18/06/2013 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.

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The Taliban take up scissors for their deant. But was it worth all


the deaths of thousands upon thousands of Afghan civilians and


coalition troops to achieve talks without preconditions. Should


incompetent bankers face criminal charges. Will tomorrow's Banking


Commission report really revolutionise financial services?


Normally I would throw in some white wine now. Nigel la Lawson's


husband has accepted a caution for assaulting her. Is this the real


picture of domestic violence. We meet the oligarch reputed to be


Russia's richest man. Good evening, almost 12 years after the US


coalition forces ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan, at least one


faction of it is to hold direct talks from the delegation from


Hamid Karzai's Government and US official as early as Thursday, in


their first overseas office in Qatar. The announcement was made on


the day NATO formally handed over all security to the Afghan


Government forces. It has been a long and bloody battle. Tens of


thousands of Afghan civilians have died. 2,238 US personnel, and 444


UK servicemen and women. President Obama has cautioned against


expectations of quick progress, anticipating a lot of bumps in the


road. First of all, these bumps in the


road, what are the pitfalls we can expect? All sorts of things, really,


there has been an unhappy history of trying to get these talks


together. Many false starts. One incident that happened in 2011 was


the head of the high council for reconciliation in Afghanistan, the


same job holder, if you like, who will go to the talks in Qatar, was


murdered by a bomb placed by somebody who he thought was a


Taliban leader coming to talk to him. Many false starts. Then there


is the issue of how many people fighting in the countryside are


really loyal to this group who have today announced these talks. The


called Quetasura of the Taliban. NATO have said 75% of the people


they were involved of fighting with live within five miles of their own


home. They are not foreign Jihadists, they are local people


with a local sense of grievance. There are other groups other than


this, the called Hakani network and other Islamic groups. Would they


come along with a deal? These are all big questions and they have to


be answered as soon as these talks begin in ernest. The G8 summit


ended in Northern Ireland with a distinct feeling of being upstaged.


As the leaders had just about managed to sketch broad consensus


on topics from tax to Syria, news was coming in of a dramatic turn in


the long-running Afghanistan campaign. Peace talks opening with


the Taliban. I have long argued that we need to match the security


response in Afghanistan with a political process to try to make


sure that as many people as possible give us violence, give up


armed struggle and join the political process. And that is


exactly what I hope can happen with elements of the Taliban. That is


the point of the Taliban office in Doha in Qatar, and that is the


point of the discussions that the Americans will have.


Across the world in Qatar Taliban representatives chose this day to


open their new office, complete with ribbon cutting. Previous


attempts to start a peace process with this gulf emirate hosting


negotiations had failed. But the objections have finally been put to


one side. TRANSLATION: Now you know that Afghanistan's problem has two


aspects, foreign and domestic. The most important important aspect is


foreign, because they are under the control of the occupation, when


occupation ends, goodwilling, things will move forward.


movement went as far as to say it The Americans' reaction was


positive, if a little brusque. is good news, we are very pleased


with what has taken place, thanks. While in Kabul it was announced


that NATO troops had handed the leadership of combat operations to


President Karzai's Government. TRANSLATION: From tomorrow all


forms of security from around the country will be led by our own


security and defence forces. I'm announcing this to my countrymen


that in the next month the fifth and final step of security


transition will start. It has been apparent for months that NATO


forces were moving into the background. Indeed, during a visit


to Helmand Province earlier this year, we found that British


soldiers were quickly pulling out of their bases, hardly patrolling


outside the wire and effectively considered their combat mission to


be over. What we have moved to now is a situation where the Afghan


security forces really are in the lead doing all this work for


themselves. We have reduced our profile to such an extent that we


don't do ground combat-type operations any more. This drawing


down by NATO has given the Taliban the necessary signal that what they


term "the foreign occupation" of their country, is indeed ending.


