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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 10:26 GMT
Russia votes
On Sunday 02 March Andrew Marr interviewed Gary Kasparov and Dmitry Peskov

Gary Kasparov
Gary Kasparov

ANDREW MARR: By the end of today Russia will have a new president after an election that outside observers don't think's been free or fair.

Not only do we already know the winner, or think we do, Vladimir Putin's chosen successor is a younger man who has never stood in an election before, Dmitry Medvedev.

But there's also confident reports about what percentage of the vote he's going to get. Obama and Hillary this is not.

As for Mr. Putin, he's predicted to become Prime Minister and continue to pull most of the strings that matter. In a moment I'm going to be talking to Mr. Putin's leading spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.

But first the other Russia, that's the title of the opposition movement led by the man who was for years the world's greatest chess Grand Master and who is now a political dissenter, Gary Kasparov. Mr. Kasparov joins me now. Welcome, thank you for coming in Mr. Kasparov.

GARY KASPAROV: Good morning.

ANDREW MARR: Now your other Russia movement brings together people from the left and right, all sorts of different groups who oppose Mr. Putin. Why did you yourself not stand as a presidential candidate in this election?

GARY KASPAROV: We did not oppose Mr. Putin or Mr. Medvedev, we opposed the system which is undemocratic and does not allow Russian people to select parliament and the president.

And I tried among others to put my bid for the presidency but it's virtually impossible in Russia because there's so many obstacles created by the regime that unless you are 100% loyal to the regime you will not simply go through these intricate complications.

ANDREW MARR: You've had all sorts of problems put in your way, you weren't allowed to book halls, you found...

GARY KASPAROV: Yes, I don't think we should list all the difficulties you know. The regime simply does not allow opposition groups to create illegal political activities.

ANDREW MARR: Yet, it's not simply because of the regime and the system that Mr. Putin has been so popular. Russia has grown economically, and he does appear out there to have a lot of genuine support.

GARY KASPAROV: I don't know. How do you know? Mr. Putin never stood for free and fair elections. And when you talk about these big numbers they are obviously inflated by the pro-Kremlin polling organisations. If you look at the result of the so-called parliamentary elections on December 2nd, even with the exotic numbers like 99% in some northern caucus on republics and even 109% in republic of Moldova. Mr. Putin's overall official support was 64%. But when you extrapolate it and you go down by simply, you know, trying to get some sense out of this number that's not more than 40%.

ANDREW MARR: And what is the temperature when it comes to human rights issues like freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the basics of human rights and democratic discourse?

GARY KASPAROV: You know Russia today belongs to the group of countries like Belorussia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and I think sooner the west recognises this truth is better for all of us.

ANDREW MARR: And do you think that countries across Europe, including eventually Britain, but particularly countries like Germany and France who get so much of their gas now from Russia, have done a sort of devil's deal?

GARY KASPAROV: Yes I think they are mixing the business which is actually vital for both sides, it's for mutual benefit, with providing Putin with very important political credentials. Doing business with China does not mean that you have to provide Chinese communist leaders with the democratic ammunition. In Russia unfortunately Putin and Kremlin propaganda always use the fact that Putin was received in a G7 club as an argument that all the criticism against him, that he was not democratic, he's a authoritarian leader, all the criticism was irrelevant.

ANDREW MARR: All right, Mr. Kasparov, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

INTERVIEW ENDS


Interview with Dmitry Peskov

ANDREW MARR: Now although President Putin's years in the Kremlin throughout them one man has been at side all the way through.

His chief spokesman and press advisor, you might almost call him Mr. Putin's Alastair Campbell, is Dmitry Peskov, and he now joins us live from Red Square.

Mr. Peskov thank you for joining us.

DMITRY PESKOV: Thank you for inviting me.

