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Boris Titov - Party of Growth, Russia

Stephen Sackur speaks to Boris Titov, leader of Russia's Party of Growth. Does Russia need reform rather than authoritarianism?


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55% of the ballot.

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It's just gone half past

four in the morning.

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Now on BBC News it's

time for HARDtalk.

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Welcome to HARDtalk I Stephen

Sackur. Seven candidates are

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challenging Vladimir Putin in this

month's Russian presidential

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election. Not one of them has a hope

of victory. To all intents and

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purposes, this is a show election to

confirm the popularity and power of

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Vladimir Putin. But is there a

danger for Russia in this

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urbanisation of politics? My guest

is one of the seven hatless are that

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candidates. Boris Titov, a Vladimir

Putin appointee for business. Does

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Russia need reform rather than

authoritarianism? Party of

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-- Boris Titov in Moscow, welcome to

HARDtalk. . You are going to be in

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the election that comes ahead in

just a few days from now. To the

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outside world, it looks at the

charade, a mockery of a democratic

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process. Is that the way it feels to

you?

No, it is a democratic process

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because we are all by our own world

participating in it. But of course

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the popularity of Vladimir Putin is

very high, and that is why we, of

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course, understand that the chances

are very low. Our chances are very

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low.

You are not really a serious

candidate, are you? Because during

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the course of the campaign, you have

said that as hang on...

I am a

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serious man. I am a businessman. By

the way a British businessman.

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Because I started my career and 89

in London.

Yes, well... Two 1989. In

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99. You said ombudsman. Not a

serious man. I don't think is

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serious man could handle this job.

It is a serious job. You said I am

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that it hidden's ombudsman. The fact

is yes. But, I mean, in reality, I

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am protecting the rights of

businessman from the state of

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Russia. Because in very many cases,

are - they're using administrative

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law, criminal law, corruption. So I

am protecting our businessmen from

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the Russian state.

Boris Titov, I

would want to get to your job. But

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even want to offend you. I didn't

want to say you were a serious man,

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what wanted to say you were not a

serious candidate. The Rizzo said

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that is because you have publicly

said, you know, but it didn't is the

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toughest politician of our day. --

Lammy Purdon is the toughest

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politician Barrett day.

-- Vladimir

Putin. Of course he has a great

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strength against us. But ever

understand is why we are

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participating in these elections.

Us, it is very important, this move.

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We were thinking as a group of

businessman in our union of non- oil

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business of Russia, who are

supporting me. And we were thinking

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prolonged time to go for the

selection or not, but we decided to

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do it. Why? Because we need to

promote our ideas. The idea that we

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have is a strategy for Russia. We

are the best macroeconomic and

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scientists in Russia and developed a

programme and this is a very

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profound programme. A real strategy.

We prepared it for two years. The

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main idea is that we have to change

the economy of Russia. We have to go

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from today's oil economy, resource

economy, to a real market economy.

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We had to promote small and medium

businesses. We have two promote

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industrial, technological

businesses. We have two make the

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country know about that.

Yes, but

the point... Let me stop you, let me

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stop you for a second. You say you

are full of important economic lives

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is due to make I'm sorry. No, don't

worry. You tell about these ideas of

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modernising Russia, and you say that

you, I can make this point, you note

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the election is a stride. But it

Purdon has not released a manifesto.

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-- Vladimir Putin. It is not regard

you are serious. The in the Kremlin

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wanted for you and others...

Let me

finish my point.

You were to stand

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as a figleaf to give the impression

that they were some sort of choice.

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I am sorry. The Kremlin did not want

me to stand. The only question that

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I asked the Kremlin, because I am

working in the Kremlin

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administration, so the only thing

which I asked was it would be a

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conflict of interest. Allow to leave

my day to day job to run for the

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election? They said, OK, we thought

it was not a conflict of interest,

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science still giving the job and

going for a elections. Otherwise, I

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would have to decide, because it is

a big chance that I would have left

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the job to run for the elections.