Now NATO commanders will look on as talks begin in Qatar with the


Americans and the Taliban at the table, but with President Karzai's


representatives in the driving seat. My perspective has always been that


this war will have to end with a political reconciliation, and so I


frankly would be supportive of any positive movement in terms of


reconciliation, particularly an Afghan-led and owned process that


would bring reconciliation between the Afghan people and the Taliban,


in the context of the Afghan constitution. There is much that


can still go wrong, and fighting is bound to continue in parts of the


country. But today's opening offers the most important chance for more


than a decade of starting a constructive peace process. Or is


today's announcement an admission of defeat. In Washington is Kurt


Volker the United States permanent representative to NATO from 2008/09.


John Reid, a Labour former cab minister, who served as Defence


Secretary from 2005/06, and Rudra Chaudhuri from the Department of


War Studies at King's College London. He travelled as part of a


group last year to meet former senior members of the Taliban and


explore the possibilities for negotiations. First of all, we


could have got here a lot faster if we were going to eventually


negotiate without any pre- conditions. 2007 Gordon Brown said


there was no talks and MI6 were talking. Why the delay? Two things,


the first is the purpose of going into Afghanistan was to protect the


British people. And for 1 years, and the people of the west, to de--


11 years, and the people of the west, and they denied Al-Qaeda a


base from which to launch attacks. It was the credit to our forces and


those of the rest of the NATO forces in there that we have


achieved that. The second thing is that all conflicts end in political


discussions, but the timing is not predictable. It usually happens


when one, or both sides recognise there is no military victory. I


think it is significant that today the Taliban have been willing toe


come to the table. You say there is no -- to come to the table. You say


there is no pre-conditions, but the Taliban issued a statement thaiing


in terms they wouldn't allow anyone on their soil to harm anyone


outside the country. That seems to me like a big compromise. We can


talk about what else they might come to the table with. When you


say that negotiations usually happen when nobody wins, you


admitting that we didn't win in Afghanistan? This is not, as


General Rupert Smith once said the idea that these conflicts will end


with a victory parade is to misunderstand the conflict. The


victory was in defying and denying Al-Qaeda the attempt to that which


they did in 9/11, we have done that. Kurt Volker is that your reading of


the situation, is this the right time to be talking to the Taliban?


Look there is never a wrong time to be willing to talk. If you want to


try to resolve a problem it is always good to talk to your


opponents. We are doing this from a position of weakness now. The


Taliban has been willing to fight and die in order to control its


country, or what it sees as its country for the last 12 years. We


have demonstrated we are not willing to do that. In fact we have


been getting out. So the Taliban knows it is going to get what it


wants, one way or another. Whether we give it to them at a negotiating


table, or whether they just continue to use the negotiations as


a vehicle and keep fighting. What do you think the American people


feel about that. Do they feel it was worth it to get Al-Qaeda out of


Afghanistan? Yes. I think there are a couple of things. If you look at


public opinion, one of them is they are tired of being in Afghanistan


in general. We don't see the point of being there any more. Secondly,


I think that they feel that, yes, indeed, Al-Qaeda is no longer using


this territory, why should we be there, Al-Qaeda has moved on to


Mali, to Somalia, to Yemen, why be tied down in Afghanistan. Plus we


have work to do at home. The dang, I feel, is there is a great risk --


danger, I feel, is the great risk is despite what the Taliban say, is


they will impose their rule on Afghanistan in the minimum if not


the entire country, and it will be very difficult for them not to


provide a home to the Pakistani Taliban. Rudra Chaudhuri you were


an outrider or an early group talking to a faction of the Taliban.


That point there that they will take hold in southern Afghanistan


again. There is that, secondly, are the Afghan forces sufficient to the


task of making sure they don't. Thirdly, if I can do that, are you


sure that some of the Afghan forces won't turn any way towards the


Taliban? If I take the questions, the first point is we need to be


very clear that we are dealing with a very slim minority within a very


large majority of what we call the Taliban. That is danger in itself?


