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YOUR WORLD TODAY
Remembering Boris Yeltsin; French Presidential Election
Aired April 23, 2007 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Remembering Boris Yeltsin. The first democratically elected president of Russia is dead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is a step we think that is not for the good of the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The main goal of these borders is to provide security to the citizens.
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ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A safe zone or a prison zone? The U.S. plan to divide parts of Baghdad stirs up controversy.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's a two- horse race in France's presidential election. We'll tell you why this vote is crucial for France and its relationship with the rest of the world.
CLANCY: Hala Gorani in Paris there, where it's 6:00 p.m. It's 8:00 p.m. in Moscow.
Hello and welcome to our report broadcast all around the globe.
I'm Jim Clancy.
CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church.
From Paris, to Moscow, to Baghdad, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
Well, the Russian leader who engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and ushered in sweeping reforms has died.
CLANCY: Boris Yeltsin, Russia's very first freely-elected president, came to office a staunch defender of democracy, evenly scrambling atop a tank at one point to resist an attempted coup.
CHURCH: All right. None of us would forget that. But critics say his democratic commitments slid in later years and point to his marked reforms that pushed many Russians deep into poverty.
CLANCY: CNN's own Jill Dougherty, who spent many years in Russia, has more on Yeltsin's mark on its history. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice over): December 31, 1999: Boris Yeltsin walked way from it all -- the presidency, the power, the prestige.
BORIS YELTSIN, FMR. RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, on the last day of the departing century, I am resigning.
DOUGHERTY: His staff and the nation were in shock. But Yeltsin, in his memoirs says, "To my surprise, I realized I was in a good mood. A very good, cheerful mood."
He handed over the so-called nuclear suitcase which controls Russia's missiles to his hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin. "Now I was no longer responsible for the nuclear suitcase and the nuclear button," he wrote. "Maybe I would finally get rid of my insomnia."
And so, the man who many accused of being addicted to power was now a pensioner. And he began recording his memoirs for a third and last auto biography which he would call in Russian "Presidential Marathon". But he stayed away from politics.
His old friend, Bill Clinton, visited him, and his country dacha. He met occasionally with the new Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Not as an advisor, he said, but as someone to talk with who knows a lot.
He criticized Mr. Putin for bringing back the old Soviet anthem. He said he regretted leaving two difficult decisions to Mr. Putin, whether to remove Lenin's body from its mausoleum on Red Square, and whether to outlaw the communist party. At the height of his Kremlin power, Boris Yeltsin told CNN he is not concerned about his role in history.
YELTSIN (through translator): Concerning history, I want to dispense with that issue immediately. I am not thinking about history at all, and I'm not planning on thinking about it. I'm thinking about deeds.
DOUGHERTY: But Boris Yeltsin now is part of history. More than three-quarters of his countrymen think the Yeltsin era brought Russia more bad than good. Political observers see two sides to Boris Yeltsin.
ANDREI KORTUNOV, POLITICAL ANALYST: He will be remembered as a very talented, very gifted politician, but a hopeless statesman. He knew how to get to power. He knew how to keep in power. But he didn't know quite well what to do with the power that he had.
DOUGHERTY: Another man who once ruled the Kremlin calls Yeltsin power hungry.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FMR. SOVIET PRESIDENT (through translator): Of course, he was no democrat. He came to power adjusting his point of view, deceiving, saying he's against privileges, a gray democrat. He climbed up on a tank, but it was all deception.
DOUGHERTY: Boris Yeltsin in his last book saw it differently. "I gave it my all," he writes. I put my whole heart and soul into running my presidential marathon. I honestly went the distance. If I have to justify anything, here is what I will say: if you think you can do it better, just try. Run those 40,000 kilometers. Try to do it faster, better, more elegantly or more easily, because I did it."
CLANCY: As noted, Jill Dougherty covered Russian affairs, including the years of Boris Yeltsin. As our Moscow bureau chief, she joins us now with more on Yeltsin's death from Washington, while Matthew Chance standing by in Moscow to give us the reaction there.
But let's start with Jill.
Was Boris Yeltsin the right man for the job? The right man at the right time for Russia?
