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Interview With Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov; Interview With Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 14, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Putin's war has only got him more of what he hates, nations wanting to join NATO.
I asked Kosovo's president about her application amid renewed Russian threats to the Balkans.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: There's shelling towards us. We are just over a mile away from the Russian forces.
AMANPOUR: Ukraine's eastern front. Correspondents report from inside the new conflict zone.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They specifically asked for fire support and that -- and specifically asked for artillery support.
AMANPOUR: As America ships another $800 million of military aid. I asked Russia's former prime minister, will it be enough to turn the tide?
FRANK VOGL, AUTHOR, "THE ENABLERS": Western governments have been far too tolerant of the corruption in the kleptocracies, in the autocracies of the
Michel Martin speaks to corruption fighter Frank Vogl..
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Russian sailors were forced to abandon ship in the Black Sea today. Moscow says there was a fire aboard the Moskva, which is a flagship of its fleet.
Ukraine's southern command says they attack the cruiser with anti-ship missiles, while the United States and its allies continue to flood weapons
into Ukraine for the expected Russian offensive against the east.
But they haven't yet sent in what Kyiv calls the game-changers, long-range artillery, anti-missile systems and combat aircraft. Meantime, Putin's
strategy appears to be backfiring, as more nations clamor to come under NATO's protective umbrella, among them, Kosovo in the Balkans.
It faced a similar invasion when Serbia laid claim to its territory back in 1999. But, led by the United States, NATO conducted a 78-day bombing
campaign against Serbian military positions. And, eventually, Kosovo survived and became an independent democratic nation.
Now the president of Kosovo sees Russia's aggression in Ukraine amid separatist rumblings in the Balkans, and she worries about her own
Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani is joining me now from the capital, Pristina.
Madam President, welcome to the program.
Can you lay out for us your particular concerns there in Kosovo, I mean, seemingly, a distance from Russia and Ukraine? But what threats do you feel
you're under right now?
VJOSA OSMANI, PRESIDENT OF KOSOVO: Well, thank you for having me.
It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to be talking to you after some time, and to be able to speak up as a small country, but I believe with an
important voice about how we see the situation in Ukraine. The horrendous war and the images that are coming from this country because of Russia's
unprovoked war against the innocent people of Ukraine are a stark reminder for what we had to go through as the people of Kosovo.
As you rightly pointed out, about 23 years ago, we had to go through similar sufferings. We were victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity. But because the world did not just stand still, because they didn't turn their backs on us and saved our lives through the NATO
bombings, we are alive today.
And we are speaking up to make sure that the world understands that, when ever concessions are made to tyrants and despots such as Putin, obviously,
long-term peace cannot be achieved. But we also have to understand that what's going on in Ukraine right now can affect the rest of the world, and
especially our continent, Europe.
It may seem like we are too distant from Ukraine. But, in fact, the kind of hegemony and the imperialist mentality that Russia is trying to push
forward is something that can affect the rest of Europe too.
Russia has been trying for way too long to destabilize the Western Balkans, where Kosovo belongs. They have been trying to do that through Serbia,
which they have used as a proxy and a satellite for way too long. And they have mainly been doing that against Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and
These destabilizing efforts have been going on. And, obviously, now there's a concern of the spillover effect..
OSMANI: ... that might come from the war in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So, then let me ask you just to put in a nutshell what are these destabilizing -- because we covered Kosovo, we covered Bosnia, and we saw
both become independent democratic states.
And yet it is very worrying. The special high representative there has sounded the alarm about what's happening to Bosnia, with the separatist
Bosnian Serbs again trying to wage their political agenda.
Can you describe what's happening, precisely what's happening to threaten Kosovo and Bosnia?
AMANPOUR: And I think I have heard you say that Serbia has got tanks near your border. Is that right?
OSMANI: Well, not right at this very moment.
But we did have a couple of occasions where, because Kosovo was implemented -- implementing agreements that were reached under the Brussels dialogue,
which is led by the European Union, Serbia responded with tanks and MiG-29, Russian MiGs, to add that around our border, some of them very close, and
the Russian ambassador, together with the Russian military attache, coming to the border with Kosovo and kind of blessing the Serbian forces to enter
Similar events happening around Bosnia-Herzegovina, a coup organized in Montenegro jointly by Serbian and Russian forces. So all of these events
are showing that Serbia, alongside Russia, wants to destabilize this part of the world, because, in this way, they're not just after us. They're
after the values-based systems that the European Union and NATO represent.
By keeping the Western Balkans destabilized, they are destabilizing the whole of Europe, which is why we keep saying that a Europe all free and at
peace is not possible without the Western Balkans joining.