It is dangerous but optimistic, you would rather be speaking to


somebody rather than nobody. That needs to be tempered. The work we


did with former Taliban figures of a political variety, politically


motivated within a big movement, that today's largely controlled by


the military, from what we understand. That needs to be taken


in measure. On the question of will the Taliban come back to


Afghanistan the way they did in the 1990s? I think the Taliban, or at


least the ones we are speaking to are clear that is not going to


happen. They are a slim faction of the Taliban? They are, from what we


can understand. Absolutely. I just think, are they in any position to


deliver a guarantee that there will be no Al-Qaeda on the soil, or


indeed that there will be equal rights for women given that last


week we were talking about 150 girls being gassed in a Kabul


school? It really is hope over expectation isn't it? I think we


need to role back a little here. The negotiations haven't even begun,


this is the beginning of a dialogue process. You have certain elements


willing to talk. You have come it a position where both sides have


recognised. The Americans included, that military victory is out of the


options. What do they want?This slim representation would want some


political control within Afghanistan, that is not


necessarily a terrible thing, given there is a tacit recognition that


the Taliban aren't going away. Dr Chaudhuri says, this is a slim


faction of the Taliban, ones that are politically motivated, not


militarily motivated? There is one, and there is the Hakani group and


various other groups as well. They do have a degree of democratic


legitimacy, in the widest sense of that word, in the sense of having


support among the Taliban. Look the key question is this, would you


have got an agreement with the IRA or anyone else, if the pre-


condition was you will surrender and you will publicly announce that


you will accept all our conditions? No. Secondly is it going to be a


long process? Yes it is. Have they, in the course of this, sent a


signal today, and I mentioned it earlier, which is no-one inside our


soil will be able to hand those outside. That is their quid pro quo


for the Americans saying we won't ask you to mention the Taliban.


Kurt Volker, do you think that the American people are going to go


along with this idea. President Obama's idea that there will be


many, many bumps in the road. This may be very protracted negotiations


and there may be further violence. I think unfortunately I would say,


unfortunately the American people are prepared to go along with that,


I think the conclusion has been reached here, we are more


interested in nation building at home than nation building in


Afghanistan. Whether it means a degradation in governance or an end


to women's rights or children's violence, the public perception is


that is not our problem. That is interesting interested that what


America was fighting for was freedom for all. That has just gone


out the window. This is a pure pragmatisim? It is, what I would


say is we made great gains in Afghanistan, and you mentioned some


of them over the last 12 years. The real risk is these are now all on


the table to either be negotiated away, or taken away by the Taliban.


I think that with a further commitment over a period of time we


would have been able to stablise this, but that moment has probably


gone. I disagree with that to some extent, for two reasons. Coming


back to the original point, this may be a slim faction of the


Taliban, but it is a very important faction of the Taliban. It is the


old Taliban from the 1980s and 1990s, they have a great amount of


spiritual power. That needs to be kept in mind. The window of


opportunity sceptics would argue was 18 months, but the fact of the


matter, and Lord Reid knows better than most is negotiations take time,


pre-conditions need to be worked out. You have two sides on the


table willing to talk. On the women's rights and human rights,


you are absolutely right, I agree with the colleague from the United


States, maybe it is all up for grabs. The optimist in me would say


two things, there is evidence of senior former Taliban leaders today


who have taken a reformist position, there are girls' schools protect, a


women's college set up by a former senior Taliban minister. The


Taliban is a different beast today, and they recognise that. It has to


take on a certain liberal position because Afghanistan is not the same


as in the 1990s. In a moment: I'm about to meet my


first Russian oligarch. Russia's richest mantles us about his


passion for Faberge eggs. Now the coalition Government promised to


clean out the banking system after the failures of many senior figures


from RBS's Fred Goodwin to Lord Denis Stevenson of HBOS. The


parliamentary commission on banking standards, set up by George Osborne


last July is due to report tomorrow. The report apparently contains a


section about resistance to reform, and a series of recommendations to


put a rocket under their governance. What have we learned tonight?


report is under embargo for midnight plus one minute. But the


newspapers which we have here have printed the gist of it. And the


gist actually is something that will probably raise a cheer in many


a pub. But not a cheer in many a bank boardroom. It is simply


bankers who do wrong should be jailed. It is the idea that you


give specific responsibility to specific people in banks, so you


are the guy who is there to stop us rigging LIBOR, if we do that you


get sacked, banned or in the Washington Post case go to jail.