DOUGHERTY: You know, with all of the problems and the contradictions in him, I think you would have to say that he was. He was a man who had to change huge issues and things going on in the Soviet Union and in Russia. And he was a man of enormous talent, charisma, political acumen, and a man with enormous problems, too.
But no single politician who was at any way limited could have handled what Boris Yeltsin did, I believe. That you really needed a person who was larger than life to handle these larger-than-life issues.
CLANCY: Matthew Chance, if I can bring you in there from Moscow, you know, his faults were many, his critics were legion. But where is his place in history, Russian history, world history?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Boris Yeltsin's legacy will be extremely complex.
On the one hand, of course, he was everybody's hero back in '91 when he faced off the hard-liners and eventually oversaw the demise of the Soviet Union. He brought democracy and the free market to this country. And many people enjoy the results of that today. But at the same time, the way it was handled, the implementation of that democracy, resulted in instability.
The free market resulted in crony capitalism which concentrated wealth and power in the hands of just a few individuals. That has left many Russians who live in Russia today extremely angry and bitter about the legacy of Boris Yeltsin. Nevertheless, I think for everybody, there's a degree of shock today, news of his death.
CLANCY: Jill Dougherty, Matthew drew the comparison there, the then and now. How do we compare Boris Yeltsin's Russia with Putin's Russia?
DOUGHERTY: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that, Jim. CLANCY: How would you contrast the Russia of Boris Yeltsin against Putin's, Vladimir Putin's Russia?
DOUGHERTY: I think you'd have to say Boris Yeltsin really will be remembered for a certain amount of chaos. And some supporters would say it was creative chaos. And the Putin era is very controlled order. And some would argue too much control.
So, they're really very, very different. And if you look at the comment by Mr. Gorbachev today, he said that Boris Yeltsin was a man of great deeds and serious errors, and these were two men who really hated each other. And you're going to see this in the comments.
Mr. Yeltsin opening up things, almost uncontrollably. And then Putin, later -- of course, the man he chose to take over from him -- closing it down and making it more structured.
CLANCY: Matthew Chance, there in Moscow, are we expecting a state funeral?
CHANCE: Well, no plans have been announced yet, Jim. But certainly it would be a great surprise to many people here if there weren't a state funeral for Boris Yeltsin.
He kept his title with him as the first president of Russia throughout his years of retirement since he handed over power to Vladimir Putin back in 2000. And the bankers are saying that, you know, the bets are that he will be buried as the president of this country.
CLANCY: Matthew Chance there in Moscow, Jill Dougherty joining us live from Washington.
To both of you, thank you -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Well, Boris Yeltsin has been out of the public eye for quite some time now, but still, love him or hate him, he was a force to be recognized with him.
And joining us to talk about Yeltsin in life and in death is Dmitri Trenin, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center in Washington.
Thanks so much for being with us.
We heard from our Matthew Chance there that Yeltsin's legacy will be a complex one. Do you think, really, we're looking at one legacy for the world and perhaps one legacy for Russians?
DMITRI TRENIN, DEP. DIRECTOR, CARNEGIE MOSCOW CENTER: No. I think it's one legacy. And I think that the balance of that legacy is overwhelmingly positive.
Without Mr. Yeltsin, the democrats in Russia would have found it very hard to dismantle the communist system. He brought populism to the democratic vanguard of the Russian people. He was also the person who defended the games of Glasnost and the early stages of democracy atop a tank near the Russian Supreme Soviet building.
Those things, again, were very much at the top of Yeltsin's legacy. So that, I think, is something that both the Russians and the rest of the world will have to remember first about Boris Yeltsin.
CHURCH: Is that the case, though, for Russians? Because, really, what some people are referring to is that shock theory -- that shock therapy, I should say. That abrupt introduction of a market economy was very difficult for many Russians and really propelled them into a life of poverty. So, will they really see his legacy in this positive light you talk about?
TRENIN: Well, I think that Yeltsin's legacy will be reviewed and reviewed and reviewed. And the better people live in Russia. And actually, they live far better today than they did 10 years ago. The more positive the general assessment of Yeltsin's legacy will be -- I think the more time passes, the greater the figure, Boris Yeltsin, will be seen by the bulk of the Russian people.
CHURCH: Now, he handpicked Vladimir Putin. Do you think -- and he did actually criticize some of his decisions later. Do you think he came to regret the decision of putting Putin in power there?
