Kasparov vs Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition

by ChessBase
10/24/2007 – He did it again: the former world champion and leader of the Russian opposition has appeared on yet another prime time American TV show. After Colbert and Maher, this time Kasparov argues with CNN's Wolf Blitzer about Russian politics under the regime of the president Vladimir Putin. Late Edition can be seen all over the world – in case you missed it here are transcripts and a podcast.

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Kasparov vs Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition

It is the third time in a week that the former world chess champion and current opposition leader in Russia has appeared on a major network with an attention-grabbing performance. What's next, Lenno, Letterman or, heaven forbid, Bill O’Reilly? Here are some highlights from the Late Edition piece, which lasted almost 15 minutes. At the bottom of the page you will find links to a full transcript and a CNN podcast of the interview.

Blitzer: Garry Kasparov, thanks very much for joining us. How serious are you about running for president?

Kasparov: In Russia we are not fighting win elections, we are fighting to have elections. And I think running for president is more of a statement, which is very important at a time when people do not see an alternative.

Early in the interview Blitzer throws a quote at Kasparov:

Blitzer: A former Soviet spokesman, Vladimir Posner, a Russian television host, said this on "60 Minutes" the other day, he said: "Everyone knows that he was a great chess player, but today they know him as a fringe, as they would say, political figure, and he could not be elected dog catcher." Those are pretty strong words from Posner.

Kasparov: These are absolutely very strong words. Mr. Posner had to add that if I could have a chance to be on TV programs like his, in two or three weeks the situation would change completely. But because people like him do not want to confront regime and play like, you know, Kremlin stooges, then our chances, of course, are highly limited.

A biographical note: Vladimir Pozner (or Posner), 73, is a Russian journalist best known in the West for appearing on television to represent and explain the views of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was a memorable spokesperson for the Soviets in part because he had grown up in the United States and spoke flawless American English with a New York accent. In 1980 he called for arrest and extradition of Andrei Sakharov, an act for which he apologized in his 1990 autobiography. In a 2005 interview Posner spoke openly about his role as a Soviet spokesman, stating bluntly, "What I was doing was propaganda." – Wikipedia.

Blitzer: There is another side of the story. Let me read to you what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn told Der Spiegel back in July. He said: "Putin inherited a ransacked and bewildered country with a poor and demoralized people, and he started to do what was possible, a slow and gradual restoration." Here are some statistics that have come out recently. The Russian economy, the gross domestic product is now up 7.7 percent, real incomes up 14.4 percent, 600,000 new jobs. And this poll that came out from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center asked about approval or disapproval of President Putin's job rating – 83 percent in this poll said they approve of the job he is doing; 10 percent disapprove. Those are pretty amazing numbers.

Kasparov: Look, you know, I don't think that we can trust opinion polls taken in a police state. People obviously are scared to answer the question about Putin or their governor. The moment you ask the same people about economy, about social security, health care, other important issues – issues important for them, you can get a very, very different number.

Now as for Russian GDP and all other average statistics, yes, you are absolutely right. But the problem is that the country is divided into uneven parts. Fifteen percent that are living in the country you just described, and 85 percent, which is 120 million people, they are not seeing all of these benefits. And for instance, in Moscow, which is declared by Financial Times the most expensive city for foreigners, the average income, official statistics, is just slightly over $1,000.


Other recent reports

  • OpEdNews: Maher Left Speechless!
    The best part of the program was or is, when he visited with Garry Kasporav, a World Champion chess player, who is running for president, of Russia. Maher was dazzled with what Kasporav knew about politics both here and in Russia. Blown away, ... all Maher could do was lean back in his chair and say, "Checkmate!" Too bad that Kasporav can't stay with us and point out to our voters a little political advice for Bush and Cheney from a Russian professional.

  • Kasparov Wows American Audience!
    As Kasparov talked about the relationship between Putin's power, oil prices, and instability in the Middle East, Chris Matthews [host of the nightly MSNBC Hardball] is heard off-camera exclaiming, "Jesus!" After the interview, the shameless Matthews launched into one of his famous gushes. "Do you ever think that they're playing chess and we're playing checkers? Our guys – our guys never get to that level of sophistication!" It's possible that American cable news really is such a wasteland of idiocy that a little honest talk about oil politics sends an MSNBC host into a tizzy. Or maybe Kasparov is just the latest in a long line of Matthews' man crushes.

  • Siberian Light: Bill Maher interviews Garry Kasparov
    Kasparov panders to the crowd a bit (it’s a satire show, after all, so fair play to him), but there’s some interesting stuff in there – notably his explanation of why Putin is so friendly with Iran at the moment. Common sense, but it needs to be explained from time to time. My favourite moment though is Maher’s question about whether the ‘Russian soul’ means that Russians just want a strong leader. Kasparov’s rebuttal is a gem.

  • Radio Free Europe: Politkovskaya Remembered For Seeking Truth, Challenging Authority
    The remembrance event's keynote speaker was Garry Kasparov, a leading opposition figure in Russia who has declared his intention to run for president in the March 2008 election. He remembered Politkovskaya as a journalist who stood up to authority and pursued the truth no matter the cost. "She was always challenging people," he said. "And she challenged her critics to refute the proof she collected, she challenged her supporters and collaborators to live up to her high standards of hard work and moral authority. And most of all, she challenged authority. She had no respect for authority, only for the truth. And as Anna proved so many times, in Russia today authority and truth are never found in the same place."

Editorial note: Every time Kasparov appears on a major news show, we receive numerous letters pointing this out. And every time we publish a report on the subject, like the current one, we get a number of letters castigating us for doing so. Politics, we are told, do not belong on a chess news page. Kasparov, so the admonition, is an amateur who should have stuck to chess. Some have far more drastic opinions on the former world champion, most are radically anti-Kasparov, pro-Putin, or both (we are talking about a dozen or so negative letters per report). We regret that Kasparov's US media blitz is so traumatizing for a few of our readers, but we need to keep reporting on the subject. Guys, you promised to visit chess sites that sanitize their news, filter out politics and/or Kasparov. Why do you keep coming back?

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