This is one massive change of focus. This is just a committee in


parliament. I was going to say, there may be a cheer in the pub,


but it may be a hollow cheer, because will any of this actually


happen? It is this committee has actually gone rogue. It wasn't set


up to do a lot of this, it is chaired by a prominent Conservative


MP, it has set an agenda about naming and also bringing what you


might call a Conservative agenda to this, for example, personal


responsibility. We focused for five years on structure and restructure


in the banking sector. Has I have been finding out today, this change


of emphasis is in the air because essentially many people think that


the structural changes that we have done so far just won't work on


their own. A brief history of British banking in the last ten


years would include the following, banks mis-sold payment protection


insurance and now us about �12 billion. Then a series of


catastrophic management errors led to the collapse of Northern Rock,


Bradford & Bingley, and the nationalisation of RBS, HBOS and


Lloyd's. The taxpayer bailed them out to the tune of �133 billion,


the Bank of England printed �375 billion, which it gave to the banks,


but they didn't lend very much to British business. Then they were


found out manipulating the world's most fundamental interest rate,


LIBOR. If, surveying the recent history of


banking, finance and insurance, you come to the conclusion that the


whole thing might be something of a scam, perpetrated on its customers


by an unaccountable elite, then from tomorrow you are not alone.


MPs and peers look set to go further than any Government has


ever gone in stating that the industry has failed and needs even


bigger reform. At the heart of the problem is what to do about bankers


who fail. Fred Goodwin walked away with his pension, Sir James Crosby


kept his Knighthood until forced to hand it back. Bob Diamond, the boss


of Barclays departed after the LIBOR-fixing scandal cost the bank


$340 million in fines. The report will call for bank bosses to serve


jail time if they fail to run their businesses correctly that goes way


beyond Labour or the coalition has demanded and will change the


culture of the City big time. Would jailing people do any good? Banking


is a trust business, it is important that customers see that


individual responsibility is held to. But, this isn't and never was


about a few bad apple, and jailing a few misbehaving bankers, this is


about a whole system that was going wrong because of add incentive and


structural problems. And the more important question is are those


going to get addressed as well as holding individuals to account?


the meantime there is the sticky problem about what to do about the


banks the taxpayer owns. Tomorrow George Osborne is set to announce


his plans for RBS and Lloyd's group to be privatised and where else to


announce it but at an invite-only audience of bankers in bowties. But


parliament too will want a say. The MPs' report tomorrow is likely to


call for RBS to be broken up. They will call for a new effort by the


competition authorities to break the stranglehold on the high street


of the four big banks. To really improve the structure of the UK


industry we need to have many new entrant banks coming in, that is


beginning to happen. We need to grow the community banking sector,


including Credit Unions, that is beginning to happen. To really have


an impact at scale we have to ask ourselves a question, what is the


best thing for the whole UK economy to do with RBS. That might include


breaking it up into regional banks, it might include keeping it in


public ownership and giving it a mandate to focus on SMEs, we have


to focus on all those options. until now the solutions proposed


for the British banking industry have been structural, separate this


bit from that bit, impose new capital controls, but if MPs'


recommendations tomorrow are acted upon, we could see, for the first


time, a top banker being jailed. Though whether the fear of ending


up in Wormwood scrubs would have stopped the sub-prime crisis is


anybody's guess. I'm joined now by Martin Jacomb, a former Barclays


Deputy Chairman. Elissa Bayer the senior investor, and Laura


Willoughby chief executive of the campaign Move Your Money.