TRENIN: Well, he was playing with different options in 1999, and Putin was one of those options. Not everything, absolutely, has turned out the way Yeltsin thought when he was making that choice. But I think it would be right to regard Putin's presidency and Yeltsin's presidency as very much a single thing. Part of the transition process in Russia which is not over yet.
I would say that Putin has kept the most important gains of the -- of the Yeltsin era and, I would say, of the Gorbachev era. It's a very Russian movement of two steps forward, one step backward. But the one step backward actually consolidates the gains of the two steps forward.
CHURCH: All right. Dmitri Trenin, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.
Jim, it's interesting there. Much more overwhelming positive response to the legacy. That's not necessarily what we've been hearing all morning. Nor to the feedback. A much more negative approach, with Russians feeling their lives just didn't improve with the coming of democracy.
CLANCY: But amid all of that, people realize and they look at it. Boris Yeltsin represented this bold man who seized the moment, changed things. Yes, sweepingly.
No, it didn't turn out perfectly well. But who is to say if he had planned it for months at a time, it may have turned out just the same.
CHURCH: Indeed. The vision may have been right, but maybe the way he carried it out possibly not so.
CLANCY: Well, the way he did it might have been needed by Russia.
More on Boris Yeltsin and much more ahead right here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
Stay with us.
GORANI: Welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.
I'm Hala Gorani.
And welcome to our special coverage of the French presidential elections. It is now a two-horse race, the traditional battle between left and right here in France.
There is Nicolas Sarkozy. He is the conservative candidate. And according to the French Interior Ministry, he was able to pick up more than 31 percent of the votes. Now, the female candidate, Segolene Royal, well, she came in at 25.8 percent of the vote.
Both Sarkozy and Royal plan rallies, of course, in the coming hours to begin the process of persuading voters to vote for them on May 6th.
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NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The French have expressed their desire not to let anyone else make their decisions for them. In putting me in first place of this first round of voting and placing Madame Royal in second place, they have clearly indicated that they want to follow the debate on two sides of the nation. Two programs for society, two value systems, and two concepts of politics right through to its conclusion.
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GORANI: Well, Royal, for her part, wants to be France's first woman president as the socialist candidate. You see her there on your screen. She advocates more government spending and keeping a generous worker protection in place in France.
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SEGOLENE ROYAL, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): My dear fellow citizens, I do invite you to invent a new France, protective and also dynamic. A France that is a brotherhood but also conquering that will enable each of you to build and succeed in life.
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GORANI: Well, Segolene Royal wants to become the first female president of the French republic. But there is a lot more at stake than the symbolism of achieving that goal. Segolene Royal is a left-wing candidate, a socialist, and she is very negative about the war in Iraq, for instance, among other things. So that is one foreign policy aspect of her position.
She called the war in Iraq "a catastrophe". But she is not negative about the United States or Americans as a whole.
Royal is no fan of George W. Bush, and she stands against many of his administration's policies. She has called her rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, a Bush clone. Now, will there be a thaw in frigid relations with the U.S. if Madame Royal is elected, especially considering her criticism of the Bush administration?
There's quite a contrast between Segolene Royal, who you just saw there voting about 24 hours ago, and Nicolas Sarkozy. He is the UMP candidate. That is the party of the current president, Jacques Chirac.
I'm joined now by Axel Poniatowski. He's the foreign policy adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy, and one of his spokespeople.
Thanks for being with us.
Well, this hour, YOUR WORLD TODAY is seen all over the world, but also in America. Explain to Americans who are watching this hour how the relationship between France and their country could change if Nicolas Sarkozy becomes president.
AXEL PONIATOWSKI, NICOLAS SARKOZY'S SPOKESMAN: Well, Nicolas Sarkozy is a friend of the United States. He likes the United States.
At the same time, he said pretty recently that to a friend you say the truth. And when you're making an error, you tell him that you're making an error. And he was backing Jacques Chirac during the Iraqi crisis, because he thinks that the United States has made an error going to Iraq. At the same time, he probably would have said a different way than de Villepin said it.
GORANI: So you're saying that essentially the way the message was communicated to America in the run-up to the Iraq war by Dominique de Villepin, that famous U.N. speech he made, Nicolas Sarkozy disagreed with the tone?