And, at the same time, we keep repeating how it has become a security imperative for Kosovo to also join NATO, to join the allies, not just
because we share the same values, and we are the most pro-NATO nation on earth, but, at the same time, because I think the war in Ukraine should
serve with quite a lot of lessons learned towards the democratic world, especially NATO allies, that, despite the political circumstances or
domestic policies in each respective country, we need to look at membership right now from a security lens as well.
So all of these events...
AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm sorry to interrupt you.
But to follow on, you have written precisely about this to President Biden. You have made your formal request for this. What was the response? What
answer did you get?
OSMANI: Obviously, we see the United States as the most steadfast and the most important and strategic ally for Kosovo.
It has been so for decades, and it continues to be so. And for that reason, we turn to the United States once again, as we did throughout our history,
to ask for help, because with U.S. -- a U.S. leadership role. I believe that even those hesitating countries within NATO could be convinced to
support an accelerated membership for Kosovo.
We are working together with the United States on a couple of fronts, first of all to make sure that our army is strengthened in line with NATO
standards, secondly, to convince the four remaining countries within NATO to recognize Kosovo, so that they could later on support NATO membership
for Kosovo, and, thirdly, to make sure that we follow the necessary steps to begin with Partnership for Peace, which is an organization where
countries join before they join NATO.
And just to give you an example, it's absurd for us that anti-NATO countries, such as Serbia and Lukashenko's Belarus have been invited to
PFP, Partnership for Peace, but not Kosovo, a country that has been saved by NATO to begin with.
But, at the same time, throughout these 23 years, we have been able to build an army in line with NATO standards. And we share the same values. We
have shown this determination, even now with the war in Ukraine, as the first country in our region to issue sanctions against Russia, against
Belarus, and offering to also host Ukrainian refugees, as well as Ukrainian journalists, because we understand, at this point in history, how important
it is to have journalists also continue their reporting.
AMANPOUR: So, I hadn't realized that, the Partnership for Peace for those two countries that you mentioned.
But -- so let's talk a little bit. Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia was reelected pretty resoundingly just last week. And he has obviously condemned the war,
but not done the other things that other countries have done for Ukraine.
And you have mentioned the constant attempts at destabilizing the Western Balkans. How concerned are you about any further moves, destabilization, I
mean, I guess anti-democratic moves from your Serbian neighbor?
OSMANI: You're right. He is talking the talk, but he's never walking that talk.
So he does vote in favor of these U.N. General Assembly resolutions, but when it comes to take an action against Russia, against Belarus, whether on
their economy or otherwise, he never undertakes these actions.
In fact, Belgrade is the only European capital where pro-Putin rallies were organized with the full support of the government, as well as the
So, let me just remind everyone that today's president of Serbia used to serve Milosevic's minister of propaganda. So he's very good at doing the
kind of propaganda that Russia supports. But in these past 10 years, he managed to increase the kind of military, political and economic
cooperation with Russia to levels that have never existed before.
Just an example, back in 2012, the amount or the number of military exercises between Russia and Serbia was two per year, right now is more
than 100 per year. Nowadays, we see purchase agreements for weapons between Serbia and Russia, Serbia and China. And, obviously, this is concerning all
of us here in the region, because the more weapons they purchase, the more of a destabilizing effort they are carrying out against the rest of the
Serbia continues to view us as temporary countries. Obviously, that's not true. We are here to stay as independent, sovereign, vibrant and democratic
nations. And we're going to defend what we have achieved. And we are ready to pay any price to defend the democracy and the independent and sovereign
countries that we enjoy today.
As I pointed out at the beginning of our conversation, too much blood has been shed in our region. We have lost a lot of innocent people. Today,
we're commemorating the 14th of April, which is the day dedicated to 20,000 victims of rape in the war in Kosovo, survivors of rape as a wartime tool.
And, for that reason, what is going on in Ukraine now, with children being killed, innocent people being killed, women being raped as a tool of war,
is a reminder of what we had to go through. So, right now, it is extremely important that all of us, countries, big or small, stand together against
this tyranny, in the hope that, when the war ends, that these war criminals will face justice.
Unfortunately, in our part of the world, in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, what we have faced is the policy of denial of genocide. We have not seen
justice for the victims yet.
AMANPOUR: Well, you say that, but there were very senior perpetrators, certainly in the Bosnian War, who were taken to The Hague and were
convicted. And, therefore, these crimes have been enshrined, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the like.
And particularly I want to talk to you about this, because you are a lawyer. You specialize in war crimes prosecutions and human rights and
international law. So you mentioned that Vucic which was minister of information. And one of the things Serbia did during the Kosovo war will
always deny war crimes, but we all saw them, much like we journalists have seen the war crimes revealed in around Kyiv as the retreat happened, the
Russians were pushed back.