Sir Martin, this is coming because of an avalanche of disaster,


billions of pounds of tax-payers' gone. Manipulated LIBOR, man lip


lated key rates and mis-selling, nobody held responsible. The


banking sector has itself to blame hasn't it? To say that nobody is


responsible, nobody has been found responsible is incorrect. But for


your talking about yesterday's disasters, all the banks, all the


major banks now are run by different people, with a different


ethos and the bad apples are no longer in charge. You say it is


yesterday's crisis and the bad apples are no longer in charge,


presumably then if there is indeed in this report a recommendation


that charges be brought against bankers who are incompetent and


they would then going to jail do you think that would be a fitting


pun --ment if there are further problems? I haven't read the report.


None of us have it is midnight? don't know what it says. I'm all in


favour of people who make big mistakes with other people's money


getting into personal liability. And going to jail? Going to jail is


completely out of the question right now. Because first of all you


have to find an individual guilty of some crime. So let's talk about


liability rather than going to jail. Which is well overdramatising it.


Would you like to see, as it were, bad bankers going to jail?


Certainly bankers should be taking responsibility for their actions,


we believe that very strong loo. We have seen huge numbers of people's


lives affected by their decisions. You can take responsibility for


your actions and just resign, it doesn't help people get their money


back, if there is the threat of incarceration that would bring a


chill and actually would perhaps make sure that some of the boards


and some of the individual bankers and committees don't act


irresponsibly? Absolutely, there should be prosecutions and for the


mistakes already made, people should know when they are making


big decisions with other people's money there is a responsibility and


there are consequences. actually I'm right in saying


recommended the Co-Op bank? We did, it is one of many banks. It was top


of your list, and look what's happened to them, that model isn't


right, the Mutual isn't right either? Mutuals are better, Co-Op


has found its own solution, more importantly it shows just growing


and growing and growing our banks until they become so big isn't the


answer. Actually what we need are local banks committed to growing


the local economy, lending. The five big banks aren't lending to


businesses at the minute, or not offering much to the economy. If we


want to change banking in Britain we need to change the structure in


banking and get them lending locally again. Small banks will be


our saviours. Do you think there is a different structure, a new model


perhaps we haven't thought of yet? Probably we are going back in time,


having spent as much time as Sir Martin in the City. You grew the


bank the way you move your joint clearing banks, our ordinary high


street banks and moved them together with the investment banks.


What I think has happened is it is not working, it hasn't working, you


are looking at two different cultures and two different ways of


operating. Separation is the answer? To some extent you have to


get back to what ordinary banking is, people in the street they need


it, someone to talk to. We have gone away from that. Do you think


separation is the answer? No I don't, first of all let me say when


people talk about prosecuting bankers and sending them to jail,


that's a last resort. What's really important is they are responsible


with their own money to repay some of the liability. So talking about


personal liability for people running banks is much more relevant


about talking about jail? What about separating investment?


don't believe that, if you talk about separation in this economy,


and money isn't flowing to business because banks are not lending. The


reason is because they are required to hold masses of capital and they


can't get any new capital and therefore they have to restrict


lending. So what you need to do to substitute for that is what happens


in the United States which is that the capital markets provide the


funds for business, and that comes from the investment banking


operations. And if you want it working really well, you get the


commercial bankers and the big banks to say to their investment


banking colleagues and the investment banking division this is


an opportunity for you to issue bonds on behalf of a company that


need money. Is that a solution for you? No. At the moment the big


banks have Government money to lend to businesses, they are still not


doing it. There is something fundamentally wrong with our system.


We need banks to get back to where they should be, which is keeping


people's money safe and listening to customers. At the moment there


is no proportion. People put money in accounts to see it grow, and if


it is not growinging perhaps they think actually having some of the


investment bankers doing a lot of work with the money they can lend,


what would be wrong with that? balance has tipped in the wrong way.