PONIATOWSKI: Well, he probably wouldn't have said it the same way.
GORANI: All right.
Now, would anything change, though, do you think? Nicolas Sarkozy went to America, for instance. Segolene Royal was rumored to have been snubbed by Hillary Clinton, for instance. But Nicolas Sarkozy, he was welcomed a little bit more warmly.
PONIATOWSKI: Well, Nicolas Sarkozy, as I said, has admired the United States and the way -- the way the country is doing, is progressing, the liberty in the country, the way of life in the country.
GORANI: Does he admire George Bush?
PONIATOWSKI: Well, I'm not sure he admires George Bush. I think -- and here in France, we like to make a big difference with -- between the administration and the country. France and the United States, we believe, have a very special relationship for centuries. Now, administration is something different.
GORANI: All right. So, in other words, you're saying -- what I can hear you say and implying, perhaps, is that you have a good relationship with the Americans, with the culture in America, but you are not necessarily in agreement with the George Bush administration on foreign policy?
GORANI: Where are there common points then?
PONIATOWSKI: Well, then we would need to get into detail of the foreign policy.
GORANI: No, just the wider sort of lines of it.
PONIATOWSKI: For example, the Middle East -- the Middle East situation is really probably the area where there is more tension today. France and the United States agreed on having the same position on a few areas. For example, Lebanon. For example, Syria.
The policy and the approach is the same. Also...
PONIATOWSKI: And also Afghanistan, of course. Not only France supports the policy in Afghanistan, but French militaries are in Afghanistan.
GORANI: OK. Last question.
One of the things that perhaps our international viewers might not be aware of is that when Nicolas Sarkozy is presented inside of France as close to America, that is used against him.
PONIATOWSKI: Yes. But, you know, we are at the end of a major presidential campaign, and anything is good to try to diminish the adversary.
GORANI: You're saying that's a cheap shot?
PONIATOWSKI: No. You know, but the thing is -- the thing is really, the Bush administration is really not popular here in France. I mean, because of the Iraq situation, because the way it has been handled. And it's really unpopular, which is not at all the case of the Americans. And this has to be clearly understanding, the United States.
GORANI: Everywhere in France American culture is very visible. Even in the language, by the way.
Axel Poniatowski, one last question. If Nicolas Sarkozy makes it as president, will you get a foreign ministry job?
PONIATOWSKI: No, no, no. I'll be very happy being an MP.
GORANI: All right. Thank you, Axel Poniatowski, for joining us here on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
And read more about those French presidential elections, profiles of the candidates. And also, stay tuned. We will be speaking to advisers of the other camp, Segolene Royal, that is, the female candidate, in coming hours and days as we continue to cover this crucial vote.
Also, check out CNN.com/france.
Now back to you at the CNN Center.
CLANCY: All right, Hala. Thank you very much for that.
Well, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY, and we've got a lot more coming up this hour.
Charges of fraud and ballot box stuffing in Nigeria's presidential vote.
CHURCH: That's right. We'll tell you why international observers call the weekend vote deeply flawed.
CLANCY: Solemn bells ringing out, balloons floating into the sky for the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre.
CHURCH: And is it protection or prison? The U.S. says barriers going back up in Baghdad are meant to protect citizens. Many of them don't see it that way. The story when we return.
Stay with us.
CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers joining us from more than 200 countries and territories around the globe, including the United States.
CLANCY: This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Jim Clancy.
CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. And here are some of the top stories we're following. The leader who introduced democracy and free market reforms to Russia has died at the age of 76. Boris Yeltsin was Russia's first democratically elected president and helped engineer the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Interfax news agency says he died of heart failure in a Moscow hospital.
CLANCY: French voters turning out on record numbers Sunday, selecting a new president, or moving in that direction. A crowded field of 12 candidates now paired down to two, setting off a run-off vote on May 6th that pits conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy against the woman candidate the Socialist, Segolene Royal with only five percentage points separating Sarkozy from the runner up.
CHURCH: Nigeria's electoral commission has declared the ruling party's candidate the winner of this weekend's presidential election. It says Muslim (ph) governor Umaru Yar'Adua won by a landslide. European Union observers say Nigeria's elections on Sunday fell short of international standards. A top opposition politician wants the vote annulled and called on parliament to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo.