We saw the same in Kosovo after the -- after Kosovo was liberated from the Serbs.
I just want to play a little piece of a report I did in Kosovo. It is -- it's disturbing, and people might not want to watch. But we have to watch,
because history is repeating itself. So, I just want to play a little clip of the war crimes were discovered back in 1999.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Six days ago, once Yugoslav forces had left, Gani Kranizi (ph) came back to find out what had happened to 26 members of his
family who had stayed.
First, he saw their shoes outside their burnt-down house. And then he found the bones, rib cages, spines, and skulls. They are his cousins, he says.
"There, you see her hair," he says. "I recognize Shaheeda's hair and the color of her coat. I recognize Ramsia by her teeth."
And these shoes belong to his baby nephew. The dead range in age from 2 to 70.
AMANPOUR: So, there he was, Madam President, telling us that he had lost his whole family.
And it's -- that could be Bucha today. I just wonder, when you saw what was revealed in Ukraine, what you thought and particularly what you think as a
legal scholar and a legal mind to the next steps under the International Criminal Court or whatever.
OSMANI: It is -- it is like we're going through those events all over again.
I was in Kosovo initially as an IDP and later on as a refugee. We saw how - - with our own eyes it's -- it's beyond human imagination. So, it is difficult to explain what a human being can do unless you have seen these
kinds of events yourselves.
There is no single family in Kosovo that didn't have to go through this. And in just two days, I will be visiting a small village in Kosovo called
Poklek, where women and little children as young as 6 months old were put into rooms, and they were burned down in their houses, most of them alive,
three times in a row, three times in a row.
So, the intent to wipe out a nation was clear there. Every single day, we commemorate a massacre in Kosovo. So, when you rightly pointed out that
there were a few high-level figures at the ICTY, there were very few, Christiane, very, very few.
In all of these massacres that we're commemorating, those who committed the crimes are known criminals. And what's going on in Serbia right now...
AMANPOUR: Madam President, can you still hear me?
I think that connection froze, and we're going to continue. If we can get it back, we will finish our conversation.
But, meantime, the Ukrainian armed forces have released these images purporting to show a special forces operation that blew up a bridge near
Kharkiv in the east, as a Russian armored column was trying to cross. We were in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, just after Russia's first assault
failed. Now they're trying again.
And correspondent Nima Elbagir is there as the Russian forces launch their next phase, the war for Donbass in the east.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Desolate, bare, lifeless, this is what it looks like after weeks of relentless Russian shelling.
Saltivka, the most densely populated district in Kharkiv, it's being bombed day after day, night after night. There are very few people left, the
elderly mostly. One man stayed behind to keep his mother safe.
(on camera): Igor says that he lives on the 16th floor of one of these buildings with his mother. He says his mother is deeply religious and
deeply committed to staying here, even though they're almost entirely surrounded. And she won't leave, so he won't leave.
(voice-over): But this is a front line under renewed pressure. The Russians are pushing hard.
(on camera): That is so close. Those are Russian positions. They're shutting towards us. We are just over a mile away from the Russian forces.
This is their route into Kharkiv and then on into Ukraine.
For now, this is the front line. That could change at any moment now. They are trying as hard as they can to push that front line inwards.
(voice-over): The soldiers want to show us more evidence of the heavy bombardment.
(on camera): The soldiers want us to move very quickly, because Russian snipers are operating in this area. We have got to move.
(voice-over): The soldiers wanted us out of there. It was becoming too intense. Just 30 minutes later, we saw why. This warehouse is in the south
of Saltivka. It took a direct hit. This is an area that, after the initial aborted invasion, has been beyond the reach of Russian ground troops. But
now, once again, nowhere is safe.
AMANPOUR: So that was Nima Elbagir in Kharkiv.
And now our colleague Ben Wedeman is further east on the edge of Donbass with Ukrainian defenders as the Russians build up for their coming assault.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All is not quiet on Ukraine's eastern front.
Not far from the town of Barvinkove, Russian mortars warn of what's to come.
(on camera): Ukrainian officials say the offensive in the Donbass region, the eastern part of Ukraine has begun. Perhaps it has.
(voice-over): Or perhaps this is the softening up before the onslaught.
Among Ukrainian troops, bravado.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stronger than them.
WEDEMAN: This officer gives a more sober assessment.
"The Russians are building up for an attack. They're coming and coming and coming," Lieutenant Lyone tells me. "We're not in an easy situation."
Russian shelling Tuesday killed three people, including a 16-year-old girl, according to the town mayor, who has been urging residents to leave.
Not everyone heeds his call. The stubborn few wait for supplies.
"This is our town," insists Galena. "We're staying here. We know our soldiers are protecting us."
