Kasparov on Nova TV in the Netherlands

by ChessBase
4/25/2007 – Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov is on tour again to promote his book. In Holland he appeared for a fairly extensive interview on Nova TV, Den Haag. Naturally he was questionen on the passing of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, but also on his role in Russian politics. The interview gives some fresh insights and is well worth watching. Partial transcript and link to the TV report.

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The interview with Garry Kasparov, who is in the Netherlands to promote the Dutch edition of his new book, begins slightly beyond the halfway mark in the Nova broadcast. You can see the position of the slider in the first screen capture below.

On the passing of Boris Yeltsin

Yeltsin was a man of great controversy, who loved power and loved freedom, but he could not choose which way to go. He established democratic institutions in Russia, but at the same time he did not touch the "nomenclatura", the all-powerful bureaucracy.

Russia under Yelzin was a state under a dual system of ruling. On one side we had faulted but at least democratic institutions, fair elections, free press. On the other side we had a Byzantine type of beaucracy. Yeltsin's successor had to choose one or the other. By picking Putin, a KGB officer, Yeltsin made his choice. That is why today we have an undemocratic system, a police state.

On his current profession

I am witing books, and have contracts with 19 publishers in different countries, whit 17 languages. I am also doing a lot of lectures.

On his political ambitions

In Russia being a politician is somewhat different than here in the West. Today in Russia we are not fighting to win an election, we are fighting to have an election. It requires different qualities. We have to act in a situation where we do not have simple access to television, or to the mass media, and trying to get around all the restrictions of a police state. That takes time and determination. I am now playing the role of the coordinator of a very broad and fragile coalition of very different groups from the right to the left. It is quite similar to what happened to Chile twenty years ago, when all groups from Socialists to Communists to Christian Democrats got together to defeat Pinochet in a national referendum.

On learning from chess

Whether you do politics, business or anything else you are making decisions. In chess, as I try to explain in my latest book, we do not just make decisions, we have to analyse why certain decisions work and certain decisions fail. In chess you have to go through this very rigorous process of self-examination. I think I learnt enough from my chess career to apply this to any situation. I know you have to be objective. Having no rules in Russian politics is also a rule, and I have to understand that my opponents in this game do not respect any rules. So I have to recognize today that the best strategy for the Russian opposition is survival.

On his personal safety

Nobody is safe in Russia. We are facing a regime that is as brutal as Lukashenko and Mugabe, so Russia belongs to the group of Zimbabwe or Byelorussia, not to the European Union. I personally run less risks than thousands of political activists who are fighting the regime in our provincial cities and towns. It is because of my star status. If anything happens to me you will talk about it, the same day, maybe the same hour. I can hire bodyguards to travel with me in Moscow or in the Russian countryside. I can hire the best lawyers in the country if something goes wrong with me.

What you saw on your TV screens on the 14th or 15th of April in Moscow and Saint Petersburg is the tip of the iceberg, that is grim reality for the opposition all over the country. The whole process, from my arrest to the mockery in the courtroom was in violation of every letter in Russian law and the constitution. I was arrested even before we reached the point of the demonstration, we were not even shouting anything. We were arrested by the special police for "violating public order." If you are arrested for administrative causes they cannot detain you for more than three hours. In total I was detained for eleven hours. I was made to pay a fine of a thousand rubles, on the basis of the testimony of one police officer, without any chance of defence. A thousand rubles is not a lot, but technically the next time they can put me in prison, for fifteen days, or much worse.

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