CLANCY: During Boris Yeltsin's many years in power, Russian pride seemed to reach a low point.
CHURCH: It did. But with the economy doing well now, many Russians, especially the young, are finding reasons to take pride in their country.
CLANCY: CNN's Becky Anderson gives us a look at how they're expressing that patriotism in popular culture.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Moscow's Zeppelin (ph) club, the party is just getting started. This contest features DJs who have played around Europe and they say this is as good as it gets.
DMITRI ASHMAN, PARTY ORGANIZER: I have with a lot of friends (ph), very famous DJs coming. They say the parties in Moscow are the best, one of the best in the world.
ANDERSON: This is a new generation, one coming of age in Vladimir Putin's Russia. And like their country, they've got lots of energy. Radiate confidence and are proud of who they are.
But still there has to be more to Russia's resurgent national pride than Moscow's night life.
After the frenetic club scene, I head to the calmer waters of an art studio.
Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogratof (ph) are among Russia's leading contemporary artists. They describe how are here has evolved in tandem with the country's politics. During the Yeltsin's years it was fashionable to reject national themes in favor of Russian ones. Profitable, but in no way reflecting life in Russia. Since President Putin came into office they're seeing that change.
(on camera): You talk about how nationalism is expressed in your art. Are you seeing that in other forms of pop culture?
VLADIMIR DUBOSSARSKY, ARTIST (through translator): We are in a period when artists are still looking for how to answer the question of expressing national ideas. Now I think it's a very important theme and very contemporary.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Vladimir speaks in terms the artists use of pride expressed through the pursuit of metaphysical ideas and that under President Putin, art need no longer be politic sized. All relevant, but not quite touching on what it means to be Russian today.
As the weekend draws to a close, I visit Victor Erofeyev, one of Russia's most popular authors. And host of a television talk show that brings together intellectual elites to probe these very topics.
I want to know why it is people here can say they are proud to be Russian, yet have difficulty finding a common narrative.
VICTOR EROFEYEV, AUTHOR: When we had communism, communism is against nationalism as idea. Then communism gone and people, they didn't know, really, what is right identification, what they could think about themselves.
ANDERSON: We talk about the definition of Russian pride beginning with understanding a country caught between two cultures, East and West.
EROFEYEV: But in good moments we are sitting on two chairs, having East and West in our soul. But in bad moments we are sitting between two chairs and I think the last 20 years we were sitting between two chairs and, finally, slowly we're starting to put these chairs together.
ANDERSON: Back at the club, the beat is still thumping. The crowds still dancing. Young people thinking more of the moment than tomorrow. Yet when tomorrow comes and they find their own place in the world, have no doubt that they'll do so proud to be Russian. Becky Anderson, CNN, Moscow.
CHURCH: We want to turn now to the war in Iraq and a security plan that's stirring a lot of controversy. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a halt to the construction of security barriers in a Baghdad neighborhood. But Iraq's military spokesman later they said the prime minister was responding to groundless media reports that the walls would be permanent. Iraqi and U.S. officials say they will continue to set up these temporary barriers to stem the sectarian violence plaguing the country.
Well, of course, the idea of building a wall to keep enemies apart is not new in this part of the world. Stephen Frazier has some insight. Stephen? STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have been building defensive walls in what is now known as Iraq for thousands of years going all the way back to the Sumerians.
But the construction in Adhamiya is far more high-tech and a lot more controversial, too. Some Iraqis see it as the latest evidence of a growing divide, but U.S. officials say that is not the intent.
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RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: It's to try to identify where the fault lines are, where avenues of attack lie and set up the barriers, literally, to prevent those attacks.
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FRAZIER: Adhamiya has a long history. It is the birth place of Iraq's Baath Party. Saddam Hussein made his final public appearance there before U.S. forces toppled his government in 2003 and it's still thought to be rich with loyalists to Saddam's regime.
Adhamiya lies on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in the northeastern part of Baghdad -- you can see it here as we zoom in -- it is surrounded by Shia neighborhoods on three sides although it, itself, is exclusively Sunni.
And to keep those two groups apart the U.S. military is setting up concrete panels that stand 3.5 meters tall, and which are topped with razor wire.