Lyudmila looks to a higher power.
"We will pray to God," she says. "Maybe he will save us all."
Eighty-three-year-old Yaliza Veta sits outside her home. She too is staying put.
"My son's wife is scared and will probably leave today," she says, "but I'm not afraid."
And then off she goes on her bicycle, gathering storm be damned.
AMANPOUR: Ben Wedeman reporting.
So, let's turn to our next guest now, who knows a good deal about Putin and his thinking. He's Mikhail Kasyanov. He was once Putin's prime minister.
And now he's a leading political opponent.
Mikhail Kasyanov, welcome back to our program.
MIKHAIL KASYANOV, FORMER RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER: Hello.
AMANPOUR: Can I just start asking you about some of what we have seen today?
You have seen what the Ukrainians purport to be two attacks against Russian positions, one a missile strike, they say, against the Moskva in the Black
Sea -- obviously, the Putin government says that it was an ammunition fault, it was a fire -- and then, apparently, revealing pictures of a
blown-up bridge into Kharkiv while a Russian column was on that bridge.
I just want to ask you, as a former prime minister, what you make of those kinds of successful defensive assaults by Ukraine at this point in the war?
KASYANOV: Yes, we see that, for many days, we can watch just the ongoing defeat of Putin's invaders.
And, in fact, Putin promised and I think he would undertake another attack, because he needs a victory. We know that everything he wants, a victory and
propaganda, to develop this in Russia for Russian people as a great victory or just a victory. In any case, just the day 9th of May, which is Victory
Day in Russia, coming.
And by that day, Putin should present something to Russian people through propaganda and to announce his victory. And I think that is what problems
he is facing every day with these ongoing defeats on one or another front line. That's, of course, creating problems for him.
AMANPOUR: And what do you make of the fact that the U.S. intelligence says that their ongoing ability to have eyes on reveals continued low morale
amongst those Russians who have been sent into this war, that about half of the Russians who are on the ground, according to U.S., are conscripts, with
little training, compared to a professional force, with little inclination to be there, and with just a total confusion about it?
Can you -- I mean, whenever -- when you were there in the Kremlin, was that ever part of a Russian battle plan, to have half the forces be virtually
untrained, inexperienced conscripts?
KASYANOV: Christiane, that was a completely different time. It was 20 years ago.
And that time, me, I launched the reform, so that to diminish conscripts. And, in fact, just -- I put just the law, adopted -- the Parliament adopted
the law, just we reduced the service time from two years to one year. And, in fact, just we started to build up a professional army.
And then, after my departure, they stopped all this. And they continue to have conscripts. And I don't think right now just they use half of the army
just the conscripts, but some of them already there. And we see and we watch all those evidence that people are dead and killed there, because
they're not trained enough, and they have no motivation, et cetera.
That is absolutely the crime activity Mr. Putin undertakes.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think -- you talk about reforms. And we have heard for decades that Putin has been -- quote, unquote -- "reforming and
modernizing" his army.
Why do you think it doesn't appear that way on the ground? They haven't even got command of the skies or dominance of the skies over Ukraine.
KASYANOV: They had. In the beginning, they had.
But right now, we can see just -- and my calls for several times just in different channels, including CNN, that the NATO countries should impose
the no-fly zone. Of course, it's difficult for NATO states to do this.
But we can see right now, we're 45 -- 49 days past, but military supplies, military equipment of supplies to Ukraine. Ukrainians themselves managed to
establish almost no-fly zone.
KASYANOV: And, in fact, right now, the quantity of fight flights by Russian military is just reduced considerably.
And, in fact, just, of course, there is no decisive advantage none of the parts, no Ukraine or Putin's part has, but there right now a completely
different situation on the battlefields.
AMANPOUR: What about the idea of NATO?
One of Putin's great sort of boogeymen, so to speak, is NATO. And he hates the fact that NATO has expanded. And he hates the fact that former Soviet
bloc Warsaw Pact countries have joined NATO. But more and more are wanting to do that now since the invasion, whether it's, we hear, Finland, Sweden
are seriously considering. You just heard Kosovo wants to become -- more and more countries actually want to become part.
And then Russia then starts to threaten about moving weapons here and there. Knowing what you know and what you have seen certainly over the last
50 days, do you believe that Russia will carry out its veiled threats to somehow ratchet up the ante against NATO?
KASYANOV: And, in fact, all these, I will say, explanation that there is a danger or a threat by NATO, that is absolutely artificial reasons Mr. Putin
I will bring you back 20 years ago, when we were -- I was prime minister and he was the first time of the president, first term of the president.
At that time, we had excellent relations with the United States or NATO in general. And, that time, me, as the head of the Cabinet, I announced I was
imagining -- I was dreaming to get Russia as a full-fledged member of NATO.