They are more interested to use money to make more money. We are


saying at the moment there is no competition in the market, there is


no incentive to be nice to customers at the other end, treat


them well, make sure that they are lending, make sure that they are


helping people save. Making sure they are growing the local economy.


Is there a moral position the banks should be forced to take about that,


that they should be doing good deeds, as it were, for their


customers? I don't think they would put it quite like that. You need


money going back into industry and customers. What you have got at the


moment is a terrific lack of confidence in your bankers, that I


think is veryed bad. That is undermining what is going on.


do you restore confidence in bankers, the same breed as other


people, and yet they are not trusted? I think what they have


done has made people mistrust bankers, I think what they do


essentially is a good job. The idea is to put money into the economy to


lend to businesses, that is all very positive. But in what's


happened since say 22008 they have lost confidence in their bankers.


You have the same bank since you were 16 haven't you? I have had had


an account with the, what's now the NatWest bank, part of RBS, I have


had it since I was 16 years old, which is a very, very many decades


ago. Why do you trust them?If I could just interrupt you, one of


the things I would like to see improved comes from right here and


the other media. Mervyn King the retiring Governor of the Bank of


England said last month, and not a moment to soon -- too soon that it


was time to stop demonising bankers, as long as people do that they


can't behave like bankers. If more senior bankers would come on


television programmes and explain themselves they would appear more


transparent? I don't think transparency is particularly


important, what happened is a lot of very big mistakes were made,


they were made in the past, the changes in management have been


made and it is time to get on with lending money to business. Charles


Saatchi, advertising mogul, gallery owner has been cautioned for


assaulting his wife, the famous TV personality, Nigella Lawson, his


hands on her throat. We don't know if they very public display of


domestic violence goes on in private. The disturbing images will


resonate with women who have had to suffer abuse at the hands of their


partner. This is beautiful.What some people found so shocking is


Nigella Lawson is portrayed and portrays herself as a woman very


much in charge of her life, her work and her image, confident and


happy, a par gone of domestic police. But pick -- paragone of


domestic bliss. But pictures give a lie to that. She is said to be


abroad considering her future. The assault, like that of Rihanna and


Cheryl Gascoigne, has raised the profile of domestic violence again,


and demonstrates that the rich and famous are not immune. According to


the 2011/12 crime survey, 1.2 million women were victims of


domestic abuse last year in England and Wales. The same survey found


that 31% of women experienced domestic abuse at some point after


the age of 16. Joining me now is the research manager scat ap


respect Charity working with perpetrators of domestic violence


and Hadley Freeman, an author on domestic violence. Is it shocking


because she, Nigella Lawson, is the domestic violence, and how could


somebody so rich and successful be in such a shocking position?


much of her career has been presenting this image of domestic


bliss, she can bake cakes with the beautiful house, the Aga and happy


children. It is not shocking it has happened to her because she's rich


and famous, there are many women throughout history, Tina Turner,


Lana Turner and now Rihanna. Domestic violence is not for women


in a certain class, there are no limits with religion, ethnicity and


class, it happens across the spectrum. Would it be fair to say


that for women who are rich or middle-class there are places they


can go to hide it more than people who do not have that financial


wherewithal? Certainly. But women stay with their abusers for more


reasons than just practicalities. Interesting, we must be clear about


it, we have no idea what else has happened in their relationship,


what we do know is Charles Saatchi took the caution. But he also


called it "a playful tiff" what signal does that send out? One of


the depressing things about that comment is how common it is. Most


men that I have worked with and my colleagues who I spoke today would


confirm with, saying it was a tiff it didn't matter, it was nothing, I


it didn't matter, it was nothing, I was just pushing against the wall,


was just pushing against the wall, it was fall -- up against the wall,


that was just that. Saying it was just a tiff is a common pattern of


justification. So people we work with will typically minimise, deny


or blame somebody else for the things they have done. And they


will very often do this even today when the behaviour they have used


is quite dangerous. You work with perpetrators of domestic violence


generally, you know about some of these often repeated phrases. When


we have a case and this could be a one-off we don't know, which is


quite as startling as this, what impact does it have on the


conversations that you have with people? I expect one of the things


that will happen over the next few days, which often does, when there


is a case like this, is calls to the Respect phone line, where


people can phone if there are concerns about behaviour will go up.