There are lots of precedents for what seems to be kind of a crude idea here. There's the Berlin Wall, the Great Wall of China, Israel's barrier along the West Bank.
But two examples stand out. In South Vietnam, the government, with U.S. help, moved peasants into fortified villages called strategic hamlets, the idea was to separate them and protect them from insurgent Viet Cong but the hamlets were easily overrun and the people they were supposed to help didn't want them. The government gave them up.
U.S. and Iraqi authorities might better be served by studying British success using walls against insurgents during the 1950s, in what is now known as Malaysia. The British showered relocated villagers with money, opportunity and they sent tens of thousands of extra troops to protect them in a big surge, proof, U.S. experts say, that walls can work, up to a point.
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BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET): Good walls make good neighbors. You have got to get those things up just to provide some security. But as the residents would tell you, as soon as they go up, you've got to work at getting them down and that's based on trying to establish greater security across the board. You want the neighborhoods to mix, but you also don't want them killing each other, which tends to be the challenge right now.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
FRAZIER: So the U.S. military wants to wall off as many as 10 of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods eventually and they want to use biometric technology to track some of the residents who live there. Whether they'll be permitted to do either is now an open question, though.
CHURCH: Interesting statement, a couple of those examples you gave. I wonder if you could explain a little more to us why the program, the British program in Malaysia worked so well.
FRAZIER: It seemed so much like the Vietnamese program, but it really was different. They took relocated villagers, put them into a whole new place. They resented the whole new thing initially, but the new villages, as they were called, gave them a much better standard of living. They had better health care, they had food assistance, cash grants, ownership of land and they had British promises of the vote and an early departure of colonial forces. And early independence.
The biggest difference, though, was how Commonwealth troops flooded into Malaysia in a big surge, 40,000 of them, they drove insurgents into the jungle and denied them resources, even eventually winning a lot of them over.
CHURCH: Interesting to see those different global experiences.
FRAZIER: Any lessons there ...
CHURCH: Indeed. Thanks, Stephen Frazier. Jim?
CLANCY: Here in the United States, you'll sometimes hear critics of the war in Iraq refer to it as America's new Vietnam. Well, some soldiers stationed there apparently feel the same way. Hugh Riminton joined them on the very dangerous trek through the streets of Baghdad.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just an hour ago, this patrol of the Fifth Cavalry was narrowly missed by an RPG attack. The day is not about to improve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go right. Go right.
RIMINTON: It's a buried bomb. An IED, the biggest killer of American troops. And then a second one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there one behind us too?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pick up speed.
RIMINTON: But for patrol leader, Staff Sergeant Matt St. Pierre (ph), the problems may just be beginning. They're caught in a classic trap. The humvees wheel around. If this is an ambush, they are dangerously exposed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go. Keep pushing.
RIMINTON: Four years and more into this war, there is nothing safe still about Baghdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slow down. Slow down.
RIMINTON: Immediately ahead of them, an abandoned car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not passing that car. Stop.
RIMINTON: Sgt. St. Pierre bellows in Arabic for the car to be moved. Someone comes. The car is not a bomb. The patrol moves on.
(on camera): What happened back there counts as a lucky miss. But even that gives some clues as to the insurgents' tactics and their increasing sophistication.
(voice-over): The first bomb went off seconds too early. It was designed to drive any survivors into the path of the second one. Ironically, the turn into the dead end street thwarted that plan.
Then as we reach the main road, one final threat. A burst of small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Matt St. Pierre has spent two of the last three years in Iraq. He is pessimistic now of what might be achieved.
STAFF SERGEANT: MATTHEW ST. PIERRE, U.S. ARMY: We've talked at length, my soldiers and myself. A term that comes up often is this is our generation's Vietnam. I don't think this can be won. We're caught in the middle of a civil war.
RIMINTON: He says the morale among U.S. troops is still good, but he fears the United States will leave this country worse than it found it, leaving a slaughter behind them.
ST. PIERRE: We are the buffer right now. When you pull us out, the people that support us are going to feel a wrath and the people that were against us, they're the majority, they're going to, I believe ultimately, win. That's unfortunate.
RIMINTON: It is one soldier's view from the evidence of his eyes.