Mr. Putin, in not such a direct way, but also said he didn't exclude such a position. And we established, together with NATO, just the special council,
Russia-NATO Council. And relations were very good.
Right now, it's a completely different situation, but different Putin. And right now, of course, he creating everything to turn around. And, in fact,
right now, just Baltic states, for example, they are member on NATO's -- members of NATO.
And, in fact, from Estonia to Saint Petersburg, it's only 150 kilometers. Then that Ukraine or Finland or Sweden, it's not additional threat, not
additional danger. And NATO never created a threat to the Russian Federation. That is just imagination of Putin. And he has just distorted
AMANPOUR: But is Putin a threat to NATO?
KASYANOV: Absolutely, Putin is threat to NATO right now. And, right now, we have a front line, Ukraine.
If Putin gets victory, of course, further -- further aggression should be expected. We lost -- or not we. Just the West lost the situation, invasion
in Georgia in 2008. And, that time, just after signing the cease-fire protocol and the plan, after -- three months after, none of the points were
implemented by Putin.
But the West came back to Putin cooperation in the form of business as usual. And Putin accepted this as, I would say, allowed behavior. That's
why we see in 2014 annexation of Crimea.
AMANPOUR: Mikhail Kasyanov, you have obviously been -- I assume you still have contacts in Russia. And you're clearly reading and seeing what's going
There's been a big brain drain and quite an exodus of people who disagree with this war, Russians who disagree with this war. "The Wall Street
Journal" has said: "Those who study Russia says the pace at which people are departing hasn't been since the 1917 revolution."
That seems just extraordinary. Tell me what you know about what people inside are thinking.
In fact, there is a division between generations. Those people who lived in Soviet Union, lived in the territorial communist regime, they understand
that. And Putin is just playing this game. And he presses the same buttons.
As soon as they criticize authority, they could be punished. And that's why those who lived in the Soviet Union, they immediately switched their
behavior in that way then. When someone answered, what your attitude one or another event, especially now, just about war, they say just: I don't
know. I'm not in politics, or just I support the authority, so that -- to be on the safe side.
It means there is not the measurement of real social attitude of this. My feeling is, it's approximately 50/50, because country was splintered for --
or, I would say, for decades, 50 percent approximately or less than 50 supported Putin, and 50 percent are against. And that's now just as a
result of propaganda a lot of people, half of the population, just fooled by this propaganda.
Propaganda is very sophisticated and it's not like in Soviet Union, direct and then stupid. Right now, it's very sophisticated, psychologically
raising propaganda, and people are locked in this situation. Only people -- those people living in the big cities, those middle-class people, they have
an opportunity to get an alternative point of view.
And right now, just Putin's authority blocking these ways of -- sources of information. That's why just Russians in a very difficult situation. They
cannot make their right vision, right judgment of everything what was going on. And Putin's pressure on -- mental pressure on the behavior of people
AMANPOUR: I want to play for you a small portion of an interview with the opposition activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza. As you know, of course, as
everybody knows, he has been jailed in week after he spoke to CNN Plus about the situation. And here is what he said about the Putin regime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST: This regime that is in power in our country today, it's not just corrupt, it's just not
kleptocratic, it's not just authoritarian, it's a regime of murderers. And it is important to say it out loud. And it is really tragic, frankly. I
have no other word for this. That it took a large-scale war in the middle of Europe which Vladimir Putin is now conducting against Ukraine for most
western leaders to finally open their eyes to the true nature of this regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Mikhail Kasyanov, that was on Monday. And what he's saying is, I mean, he's calling it not just a corrupt regime but kleptocratic,
authoritarian, a regime of murderers, and he calls it tragic what's going on. And for, that he's been detained. I mean, obviously these amazing very,
very draconian censorship rules now during this war.
But he's an opposition activist. He claims he had been poisoned just like Navalny, you know, and you're an opposition activist. Do you think any of
these people have any chance against Putin or is that just fantasy by the West, trying to ratchet up the pressure on the country in order to try to
get Russian people to, you know, to whatever they do?
KASYANOV: On this stage, that's absolutely impossible to have change -- a regime change by, I would say, democratic movement in Russia. Last year,
Putin undertook all of his efforts to destroy all democratic opposition, just many people, many activists were put in jail, many of them just had to
immigrate and live in other countries. And a great fear that is absolutely was a tactic last year.
And right now, there is no actual democratic moment exists as a power. But as I said, people started to ask more questions and the propaganda didn't
provide them with appropriate answers. That's why they are maturing and waking up, but not enough during this year to be massive demonstrations on
the streets, and claim that Putin should get out. It is in the future.
