSIC: "Ode To Joy" by Beethoven

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We had been training some of the Georgian units in American tactics

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and I was just fascinated to watch some Georgian troops march by

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marching like Soviet troops the way they had been trained

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and then the next contingent go by marching like American soldiers.

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Then, to top it all off,

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President Saakashvili invited me to go back into the City Hall with him

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and around the walls were flags posted.

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Two flags, a Georgian flag and an American flag side by side.

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There must have been 20 of them and I said, "Oh, my heavens."

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Saakashvili said he would make Georgia a member of NATO,

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the alliance that had been created to defend the West

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against Soviet Russia.

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The states freed from Soviet rule had been clamouring to join NATO.

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Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic had done so.

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In November 2002, seven new members were welcomed in.

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Latvia lost its independence

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for a very long time,

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and it knows the meaning

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both of liberty and the loss of it.

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Latvia knows the meaning of security and the loss of it.

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And this is why being invited in an alliance

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that will ensure our security is a momentous moment

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that will be writ large in the history of our nation.

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The day after the celebration,

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the alliance was to meet with other potential partners.

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The most important was Ukraine,

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where the next struggle between Russia and the West would erupt.

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Some members, including America,

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would have liked Ukraine to join NATO,

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but its President, Leonid Kuchma, had been accused of murder

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and corruption at home and sanctions-busting abroad.

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A number of countries did not want

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President Kuchma of Ukraine

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to come to the summit.

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He'd been involved in a pretty dodgy deal,

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apparently selling anti-aircraft equipment to Saddam's Iraq.

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He said it was a disgrace, he was entitled to come,

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they were members of the Partnership For Peace.

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He believed in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council

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and why should he, you know, be prevented from coming?

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It was quite clear I'd failed in my endeavour to stop him from coming.

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And he came.

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President Kuchma enjoyed hobnobbing with NATO

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but Ukraine had no chance of getting in while he was in charge.

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In 2004, though, the end of Kuchma's term in office was approaching.

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The front runner in the race to succeed him was Viktor Yushchenko.

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He was supported by the West and was a harsh critic of Kuchma.

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Ukraine is almost ten times bigger than Georgia.

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The main pipelines carrying Russia's gas exports to the West

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cross Ukraine.

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Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Ukraine.

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Almost 8 million Russians live there.

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Putin went to visit Kuchma to discuss how to get

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an election result that would protect Russia's interests.

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Putin sent his own campaign managers from Moscow

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to help the Ukrainian president make sure that the right candidate won.

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The man the Russians and President Kuchma set out to make the next president

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came from Ukraine's Russian-speaking industrial heartland.

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The Kremlin team supplied the Ukrainians with modern campaign advice.

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And in the months leading up to the elections,

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Putin made seven trips to Ukraine.

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Putin was generally accompanied by a man

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who would later go on to a glittering career.

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The opposition was confronted with endless dirty tricks.

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Despite all the obstacles put in his way,

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Viktor Yushchenko led in the polls.

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So the Kremlin, while continuing to oppose Yushchenko,

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opened a secret back channel to him.

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The opposition campaign manager made weekly visits to Moscow,

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where Kremlin officials quizzed him.

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At the end of that summer,

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Yushchenko was still ahead in the polls.

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He seemed unstoppable.

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In the early hours of the 6th of September

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he was driving home from a dinner.

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It soon became clear that Yushchenko was gravely ill.

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He was flown to a private clinic in Vienna

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where he was found to have been poisoned by a huge dose of dioxin.

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Whoever poisoned Yushchenko had succeeded in removing him

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from the campaign.

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But after only two weeks,

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Yushchenko discharged himself from the hospital.

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Make-up covered the scars,

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and drugs from a portable drip dulled the pain.

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International observers arrived in Ukraine for polling day.

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They reported fraud, including bus-loads of supporters

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of Kuchma's candidate voting again and again.

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Putin decided Yanukovich had won even before the votes

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were counted, and sent a message of congratulations.

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The exit polls, overseen by the election monitors,

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were showing that Yushchenko had won by 11%.

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But the official announcement said Yanukovich had won by 3%.