ANDREW MARR: Can I ask you first of all to respond directly to the criticisms that have been made that these are not really free and fair elections, that you haven't had a full range of candidates and that frankly the result will be fixed?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well as a matter of fact this is a perfect example of an approach that is based on prejudices. Look, we haven't had the elections yet, we're only in the middle of the day, the polling day. And before that a priori were trying to make decisions that these elections are unfair a priori. So this is of course, this is not the true and this attitude simply cannot reflect the reality. What we're having now, we're having now is free choice of Russian people who are using their right to vote as everywhere in the world, and the attendance is quite high as far as we're concerned right now. So and the voting is continuing throughout Russia.

ANDREW MARR: When people say they know what the results's going to be and they know roughly speaking the percentage that Mr. Medvedev is going to get, that is wrong is it?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well this is wrong of course. Well, obviously this year's election is special from the point of view that really the front runner is obvious. But don't forget that we have four candidates, well two of them besides Mr. Medvedev are very rooted Russian politicians, they are very experienced politicians. Also we have a young politician here, but Mr. Medvedev he used to prove his effectiveness actually, that's why he is known as a front runner and that's why it's quite easy to predict the outcome. But of course we don't know the percentage.

ANDREW MARR: What happens to Mr. Putin after this election, what's he going to be doing?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well another couple of months till the day of inauguration on the, well the first week of May, he's going to continue and be acting president. He's going to be head of state of Russia and on the day of inauguration he will step down. By the way I would like to remind all the speculations one year ago that everyone was predicting that Mr. Putin will figure out a cruel plan and then stay for a third term, but he proved to be devoted to Russian constitution. And after that and if Mr. Medvedev is elected today as a result of today's voting there was a previous understanding that Mr. Putin will become a prime minister of Russia and will continue to serve his country.

ANDREW MARR: And we're seeing reports in today's papers that Mr. Medvedev would then serve only one term and Mr. Putin might come back again as president of Russia?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well I would like to refer to my previous phrase about last year's speculations that Mr. Putin will stay for a third term. So it's nothing more than speculation.

ANDREW MARR: What about the view, the strong view, that Mr. Medvedev is going to be in effect Mr. Putin's puppet?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well he who is going to be elected as a president tonight will be the head of state. So he will enjoy the whole power of presidency in Russia. And if Mr. Putin becomes a prime minister he will enjoy authorities and responsibilities envisaged for a prime minister in this country. There is a slight difference between these two but both are quite effective. But I repeat the head of state will be the man who is going to be elected as a result of today's elections.

ANDREW MARR: When Kosovo announced its independence, declared its independence, President Putin said that there would be consequences, grave consequences, if they went ahead. What are those consequences going to be?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well, speaking about consequences, what was meant was primarily was there were the consequences for the whole system of international relationship. For international law that was damaged very seriously because it was really violated. And also of the danger of leading to a chain reaction in different regions of Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and also territory on the territory of ex Soviet Union.

ANDREW MARR: So we haven't seen the end of it?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well unfortunately the situation is very grave and of course Russia and lots of other states they will continue their efforts to do whatever is possible to repair international law and to return to the leading role of the United Nations and its Security Council.

ANDREW MARR: Of course one of the countries that supported Kosovo's independence was Britain. And British-Russian relations have not been good lately, partly because of the killing in London and the extradition issue, partly because of what happened with the British Council. Can you just give us a sort of temperature assessment, tell us what's going on in your view between the two countries now?

DMITRY PESKOV: Well unfortunately I can make an assessment only from our end, and from our end you mention the case of Mr. Litvinenko. Unfortunately you know there are certain difficulties in bringing light to this case because simply our relevant services can not find a possibility of cooperating with their British counterparts, their British counterparts are simply refusing to do that. Well, and unfortunately we don't see much desire and much flexibility from our British colleagues in, let's say, bringing our relationship to normal, to normal dimension. But certainly our dialogue, dialogue between Moscow and London is something that we attach a very great importance to. And we do hope that in the future we'll see much more friendly attitudes from London and that will have a possibility to restore the atmosphere in our political and diplomatic relations.

ANDREW MARR: Well it's not spring yet as we can see from looking behind you Mr. Peskov, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

DMITRY PESKOV: Thank you.


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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