That happens when there is storylines on soap opera or real-


life incidents. Although it can seem strange it is a good thing, it


is a positive step to recognise you have a problem with your behaviour.


What is interesting about this particular case, which we won't


comment on in detail, I know, but being able to minimise it as just a


tiff is very common, but also one way of evading, being able to take


responsibility for it is not take advantage of the help there is.


There is help available for men and the some women who want to stop


being abusive to their partners. It is not the only way and people can


change. What will be the impact on women and children seeing that


image? I think it is terrifying. I'm amazed that some columnists


have expressed amazement that this could happen to middle-class


successful woman. The idea it is limited to the working-classes is


disgusting and snoby, it is a very snoby attitude of some middle-class


columnists and media commentators thinking this is an "other" problem.


It is a widely held belief? Part of the problem is you don't see


middle-class women in popular culture being abused, we see it in


EastEnders, and the odd novel we see middle-class and upper-class


women being abused but rarely TV shows. Because this is a public


event, let's move away from this one and talk with Rihanna and Chris


Brown, they went back together. What messages do people get from


society? They are always very complex situations, but that was a


straight down the line, he beat her up, she went back? That is a very


common thing. As I'm sure you will agree. You look at history, Tina


Turner stayed with Ike for years and years, women stay with their


abusers for years for a whole shrew of reasons. The idea I found


upsetting when women would get upset with Rihanna for staying with


Chris Brown and as if she should be better. It doesn't place


responsibility on the person causing the problem. The blame gets


placed on the victim, as an organisation we try 0 make sure


responsibility lies where it should, with the cause of the problem. So


too often we see this, we see people, women who are victims of


domestic violence being blamed and held responsible, Rihanna is a good


case, she got a lot of vitriol from female fans or not fans, rather


than responsibility placed on Chris Brown, which is extraordinary. One


of the things we do when working with guys who have maybe never


admitted it properly before, we try to make it possible for them to be


able to say they did it, it was bad and they need to take


responsibility for it. Thank you very much indeed. Before the end of


the programme we will have tomorrow's front page, first we


know three things about Russian oligarchs, one, they are incredibly


rich, two, they sometimes end up in exile or jail, and three, possibly


connected to one or two, they almost never talk. But Viktor


Vekselberg, called the richest man in Russia, with a fortune estimated


$18 billion, has given a rare and exclusive interview to Steven Smith,


he talked about Putin, being unbelievably rich, and the


oligarch's passion for the lost treasures of the Tsars, the Faberge


Eggs. In a strong room, somewhere in


London, the lost treasures of the - - Tsars. Faberge Eggs, some of the


most priceless pieces in the History of Art. The Tsar of Russia


gave them to his wife and mother as Easter gifts. But these imperial


eggs, as they are known, aren't mere historical curiosities,


centuries after they were created by July Carl Faberge, they are


symbols of wealth and prestige in the new Russia and the oligarchs.


Their new owner has been called the richest man in Russia, he paid a


fortune for them. His people have let me look and touch, now I'm


going to Russia to find him if I can.


He is based here in Moscow. He bought nine imperial Faberge eggs


from the Forbes Foundation in New York, in a private deal in 2004.


One of his people told me if I came to this hotel in the city centre in


one hour he would see me. I'm about to meet my first Russian oligarch.