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CHANTING

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Yushchenko called on his supporters

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to come to Kiev's Independence Square to protest.

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CHANTING

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Thousands of protestors with their orange scarves

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and banners demanded Yushchenko's victory be recognized.

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They occupied Kiev's Independence Square.

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Pro-democracy groups and foundations backed by Western money

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had been preparing for a mass protest.

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They swung into action.

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There was a debate within the Administration

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of how forward-leaning to be.

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and there were some who were very cautious.

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This is not our business,

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let's let the process play out.

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I came into the office

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while this was all unfolding

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and called in my team

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and I said "Look, this is too big.

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"We cannot simply stand by and say nothing."

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We cannot accept

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this result as legitimate

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because it does not meet

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international standards

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and because there has not been an investigation

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of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.

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Putin pressed Kuchma to restore order.

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Kuchma had turned to the EU member closest to Ukraine.

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The protestors had been camped out for five days

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by the time the Polish president arrived in Ukraine.

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He had assembled a team of EU mediators.

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Their plan was to get the two presidential candidates

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to round table talks.

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First, they saw President Kuchma,

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who interrupted the meeting to take a call from Putin.

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Then Kuchma let slip that thousands of miners were arriving in Kiev.

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They were supporters of his candidate

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and were preparing to attack the Orange demonstrators.

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Kuchma saw he had to stop the miners. He knew who to call.

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Later that day, with the pro-Yushchenko demonstration

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still occupying the city centre, the presidential candidates

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and the EU mission gathered.

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President Kuchma chaired the meeting.

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Instead of Yeltsin,

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Putin had sent the Speaker of the Russian Parliament, Boris Gryzlov.

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Then, Yanukovich made a crucial mistake.

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Once each side had accused the other of fraud,

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they had to agree that the accusations be reviewed

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by Ukraine's Supreme Court.

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The EU mediators insisted that the hearing be televised

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so that the country could judge the court's fairness.

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Kuchma was running out options.

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The demonstrators continued to blockade

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the key government buildings.

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The night before the Supreme Court hearing was to start,

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heavily-armed interior ministry troops prepared for an assault.

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Troops ultimately under Kuchma's command.

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The American Ambassador phoned to tell the Secretary of State

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what was happening in Kiev.

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He said interior ministry troops, the special troops,

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were on the outskirts of the city, massed.

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This is bad and we have to get to Kuchma telling him

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"Do not do this."

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And I called, I tried to call the President,

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but he suddenly wasn't available.

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The fact of the matter is, he may not have been available

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but he knew why he was being called.

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The call achieved its purpose.

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The interior ministry troops were quietly turned around.

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When I reached him the next morning,

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I said "Mr President, we have heard word,

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"we have seen things that are very troubling."

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Three weeks later, Yushchenko won the rerun decisively.

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Time was up for the Russian advisers.

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Russia had failed.

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The Kremlin had spent millions, and invested the personal prestige

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of Putin himself in an attempt to prevent Yushchenko's victory.

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The day after his inauguration,

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the new president called on the man

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who had tried so hard to keep him out.

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The two men tried to appear on good terms.

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In contrast, Washington received Yushchenko like a hero.

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APPLAUSE

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CHANTING: Yushchenko! Yushchenko! Yushchenko!

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The more Washington supported democracy movements

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on Russia's borders, the more dictatorial Putin became.

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He changed the election rules,

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making his party virtually unchallengeable.

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Regional governors, who used to be elected,

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were now appointed by the president.

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His new system came to be known as the Power Vertical,

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with Putin on top.

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Four years earlier, George Bush said he had got a sense of Putin's soul.

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Now he wasn't so sure.

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That meeting was probably the testiest meeting the two leaders had

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and the President anticipated

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that it would be so.

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He anticipated he was going to get

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pushed back from President Putin on the democracy issue.

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In private, Bush accepted none of this.

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The President's case to President Putin

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was that President Putin had a historic opportunity

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to move Russia permanently to the West,

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by building the institutions of a democratic state,

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with checks and balances.

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Build independent political parties. Build an independent media.

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Build an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

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BUSH: 'Democracies have things in common.

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'They have the rule of law...'