Alexei Navalny is by far the most

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prominent opposition voice in Russia

today. He wanted to run in the

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election. He was barred from running

on the basis of a conviction on

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jumped up charges which were

condemned by the European Court of

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Human Rights has been completely

unacceptable, and after that, Alessi

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Davante said to all Russians,

please, do not vote. -- Alexei

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Navalny. He said that it meant

fixing Vladimir Putin's problem by

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helping in disguise his appointment

by making it look like serving like

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a proper election. Why did you not

heed his words?

Because if beverage

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will go for the polls, but it Purdon

will win with 100%. Those who are

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not agreeing with the economic,

don't agree with the economical, if

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they will not go, the country and

Vladimir Putin will think that

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everyone supports him. Even 10% of

people, 15%, 20%, they will come and

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they will say we are voting for

other people as candidates. So we

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will see the picture, the social

picture in Russia, the picture of

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opinions in Russia. So Alexi Diwali,

of course, we can talk about his

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legal situation. Only about 1.5 or

2% of people support him.

With

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respect, your current poll standing

is less than 1%, so...

I won't

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compete with Alexei Navalny. We'll

see final stand. At least in one

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week, you will see our result. Of

course we are not professional

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politicians. We are professional

economists. But anyway, Alexei

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Navalny asked his supporters, and he

had to make them come and vote for

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him or if you can't vote because he

was legally not in the list, but

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there were other possibilities to do

that. So I think that we had to have

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more competition at every social

group supporting any candidate and

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having the right to have very

candidate and to come and vote.

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Boris Titov, we will talk economy,

because that is a real interest. But

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before we do that, we need to talk

about what Vladimir Putin seems to

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regard as the most important message

in the election. And that is his

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message on foreign policy. A

bellicose, assertive, big message to

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the Russian people about restoring

Russian pride and taking on Russia's

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enemies wherever they may be. Do you

support that element of let me

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Purdon's message?

That is not the

message he gives to the Russian

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people. Mostly the message is for

the West. And this message could be

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read as you don't want to talk to us

when we are weak. We think that you

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will talk with us when we will be

strong. I think the perception of

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the situation in the world is

different, between the Western

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Vladimir Putin. He thinks the West

made many mistakes against Russia.

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-- between the West and that it had.

I partly agree with that. Because in

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the 90s, the West did not support

them in the Democrat presses. We

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thought there would be huge

educational programmes. Thousands of

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Russians will go to the West to

learn about democracy and the market

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economy seat done. Of course,

Vladimir Putin considers as not

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understanding of the Russian

interest in the world. -- on the

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market economy.

Sorry to interrupt.

I don't mean to be rude. There is a

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time delay on the line and is the

ant is too long, we will not get

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through all of the important issues

that we need to get through. On this

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point, I am mindful that you are an

opposition candidate tried to remove

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Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. But

your message to the outside world is

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what? That you support his invasion

and annexation of Crimea? That you

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support Russian trips in eastern

Ukraine? That you support the

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intervention... -- Russian troops.

Two I support some things and not

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others.

-- I support something.

Crimea was never Ukrainian. The

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mistake was made by Boris Yeltsin

when they didn't even consider the

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issue of Crimea when they signed the

agreements. Because nobody even

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thought that Crimea is Ukrainian at

that time. And he just let it go

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without any - without even putting -

because he was so fast and hard to

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move these agreements forwards

because he wanted to be the

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president of Russia. He was the

president of Russia, but it was

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Gorbachev who was the president of

the soviet union. In order to push

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through the agreements and just

destroy the soviet union.

I want

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your view on selling top level in

the United Kingdom today. And that

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is the very mysterious illness, the

critical honours, a rational double

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agent in hospital fibrous life

alongside his daughter. Sergei

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Skripal was seen to be working for

the UK, went to Russia, then was

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sent to the UK any spy swap.

That

was not a question, that was a

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position.

Do you think Russia's

response will for what has happened

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to Sergei Skripal?

And have nothing

to do without, and I can say that

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you do not speculate on that. It you

start speculating, even if they did

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not give his declination what

happened. There was no investigation

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about that. Why we should put

everything on the hard side? Why

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should we think about the enemy

psychology from the first thing,

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from the first thing? Will never

agree on anything. We will never

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agree on anything.