If now, in the war with Ukraine, Ukraine will win. And Putin will be seen as defeated and that will be the beginning of Putin's era ends.
AMANPOUR: And, Mikhail Kasyanov, can you just explain from your perspective what is Putin's obsession with Ukraine? I mean, this has been
going on for a long time. And also, the fact that he's wrapped himself partly in a religious blanket, the patriarch of Russia, Kirill, has
actually blessed the military commanders of Russia who have gone in to wage this war. What is Putin's obsession with Ukraine?
KASYANOV: The major point for Mr. Putin is the recognition by the West, the recognition of Crimea as Putin's Russia territory. That's the major
point. All others just like major threat and others, this is just artificial explanation. He needs recognition by himself and the respect on
the wall that he's a great leader, et cetera.
He thought in 2014 that after annexation he would brag to western politicians, and in a few months, they would recognize that Crimea is part
of Russia. But eight years past, and nothing happened like that. West appeared to be more principled than Putin expected. Putin believes -- and
right now, that everything is saleable in the world. The only question is price. But the West based -- appear two principles.
And Transatlantic unity shock Mr. Putin. And those sanctions, the packages of sanctions which were imposed shocked him. He didn't expect such a
reaction. That's why he's nervous. That's why he's so angry on everyone.
AMANPOUR: And very lastly, you know, you're speaking out very boldly about this. Do you fear for your safety?
KASYANOV: As soon as -- right after they adopted another piece of legislation, which now says that for criticism of military operation, the
war, and criticism of authority, just everyone could be put in jail then be sentenced for up to 15 years had to leave Russia. Right now, I'm outside
AMANPOUR: And you're not worried outside Russia either. Mikhail Kasyanov, Former prime minister, thank you so much for joining us.
KASYANOV: Thank you. It's great to be on the program. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, Russia's unprovoked war is making many western democracies rethink their alliance on Putin's natural resources, especially energy. But
expert Frank Vogl says that when it comes to financial corruption Russia is the tip of the iceberg. His new book is called "The Enablers: How the West
Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption - Endangering our Democracy." And he walks Michel Martin through the urgent need to radically reform global
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Frank Vogl, thank you so much for joining us.
FRANK, VOGL, AUTHOR, "THE ENABLERS" AND TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL CO- FOUNDER: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: You know, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a lot of people have been writing about and reporting on the problem of the Russian
oligarchs, people who derive their fortunes from proximity to the Russian president and in turn, you know, funnel money to him, hide money for him
and are agents of his agenda.
But your work stands out because you take it a step further. You say this isn't a Russia problem, this is a worldwide problem. How big of a problem
VOGL: It's an enormous problem that directly challenges our security and our democracy. We are talking about elicit financial flows. That's dirty
money. Money stolen from citizens of maybe $2 trillion a year that goes from all manner of dictatorships and the cronies of dictators, into
investments in the West.
Maybe 600 billion of that comes just to the United States. And if we want to understand that, that is more than the sales every year of Walmart, the
world's biggest retailer. So, in money terms, it's enormous. In political terms, in terms of our democracy and security, that's where the problem
really lies, and that is absolutely of enormous concern to everybody.
MARTIN: The title of your latest book is "The Enablers: How the West Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption - Endangering our Democracy. So, I want
to focus on that. You say this is not just a worldwide problem, affecting countries far beyond Russia. And, you know, individuals who are basically
stealing the wealth of their country for their own purposes, but the West is actually enabling this. How so? How does it work?
VOGL: At a big picture level, western governments have been far too tolerant of the corruption in the kleptocracies, in the autocracies of the
world. Often, we have been more interested in selling commercial goods and economic ties, and putting anticorruption really on one side.
The result is that the co-conspirators of Vladimir Putin to just use the Russian example, these are the oligarchs, they really are beholden to him.
He could put them in jail tomorrow if he liked. Rather they do him favors, he does them favors, and they have entrenched themselves incredibly in
western countries. And we have permitted it. So, we have a certain complicity at a general level.
And then, you get down to the money itself. When you steal as much money as Putin and his cronies, these oligarchs steal, you don't want to keep that
money in Russia, just in case Putin moves his power and the next government comes in and wants to confiscate the cash. So, you want to disburse that
money into solid and secret investments around the world. And to do that, you need lawyers, you need bankers, financial accountants, you need art
dealers, you need property agents based on Wall Street, in Miami, in London, in Zurich, in the world financial centers.
These are the enablers. These are the people who aid and abet the money laundering schemes that now finally, finally western governments are
starting to look at really seriously.
