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Boris Johnson Under Fire; Interview With Evgenia Kara-Murza. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 21, 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.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We're going to get on with delivering for the British people.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): British Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing an investigation into whether he misled Parliament. I ask "New York Times"
London bureau chief Mark Landler, can he ride out the worst crisis of his premiership?
EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: We need to continue fighting. Otherwise, everything that still is alive and breathing in Russia
will be squashed and be destroyed.
AMANPOUR: With her husband arrested by Putin's government, Evgenia Kara- Murza picks up the torch of resistance against Vladimir Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Unfortunately, the Nazis know of our intentions, so we're going to play a humiliating trick on Hitler.
AMANPOUR: Operation Mincemeat, the risky caper that helped change the course of World War II. I speak with bestselling author Ben Macintyre.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is in India for a two-day visit some 5,000 miles from home, but it seems he can't outrun the accelerating
fallout from his Partygate scandal.
Today, the House of Commons launched a formal investigation into whether Johnson misled Parliament about breaking his very own COVID-19 laws. And
the senior M.P. a fellow Conservative, said: "Really, the prime minister should just know the gig is up."
Now Johnson is kicking up a fresh controversy. He's announced a plan to off-load some asylum seekers to Rwanda. And this has prompted immediate
backlash from opposition politicians and human rights defenders worldwide.
Boris Johnson refuses to resign, even though a majority of Britons say he should. Can his well-worn playbook, distract, delay and defer, save him
from accountability this time?
Mark Landler is the London bureau chief for "The New York Times." He's covered this story a lot. And he's joining me now.
Welcome back to the program.
MARK LANDLER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Great to be here, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So you have kept your spotlight on this very unusual political drama that's been unfolding here in Britain.
So, with this vote, and being that he's the first sitting prime minister to actually be fined, i.e., been found to have broken the law while in office,
where do you think this goes from here?
LANDLER: Well, it's very unpredictable.
A few weeks ago, before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, it looked like it was really curtains for Boris Johnson. It looked like he'd almost certainly
face a no-confidence vote in his own party. One might say that the best thing that's happened to Boris Johnson has been the war in Ukraine. It has
changed the subject. It's allowed him to take the offensive, become a big supporter of Ukraine and of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and really has maybe
bought him a reprieve.
Whether it has actually bought him salvation is harder to say, in part because the tale hasn't really fully been told yet. He faces the
possibility of further police fines. There are more parties he is said to have attended that broke COVID rules.
And although the party at the moment doesn't seem to be on the verge of rebelling, developments like Steve Baker, this Conservative M.P., today...
AMANPOUR: Who we just quoted. And he is a senior.
LANDLER: ... is a very -- he's a very prominent figure. He is a rebel.
But the fact that he has now broken ranks, along with Mark Harper yesterday, is a bad sign for Johnson. So while it doesn't look like a
stampede, it looks like there is a -- sort of, again, a chipping away of support.
Much will depend on these local elections in the U.K. on May 6. If the Tories are really hurt in those elections, if it shows that voters have
turned against Johnson, then I think he's in big trouble.
AMANPOUR: So, interesting.
The police today, shortly around this decision to have an investigation, they said they wouldn't impose the next tranche of fines until after these
elections. A lot of people have wondered what kind of game the police are playing.
LANDLER: Well, if you look at what the Met Police have done throughout this story, they have intervened at some fairly important moments in ways
that have, whether unwittingly or intentionally, helped Boris Johnson and the government
And, this time, one has to assume, if they have decided not to impose any fixed-term penalties between now and the election, it suggests that there
might be something damaging for the prime minister and his party. So, again, it looks like the police, whether unwittingly or not, are helping
Boris Johnson. They're getting him through this next very delicate phase, through this election without one more terrible headline.
AMANPOUR: Mark, it does -- I mean, you have obviously and you probably will call them and ask them because you're covering this story. And I don't
know whether they will answer.
But it goes to the rule of law, right? And people have commented that all of this kind of meltdown on essential rule of law issues -- and he's messed
with his own system a lot of times when things don't go his way, from proroguing Parliament during a debate on the Brexit, the idea of
potentially not going forth with things that he's signed and agreed in Brexit, like the Northern Ireland protocol.
When his one of his close members were accused of various irregularities, he just wants to change the system. It does seem that this disregard for
the rule of law, particularly as we're upholding the notion of rule of law within the context of the war in Ukraine...
LANDLER: Yes, indeed. It...
AMANPOUR: ... I mean, seriously, it's a problem.
LANDLER: It is a problem.
And dare I mention Donald Trump? There is a little bit of a parallel here, because one of the things that Donald Trump was most accused of was
normalizing behavior in American politics that heretofore had been unacceptable.
And I think after a couple of years of Boris Johnson, we're beginning to see the same thing, where behavior that in the past simply wouldn't have
cleared the bar, would have been declared unacceptable is now suddenly just being written off as, well, that's politics.
Johnson's already disregarded his own independent ethics adviser in a previous case involving a minister who violated the ministerial code. It
now -- he's made it clear he plans to do that himself, regardless of whether he's fined yet again by the police.
And so there's this question of an accumulated erosion of legitimacy in government, of public respect for government. And that's a damaging thing.
We saw it in the U.S. and I think we're seeing it a bit here in the U.K.
AMANPOUR: Well, so to that point, let me just play -- this is Tory M.P. William Wragg in the debate today on the idea of what a lot of Boris'
Johnson's allies are saying, oh, you can't remove him during a war.
Of course, it's not a war in the U.K., but, nonetheless, this is what he says to counter that argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM WRAGG, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: The Ukraine situation is of huge importance, but the invasion of a sovereign nation by a dictatorial
aggressor should not be a reason why we should accept lower standards ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, again, just to keep hammering on this, there's been a lot made of, let's say, Joe Biden's campaign promise, his presidential promise
to raise democracy over autocracy.