We might want to

think about Vladimir Putin's

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responsibilities, because you might

think that in 2010...

You have

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already jetted about that.

Not at

all. Had he respond to this? If you

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don't mind, let me ask the

questions. Back in 2010, at the time

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of the spy swap, Vladimir Putin said

traders were kicked the bucket. They

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have betrayed their friends for 30

pieces of silver and they will choke

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on them. Of course, many people are

wondering whether Vladimir Putin...

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I haven't heard this expression, but

I cannot comment on that. I never

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had anything to do with spy

investigations or spy works. So let

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me free-to be free out of these

questions. I want to talk about the

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economical side. What I will you if

I may, the world is very small.

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Before we talked and signed the

agreements with you, before that,

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Churchill and Stalin signed the

agreement and further agreements

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post-war. For together against their

enemies. Now we need to find ways to

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meet each other.

I understand your

point, Boris Titov, but it is not

0:14:290:14:33

working away, right now, because of

Russia's actions in Ukraine and

0:14:330:14:36

elsewhere.

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When Hughes start your question...

What is the right word in English?

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With accusations and not trying to

find

0:14:490:14:51

With accusations and not trying to

find the right way to find each

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other. Boris Titov, UKIP trying to

tell myself you're an opponent of

0:14:530:15:04

Putin? I am an opponent of Putin but

IME favour of Russia. When I see

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what happened, I have been living in

London for many years. I'd children

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have British passports and what I

see now happening... Did not know

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what to call it, it is a circus or

whatever, that people just do not

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talk to each other, this is complete

nonsense.

You want reform, you want

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to open up the Russian economy,

modernise it and massive

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international investment in Russia

but do you not see it with the

0:15:410:15:44

attitude of Vladimir Putin right

now, you are not going to get any of

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that. You are going to get

sanctions, more international

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isolation and less investment...

Maybe you think like that but with

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more free economy in Russia, there

will be investment and foreign

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investment. The politics are

politics but we know, we're

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practical people, businessmen, we

know that, to the Soviet Union,

0:16:070:16:13

there was foreign investment from

written, they were coming because,

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if there was a trust even at that

time, we can talk, and when we talk

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figures, investments, mutual

projects...

In fact, it is going the

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other way. It is not going the other

way. ExxonMobil just pulled out of a

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major joint venture because of the

sanctions. Both the UN and US are

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talking about strengthening

sanctions.

I just had lunch in

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McDonald's. We have all the main

brands staying in Russia.

I hope you

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enjoyed your burger but the fact

that... I like... And the fact is

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quite simple, you can eat as many

cheeseburgers as you like but

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foreign direct investment in Russia

has plummeted in recent years and

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you are a manner that is supposed to

be advocating...

It is true. It is

0:17:160:17:20

true. We have a big potential in our

possible economical development.

0:17:200:17:27

Russia is a huge possibility of

growth. We are saying we cannot do

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it by ourselves. We have quite a

strong Russian business community.

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We have technologies. A lot of

experts are still working in Russia.

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You are the Ombudsman there, would

you agree with me that for example

0:17:440:17:56

the use of the law and the courts by

big companies to intimidate smaller

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companies, to manipulate...

That's

not right. The biggest problem now

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in Russia is corruption. And threats

from the State to businessmen. Where

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criminal law is used against

companies. We have to protect the

0:18:170:18:22

rights, we have to take people out

of jails because, according to the

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Russian laws, businessmen before the

court could not be jailed. It is a

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recent law. But they are still

jailed. I have just been in London

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and we had the list of Russian

businessmen who have escaped from

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Russia and they are living in

London, Greece, Spain and different

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countries...

Boris Titov at this is

really important. And you are being

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very frank about the degree of

corruption in your country and that

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matters because you are the

Ombudsman the business and it is

0:19:000:19:03

important to businessmen to believe

in their ability to safeguard their

0:19:030:19:08

interests if corruption is corroding

their system. A simple question, the

0:19:080:19:11

youth think Vladimir Putin and his

cronies and France, many from Saint

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Petersburg, are crooked?