MARTIN: I'm wondering, what is your take on why western governments were so slow to act or even acknowledge that this was happening? Obviously,
there are certain cities, right, hot realistic markets where this is visible. I mean, you see people basically hoarding real estate, maybe they
occupy these properties two weeks out of the year, and people who live in these places say, wait a minute, you know, first grade teachers don't have
a place to live, but somehow you got whole apartment blocks which are sitting empty because, you know, people have kind of bought up and bid up
the price of all of these properties.
So, why have western governments been so slow to even acknowledge that this is happening, even if some governments, you know, make a point of giving
speeches every now and again, denying, you know, decrying corruption, decrying, you know, the extreme inequality in these countries, but this
money is sitting under their noses, right? So, why have they been so slow to react to it?
VOGL: Two reasons. The first reason, the oligarchs and their money and not just the Russians, we're talking about the same sort of tycoons from many
countries, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, and, of course, all of the former Soviet Union countries. They have been very, very good at
ingratiating themselves in the networks, the political networks that we should all be concerned about.
Victor Vekselberg, one of the oligarchs, very close to Putin, attended Donald Trump's inauguration. Vladimir Potanin, perhaps the richest man in
Russia was on the board of Guggenheim Museum, and gave a very nice grant to the Kennedy Center for a Russian lounge, which they now suddenly renamed to
the Circle Lounge.
They have used charity. They have used public relations firms to whitewash their reputations. They have done a great job there. But in addition,
perhaps more importantly, the enablers who I talked about, these lawyers and bankers, real estate people, they're very, very politically networked
as well. They have lobbied very successfully to keep the rules and the laws that govern this kind of activity to a minimum.
And so, we have laws today that do not allow the U.S. government to fully discover even where the assets of most of these oligarchs actually are
because there is no law that says that a real estate company has to do due diligence on its clients when it gets money from a holding company that
supposedly wants to buy a property. They don't even know who the real owner is, and nobody asks because the cash is so attractive.
Cash has won time and time again, and we have put our democracy and security at huge risk as a result.
MARTIN: How is this a problem for western countries that haven't established democratic tradition? Because you say that it is. You say this
is a problem for the West. This has a corrosive effect on the West, how so?
VOGL: Two ways. First of all, it's the direct intervention of the kleptocrats in trying to undermine our elections. If you think, for
example, of Mr. Prigozhin, he is one of Putin's buddies. He finances a group called the Wagner Group, which is a very, very nasty military group.
But he also financed the intelligence operations that the Russians launched in 2016 during the elections to undermine our elections. And he was at it
again in 2018.
That kind of direct intervention -- and by the way, it happened in the German elections just last year as well. It may have happened in the Brexit
votes in Britain as well. That kind of intervention by the oligarchs at the orders of Putin, directly hits our democracy.
But there is a much broader issue. Countries -- let's take Central America as an example. The amount of corruption in the governments of El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras is so great. And violence always accompanies grand corruption, especially on that scale, that we're seeing the citizens of
those countries in desperation, fleeing to try to emigrate into the United States.
We are seeing the same in sub-Saharan Africa as Africans are trying to immigrate into Western Europe. The pressures of corruption at home in many
of these countries, plus violence, and they go together, are resulting in this massive migration pressure. And that directly also affects our
security, our democracy, our economies, and our politics in many, many ways. So, there are those direct connections and then those indirect
MARTIN: We know that journalists have been targeted around the world. Many people assume it's because they are reporting on sort of political
malfeasance sort of perhaps that they're in a conflict zone. But you say it's really investigating corruption that puts them at risk.
VOGL: Enormously. There are a very large number of journalists in Turkey, in Egypt, in prison today, quite apart from China and Russia. And they're
there because they have been investigating and exposing the corruption in their governments.
We've seen exactly the same in a country like Azerbaijan where, in my book, I just happen to mention the names of a number of journalists who have died
in prison. These were all investigative reporters. But in addition to that, if you just take the U.K., the libel laws in the U.K. have been used by the
oligarchs to basically prevent an enormous amount of discussion in public, in the media, about what they own and how they operate, and how they have
front men, including members of the House of Lords to basically look as if these oligarchs are actually harmless. But in fact, they're quite the
And every time they are mentioned in a newspaper as perhaps doing something illegitimate or perhaps even tarnishing their reputation slightly, they'll
go into court with their high-priced lawyers, and slap on a libel action and get an injunction, and they've been very successful at that.
MARTIN: You make the compelling case that civil society has to be supported, but that seems like a long-term process. You know, is there
anything that these countries, that particularly the United States and the U.K., the E.U., Switzerland, for example, are there steps they could be
taking right now?
Because you've seen some sort of high-profile gestures, like, you know, planes that certain people's yachts have been seized. But that's the tip of
the iceberg. What steps need to be taken and are there steps that could be taken right now?