RIMINTON (on camera): Now that, explosion was certainly big enough to have crippled that humvee and brought injury, if not worse, to the people inside it had it gone off as, no doubt, the insurgents intended, underneath the vehicle itself.
But what is remarkable about those scenes is just how unremarkable they are. Across Iraq today, another 48 people, at least, were killed in various insurgent and terrorist attacks. Another 93 were injured. Most of these were to the west of Baghdad in Ramadi, where a suicide car bomber pulled up at a restaurant and killed 20 people and injured many more. Those were civilians.
There were also attacks against a place, a restaurant in Baghdad frequented by police. That killed seven people, injured another 16 and also intriguingly, two car bombs went off near the Iranian embassy here in Baghdad. The big effort in the surge, the Baghdad security plan is an attempt to get Iraqi and American troops down on the ground to hold the ground against insurgents and terrorists.
They're claiming some success with that tactic, but it comes with enormous dangers. This is an extremely difficult adventure that they're engaged in now. Jim?
CLANCY: Hugh Riminton, thanks to you. Great reporting there that captures the texture of the story on the streets and that tinge of pessimism that is emerging from U.S. troops there. Great report from Hugh.
A winner has been declared in Nigeria. But the outcome of the presidential election isn't being accepted by everyone.
CLANCY: The first president of a democratic Russia dies. Many of you have been writing to us with your thoughts of on Boris Yeltsin's impact.
CHURCH: We'll read some of your e-mails later on YOUR WORLD TODAY.
CLANCY: Well, they were viewed by some as the most important electoral vote this year in all of Africa. Now, the chairman of the electoral commission declared a winner of the weekend's presidential vote in Nigeria.
CHURCH: That's right. It says ruling party candidate Umaru Yar'Adua won a landslide, despite criticism from international observers.
CLANCY: Now, Isha Sesay has been covering the election. She joins us now live from Abuja. Isha, what's been the reaction of this vote from the international observers and others?
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, let me say, it wasn't a surprising result. The declaration of Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as the winner taking just over 24 million votes. Opposition parties have already rejected that result and have said they will go to court. And the result -- more the conduct of the election, the way it was carried out has been widely condemned by local and international observer groups. Here is the verdict of the E.U. observer chief Max Van Den Berg.
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MAX VAN DEN BERG, E.U. OBSERVER TEAM: The 2007 state and federal elections have fallen far short of basic international and regional standards for democratic elections. They were marred by poor organization, lack of essential transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, significant evidence of fraud, particularly during the results collation process.
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SESAY: Well, Jim, as you hear the thoughts of Max Van Den Berg, and his view shared by many, the largest local observer group are calling for a re-run. The opposition party has rejected the result, as I said. And prior to the announcement being made, the president, the current president Olusegun Obasanjo, appeared on national television and appealed for calm from the people of Nigeria and said those who had problems with the way the election was conducted should, indeed, go to court but that Nigerians should have faith in democracy. Jim?
CLANCY: Isha Sesay reporting to us there live from Abuja, Nigeria. Isha, as always, our thanks to you.
These, some of the most critical elections to be held in Africa this year. Really, Nigeria being one of the countries that is a powerhouse, both economically as well as politically. A leadership nation, largest black nation in the world. But we have got to take a short break.
CHURCH: Do stay with us.
CHURCH: Welcome back to you all. We asked you what you thought of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
CLANCY: Now we are going to share some of your e-mails that you sent us. Here is what you had to say.
Frank from the Netherlands, "Despite Yeltsin's lack of smooth statesmanship qualities, he had a common sense strategic vision and human empathy to dissolve his country's entrapment from economic and socially destructive communism."
CHURCH: Now Fleming (ph) from Denmark says, "He is the Russian version of Ronald Reagan. He was needed for his style and his ability to connect to Russian people during a very difficult time."
CLANCY: And this one coming to us from Russia. Urena (ph), wrote this saying she appreciates what Boris did for her country, quoting, "He changed our history forever. And my generation will never forget him. I'm going to the funeral to say good-bye to my first president."
CHURCH: Some interesting thoughts there. And we want to hear from you. Keep sending those thoughts. If you would like to share your opinions just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to tell us your name and of course where you're writing from.
CLANCY: That has to be it for this hour. I'm Jim Clancy.
CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Stay with us here on CNN.
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