From the outside the hotel does little to advertise its connection


with the city's new rich. Unless you count the idling motorcade of


police 4X4s. I'm meeting my oligarch in a bunker, two floors


below street level, surrounded by some of his art collection. His


name is Viktor Vekselberg, he is said to be worth more than $15


billion. Just between us, how much did you pay for those Faberge Eggs?


There is a slightly more than $100 million. Was it worth it?If you


ask me what price for that, really for me it is absolutely difficult


to say to you what it is. Do you have a warm glow inside? Absolutely,


I have this warm glow, yes. Vekselberg controls one of Russia's


largest oil and gas companies. And negotiated the biggest joint


venture in Russian history with our own BP. I would like to take the


opportunity to say thank you to BP because I used part of that money


for cultural, art facts and collections. Other people in your


position might have bought something else, I don't know, like


a football club in London? I don't see it as negative for some Russian


rich men to buy a football club, why not, but Faberge Eggs, this is


part of Russian history and culture. And culture is something that


Vekselberg likes to invest in. He created a foundation, The Link of


Times, to look after his artwork. Do you live fairly modestly,


because you could obviously indulge any whim you have, you could have a


dozen helicopters if you wanted to? Absolutely, but I don't have time


for toys. It is I'm a busy man. Vekselberg prefers reading and


collecting. In living memory, many of his art facts of preSoviet


Russia would have been despised as the play things of the ruling class.


Now we are seen as part of the the story of the Russian nation state


rediscovering her history. As President Putin -- has President


Putin thanked him for buying back Faberge Eggs? Yes I see it is


emotional for our President, it is very important for for Russian


citizens to bring back this huge collection. Russia has huge stories


with a lot of art facts, big culture. This is a piece of that.


Some may feel that Russia has come full circle in a way, and that once


again the country is dominated by a small group of people who have a


disproportionate share of the wealth? On the one hand you are


right. If we compare with the situation in Russia 25 years ago,


the socialist time, of course everybody was equals. My parents


were ordinary people and lived in a small apartment, we broke one


system and we just started to build a new system. And we Russians we


are very young, the new Russia like 20 years, so it is only one


generation. Of course today we have some negative results of that


transition period. We will have some big gap between the small


group of rich men and the biggest part of the population not being so


wealthy. But this is a process, I believe, this is a gap that will be


reduced and reduced, and small businesses, middle-sized businesses


will grow and the gap will be smaller and smaller. But it takes


time. I believe we are going in the right direction. What is it like


being one of the world's richest men? You ask a very difficult


question. I think all the times people ask what does it mean to be


wealthy? A lot of us dream of having a lot of money, rightly or


wrongly, and you are living the dream, as they say? It doesn't


matter Russia or in another country, so people don't like rich people. I


have money but the question is how I use this opportunity? It is not


easy, believe me, it is not easy. I'm an industrialist, I'm a


businessman. It is very critical and important for Russia to keep


the Russian economy from the raw material industry, it is not easy


of the. It has needed a lot of efforts and a lot of patience,


because this takes time. I do what I can do. But this is all my social


obligation, I put my time, I put my money and I try to do the best with


what I can. This may be my answer for your question, how I would like


to spend money. I tried to see my country better and my people with


more happiness. Fair enough, but it is not always a safe thing to be


the richest guy in town, is it also a bit scary. Does it make you


vulnerable? Now in Russia it is reasonably a table country, it is


not so hugely criminal. I don't feel the big, big risk to be in


Russia now. At the Kremlin, where Stalin once


ordered that the treasures of the Tsars were flogged off to raise


cash. Faberge's finest are now proudly displayed a short walk from


President Putin's office. Carl Faberge's hard-boiled eggs have


become instruments of soft power. But the richest man in Russia,


helping to restore them to the motherland is in the national


interest and his own. Steven Smith told me to egg you on to see his


full documentary, The World's Most Beautiful Eggs, on BBC Four next


At the close of the G8 the group of the most powerful men and one woman


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