I can say I

do not know this. I can say to you,

0:19:170:19:24

I talk to Vladimir Putin about our

strategy of growth. This is our

0:19:240:19:32

programme. And what he did is he

tried to move this way for more

0:19:320:19:38

competition...

I am asking you

whether you believe Vladimir Putin

0:19:380:19:43

is corrupt?

I have never seen any

deals with Putin on corruption. I

0:19:430:19:50

have never seen it anywhere.

Really?

Really! Let me read to you the

0:19:500:19:59

latest Helsinki commission report,

highly respected, on Russian.

0:19:590:20:06

Endemic corruption is a defining

characteristic of the Putin regime

0:20:060:20:09

while the President is the prime

beneficiary, cronies maintain a

0:20:090:20:16

system of corruption. These low

support is necessary to ensure the

0:20:160:20:19

status quo and they often pursue the

governments illicit interests. That

0:20:190:20:25

is the Helsinki commission report

putting the blame on Putin himself.

0:20:250:20:32

Helsinki... I do not know about

Helsinki but they have never seen

0:20:320:20:35

anybody from Putin's Administration

asking for a bribe, at least in

0:20:350:20:45

business. I have never seen, I

cannot comment on that.

You're

0:20:450:20:50

trying to beat Putin in this

election, wouldn't it be worth your

0:20:500:20:59

way at these allegations?

I am

saying we have to work and go

0:20:590:21:06

forward. If we will claim that

everything is bad and this, this,

0:21:060:21:13

and this bash by the way not very

proved. Alexei Navalny's

0:21:130:21:21

accusations... At least I have not

seen the proved by coming back to

0:21:210:21:26

the main idea. We need to go

forward. We understand the problems

0:21:260:21:32

we have in Russia. Corruption. The

main corruption is a huge garden...

0:21:320:21:45

I did not know how to say it in

English... A huge sector of Russian

0:21:450:21:53

society which we call it the Russian

middle-class, which are all

0:21:530:21:59

bureaucrats, you know, the people

from the government and this

0:21:590:22:04

practically middle-class pushes

Russian politics forward. They are

0:22:040:22:12

interesting all the politics in

Russia. -- influencing. They do not

0:22:120:22:20

want peace to go forward because

they relate on that budget salary,

0:22:200:22:24

corruption and we see it every day.

When businessmen are put in jail,

0:22:240:22:29

the next day comes somebody who

says, you want to sit in jail? You

0:22:290:22:34

give some payment to this company

and you will be released.

0:22:340:22:38

Practically 60% of businessmen who

went in jail... We are almost out of

0:22:380:22:44

time... The main problem of Russia

is this corruption.

You have spoken

0:22:440:22:49

frankly about corruption in Russia.

In a few days there will be an

0:22:490:22:56

election and I hate to say this but

you are not going to win, Vladimir

0:22:560:23:00

Putin is going to win. How damaging

will 64 years of let me Putin be?

0:23:000:23:07

This election is not about electing

a president. Speaking honestly. Yes,

0:23:070:23:14

he has a big advantage against all

of us but this election is about how

0:23:140:23:19

Russia will be after the elections.

And who will influence on the

0:23:190:23:25

economy to go to the site of market

competition and for the

0:23:250:23:29

versification of the economy. -- de

versification. The other way is back

0:23:290:23:37

the 90s, backed to the Soviet Union,

I'm afraid to say. This is a very

0:23:370:23:44

possible alternative so we are

fighting for that. That we do not

0:23:440:23:50

Stephen Sackur speaks to Boris Titov, leader of Russia's Party of Growth. Seven candidates are challenging Vladimir Putin in this month's Russian presidential election, but none of them has much hope of victory. To all intents and purposes, this is a show election to confirm the popularity and the power of Mr Putin. But is there danger for Russia in this Putinisation of politics. One of the seven 'other' candidates, Boris Titov, is a Putin appointee as government ombudsman for business. Does Russia need reform rather than authoritarianism?