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I believe it was Sergei Prihodko

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who started talking about the special character of Russian democracy

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and what I'm mostly reminding him of is there are certain things

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that come with democracy,

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I don't care who you are and where you are, you get to choose

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those who are going to govern you, they don't impose themselves on you.

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You get to be free from the arbitrary power of the secret police,

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and the knock...

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and of the state, and you get to say what you wish you say.

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President Bush continued to preach his freedom agenda.

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He flew to Georgia to give the democratic revolution his blessing.

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Georgia is today both sovereign and free

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

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You are making many important contributions to freedom's cause,

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but your most important contribution is your example.

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Such triumphs for democracy on Russia's borders scared the Kremlin.

0:46:570:47:01

The Kremlin team that had been sent to Ukraine now had a new project.

0:47:190:47:25

Many young Russians passionately supported Putin,

0:47:250:47:29

and Putin needed shock troops.

0:47:290:47:33

ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC

0:47:330:47:36

So the Kremlin created a new youth movement, Nashi.

0:47:530:47:57

They were treated to holiday camps that featured paramilitary training,

0:47:570:48:01

patriotic talks, and guest lecturers.

0:48:010:48:04

Within six months, Nashi grew to a hundred thousand members.

0:48:500:48:54

The Kremlin used Nashi to intimidate anyone it considered its enemy.

0:48:570:49:01

Especially those too keen on democracy.

0:49:010:49:03

In 2006, activists set up a new group, the Other Russia,

0:49:050:49:10

to defend democracy.

0:49:100:49:12

They invited Britain's ambassador to speak at their conference.

0:49:120:49:15

For some reason

0:49:180:49:20

the Russian authorities picked me,

0:49:200:49:23

and my speech out,

0:49:230:49:24

as something particularly worthy

0:49:240:49:27

of counterattack.

0:49:270:49:29

And this youth group, Nashi, demanded an apology

0:49:290:49:32

for Tony Brenton's interference in Russian internal politics.

0:49:320:49:36

Now there was no way I was going to apologise.

0:49:360:49:40

And they then camped outside my house, waving banners

0:49:400:49:43

and so on, followed me round the town, and the country,

0:49:430:49:47

shouted abuse at the back of various public meetings

0:49:470:49:50

that I went to speak at,

0:49:500:49:51

and so on, and generally were always there,

0:49:510:49:55

always loud, always hostile.

0:49:550:50:00

Western governments and foundations financed many of the 2,000

0:50:090:50:14

pro-democracy groups in Russia.

0:50:140:50:17

The Kremlin launched a campaign to discredit them.

0:50:170:50:20

Lyudmila Alexeyeva was the most venerated of all the dissidents.

0:50:230:50:27

Through her Moscow Helsinki Group,

0:50:270:50:29

she had been fighting for human rights in Russia since the 1970s.

0:50:290:50:33

The Kremlin set out to get her.

0:50:330:50:35

The programme implied that the human rights groups

0:51:410:51:46

were receiving foreign funding covertly.

0:51:460:51:49

All of our activities with the NGOs were completely above board,

0:51:490:51:53

on our website, the sums of money, the projects,

0:51:530:51:55

all of that was completely public.

0:51:550:51:58

The boss of the Helsinki group decided to sue Russia's spy agency,

0:51:580:52:03

the FSB, for slander.

0:52:030:52:05

But, in court, the FAB's defence surprised her.

0:52:050:52:08

The film's other target, the British government,

0:52:520:52:56

kept quiet about the spy rock.

0:52:560:52:58

There's not much you can say.

0:52:580:53:00

You can't really call up and say, "Terribly sorry about that.

0:53:000:53:03

"Won't happen again." They had us bang to rights.

0:53:030:53:06

Clearly they had known about it for some time

0:53:060:53:09

and had been saving it up for a political purpose.

0:53:090:53:12

Putin used the spy rock to justify a new law drastically

0:53:140:53:17

restricting the work of non-government organisations, NGOs.

0:53:170:53:22

Putin's new law made it almost impossible for Russian NGOs

0:53:520:53:55

to receive foreign funding.

0:53:550:53:57

Many had to shut down.