VOGL: Yes. Number one, as I have mentioned, we have to increase investigations, we have to increase prosecutions, and we have to resource
the Justice Departments and the FBIs across the West so that they really can succeed there. We need to put some of these oligarchs on trial.
Second of all, we need to go after the enablers, and we have to be really tough on these bankers and lawyers and consultants and property dealers and
art dealers who are working with the oligarchs to use laundered cash to buy assets in our country. Those people need to be prosecuted.
Third, we need to really look at who owns assets. We need laws. And the U.S. is moving in this direction, so is Europe but far too slowly, that are
called beneficial ownership laws that reveal who really owns those properties that you mentioned earlier, who really owns the yachts, who
really owns the assets.
But as -- that's not enough. We need, at the same time, a much stronger foreign policy that supports civil society, that fights human rights, that
supports investigative journalists across the world.
Just this week, another prominent Russian journalist was thrown into prison for speaking out. We see it week in, week out. We cannot allow the death of
Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia to be forgotten. We cannot allow the death of Boris Nemtsov who was the predecessor as it were in Russia of Alexei
Navalny who's now in prison who fought so valiantly against corruption. Nemtsov was assassinated 200 yards from the Kremlin in 2016. We need to
support civil society as strongly as we can.
And if I may just say so, you know, about my optimism, when I meet civil society activists in so many countries who are risking their life and their
freedom every day in order to try to make their governments transparent and accountable, be it from Ukraine, be it from Belarus, be it from so many
others countries, that encourages me. We need to get our western governments to do far more to support them. And if we have the domestic
policies that I mentioned and at the same time, the foreign policies that I mentioned, I think we can seriously ramp up the global fight against
MARTIN: Before I let you go, Mr. Vogl, you know, western governments were quick to react, at least I can say in the United States, when -- in the
wake of 9/11, there was a very deep interest in the financial networks supporting Islamic terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and then, subsequently
ISIS. And, you know, money controls were put into place. You know, you had to, you know, open a bank account. You know, even one for your kids. You
had to make all sorts of declarations.
And I'm just sort of wondering why if these governments were so quick to react when the question was Islamic terrorism, why are they so slow to
react when it comes to these kinds of money flows that you say contribute to violence and contribute to instability all over the world?
VOGL: The Patriot Act, which came one month after 9/11, which was the first real law to make compliance by banks and particularly about knowing
their customer, doing due diligence on the money inflows, because of the terrorist threat, is very, very important. It was a landmark action.
And it's made many oligarchs and others think twice about using -- directly using U.S. banks. Very often they will put their money into a bank in
Cypress and then, from there, they'll move to the British Virgin Islands or somewhere else. And eventually, get it into the American banking system
rather than going direct because our rules are tougher than those of every other country when it comes to banking compliance.
But nevertheless, some of our biggest banks have been caught red handed in engaging in huge foreign bribery and money laundering. And what has
happened? They have been found, but the top executives, the absolute top executives of those banks have never been criminally prosecuted and none of
them in the United States has ever actually lost their job because of these criminal money laundering activities. And that shows the tolerance that our
society has had about white-collar crime and financial crime, and that has to change.
And we underestimate the scale of this problem at our -- at great cost. And I believe that -- let me give you one example, the Financial Crime Network
Department of the Treasury, known as FinCEN, is the one that receives all of the suspicious notifications from the banks. It gets hundreds of
thousands of them, and it's got a total staff at the moment of just over 300 people.
In the new budget, President Biden is suggesting an increase in its funds so it goes up to 420 people, that's not nearly enough because that is the
nerve center of trying to track the oligarch money and the dirty money coming into America. We need far more resources there.
So, what happens? These suspicious notifications go to FinCEN, half of them don't get properly looked at, and the money flows into our economy. And
who's happy about that? The bankers, the lawyers, the real estate agents, all of those enablers that I mentioned to you.
We need to radically change that system. And I am very hopeful that bipartisan proposals in the Congress today, and I stress bipartisan
proposals, to really address some of these big issues are now going to move forward.
MARTIN: Frank Vogl, thank you so much for talking with us.
VOGL: It's been a pleasure. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Such a robust defense of impunity and not allowing these crimes to go unchecked.
And finally, 50 days into the war, Ukraine has stunned the world with its national solidarity and resistance. So, we leave you with a note on the
importance of solidarity and community.
500 people gathered outside London's Royal Albert Hall to break their Ramadan feast or rather fast with a feast. The steps of famous landmark
became an open Iftar with Muslims sharing a meal and praying together. This celebration of harmony and togetherness will be continued by other
religious communities this weekend.
Of course, this weekend, Easter and the beginning of Passover coincide.
And with that, we end our show tonight. Remember you can always follow me and the show on Twitter, all over the place including on our podcast.
Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.