0:53:580:54:00

The atmosphere in Russia turned uglier.

0:54:170:54:21

Nationalist gangs beat up migrant workers.

0:54:290:54:31

Anna Politkovskaya,

0:54:370:54:38

the leading reporter of human rights abuses in Chechnya, was murdered.

0:54:380:54:43

On a visit to the West, Putin was asked about her.

0:54:460:54:50

Among those who had warned Politkovskaya

0:55:100:55:13

that she risked assassination

0:55:130:55:15

was Alexander Litvinenko, an ex-FSB officer.

0:55:150:55:19

He had fled to Britain with his family,

0:55:190:55:21

claiming persecution by his old agency.

0:55:210:55:24

He had accused them of ordering political murders.

0:55:240:55:28

Litvinenko became a British citizen.

0:55:490:55:52

Ten days later he was poisoned with radioactive polonium.

0:55:520:55:56

Another former FSB officer, Andrei Lugovoi, was the main suspect.

0:55:590:56:04

This could hardly be more serious.

0:56:070:56:08

A British citizen had been murdered

0:56:080:56:11

on British streets by someone

0:56:110:56:14

who our own independent prosecuting authorities thought

0:56:140:56:17

had deep links into the Russian state.

0:56:170:56:20

It felt like a reversion to the worst of the Cold War.

0:56:200:56:23

Britain requested Lugovoi's extradition.

0:56:240:56:28

When Moscow refused it, Britain expelled four of their diplomats.

0:56:280:56:32

The British Intelligence Service, MI6,

0:56:320:56:35

stopped working with Russia's spy agencies.

0:56:350:56:37

We weren't trying to sort of knee Vladimir Putin in the goolies,

0:56:370:56:42

that was not the purpose of this.

0:56:420:56:44

It was a much more substantive state-to-state response

0:56:440:56:48

that tried to bring home the seriousness of this,

0:56:480:56:51

that recognised that Russia

0:56:510:56:53

wanted an honourable place in the international community of nations

0:56:530:56:57

but if it was going to have that, it couldn't behave in this way.

0:56:570:57:01

Russia countered by stopping

0:57:020:57:03

all counterterrorist cooperation with Britain.

0:57:030:57:07

After three months, David Miliband asked for a meeting

0:57:070:57:11

with the Russian foreign minister at the United Nations.

0:57:110:57:15

My goodness, it was a tough start. I went in on a football analogy.

0:57:280:57:34

I was talking to him about which football team he supported

0:57:340:57:36

but I got very short shrift on that.

0:57:360:57:38

We knew that there was a bar in the Russian constitution on extradition,

0:57:580:58:02

and so, we were clear that while it was a reasonably big ask,

0:58:020:58:06

it was not unreasonable to say that they should change their constitution

0:58:060:58:10

to make possible this sort of judicial cooperation.

0:58:100:58:13

His response was that this was inconceivable.

0:58:130:58:16

Russia was Russia and there was no way they were going change.

0:58:160:58:20

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:480:58:50

E-mail [email protected]

0:58:500:58:52

Vladimir Putin, after eight years as president of Russia and four more as prime minister, is stubbornly holding on to power. He has announced his intention to return as president and declared his party the winner in parliamentary elections that are widely seen as fraudulent. In Moscow 100,000 protesters have taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since Putin took office.

Putin began his career as a KGB spy but when he became president, he made himself a valued ally of the West. How did he do it? And what made Washington and London turn against him?

The second episode includes an extraordinary interview with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, who was widely thought to be responsible for murder, corruption and sanctions-busting. He tells how, in the 2004 election, he set about getting his chosen successor elected president - with the help of Putin and his Kremlin advisers. The opposition candidate, Victor Yushchenko, tells what it was like to be poisoned during the election campaign. It won him many voters and exit polls gave him a clear lead, but the Putin/Kuchma-backed candidate was still declared the winner. This result sparked the Orange Revolution.

Kremlin officials tell how they made sure that Putin would not face a similar revolution at home. It is claimed critics of Putin, including the British ambassador, were intimidated and some were even murdered. Tens of thousands of young Russians were mobilised to fight the threat of democracy.