And this erosion of democracy in the heart of our own democracies plays right into the Putin playbook, doesn't it?
LANDLER: Well, it does, indeed.
And, after all, one of the major allegations that the U.K. and the U.S. made against the Russians in the years leading up to this is that they
interfered in our elections, that they sought to undermine and pervert our elections. So, for elected leaders then to turn around and not appear to
abide by the laws themselves only in some ways helps the arguments of people like Putin or Viktor Orban in Hungary or others.
I mean, I would just make one very quick point about this issue of, well, now's the wrong time to change leaders. Britain has a history of changing
leaders during very difficult moments of either war or other security crises.
So, Britain does this. And I think some critics would say, we have a functioning government. We are not suddenly going to abandon Ukraine if
Boris Johnson is not the prime minister.
AMANPOUR: To wit, Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was stabbed in the back...
AMANPOUR: ... by her own party during the lead-up to the Gulf War...
AMANPOUR: ... where she was a strong defender of pushing Saddam Hussein back.
But, anyway, here is Boris Johnson on Tuesday explaining the -- trying to explain the situation he was fined for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Let me also say, not by way of mitigation or excuse, but purely, purely because it explains my previous words in this house, that it did not
occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the Cabinet Room just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy could amount to a breach of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It did not occur to him.
I mean, this is the argument that some of his allies have made, where they have tried to in a sense diminish it and say this is like getting a
speeding ticket for driving 45 in a 35 zone.
I think the reason that this is very important is, it had been the case heretofore that, if you misled Parliament, even unintentionally, that was a
an offense for which you should resign. And so what you're seeing there is Boris Johnson saying: I never unintentionally -- intentionally or even
inadvertently sought to mislead you.
And that's critical for him, not so much with the public, but with his standing in the Parliament.
AMANPOUR: And, by the way, the public, according to the most reputable polls, show that they actually want him to resign by a big majority.
LANDLER: And that, I think, gets to the heart of the matter for whether Boris Johnson survives this or not.
If he remains popular and remains someone that is party believes can win an election, they're likely to stand behind him. But I think the moment that
they conclude that he's no longer a winner at the polls, I think he loses party support, because, remember, the reason that Boris Johnson is party
leader is not because he has a legislative agenda or an ideology.
This is not Margaret Thatcher 2.0. This is a guy who is a proven winner at the polls. I think his popularity, for that reason, is somewhat
transactional within his party. And the moment these lawmakers decide they could lose their seats over Boris Johnson, I think they will pull their
AMANPOUR: And just on the issue of principle, the justice minister, David Wolfson, he did resign in the wake of the fine.
And he said -- and you alluded to this, Mark -- "We can only credibly defend democratic norms abroad, especially at a time of war in Europe, if
we are and are seen to be resolutely committed both to the observance of the law and also to the rule of law."
We have discussed that a bit. But the truth is that Boris Johnson actually has committed this government to a lot of support for those trying to
defend the rule of law in Ukraine, missiles, ammunition, support. He went to Kyiv. Zelenskyy seems to be very much in favor of him.
And, by the way, I think, by all accounts, he's handled himself, acquitted himself very well. I mean, there's no question that U.K. was early in the
supplying of lethal defensive weapons. They have done more than virtually any other country. I think he's played a constructive and persuasive role
with other G7 leaders, not least Joe Biden.
Going to Kyiv and walking around in the streets of Kyiv with Zelenskyy was a courageous thing. So, that's not to take away from the way he has treated
and behaved during the Ukraine war. But you can't sort of just say, OK, well, because he did that, we should completely turn a blind eye to him
being in a position that is unlike any other prime minister in living memory, which is to say, a person who misled Parliament and a person who
has been found to have broken the law.
That's simply not something that's been tolerated in British politics up until now. And I think simply saying, because we're in a moment of crisis,
we should overlook it, I just don't know whether that's going to wash.
AMANPOUR: So where does the great debate on breaking with traditions, norms and kind of moral promises, on the idea of refugees, for instance,
where does that land the prime minister?
There has been this extraordinary situation where this government has decided to send untold numbers of people already here to Rwanda. And Rwanda
is not viewed in most of the world as the most democratic state, frankly. And there's a lot of backlash, including from the highest member of the
Church of England, the leader, the archbishop of Canterbury.
Where do you think he's -- where do you think Britain stands on this hugely important issue right now?
LANDLER: Well, this principle of giving asylum seekers a chance to have their application considered is really core to the international order in
the postwar period, and something that Britain and other countries have generally adhered to.
So this announcement really struck many people, legal activists, the United Nations Refugee Commission and others, as just wholly out of keeping with
the way Western countries should think and act. It's also, frankly, somewhat cynical, because the actual process of taking an asylum seeker and
flying them to Rwanda is going to be extremely expensive.
It's going to be subject to legal challenge in almost every single case. And a lot of people who are experts in the -- in this area will tell you
they doubt it's ever going to happen. So the question is, why would the government put so much capital behind it?
AMANPOUR: And? Well?
LANDLER: And the answer I think is, it's political red meat for an important part of Boris Johnson's coalition, the people who voted for
Brexit, hardcore vote leave supporters, are people who have always cared deeply about immigration.
It really makes immigration kind of a red meat issue. This is a government that has never hesitated to use sort of culture war issues to drive its
agenda. And so the cynics -- or, rather, I should say, skeptics would say, they don't even care whether it ever happens.
As long as they have it out in the bloodstream, and then can claim that the left is standing in the way, they will score a victory, they will shore up
their support. It'll help them with these are all-important elections.
AMANPOUR: So this is the former top civil servant at the Home Office, who has basically said it's inhumane, it's morally reprehensible, it is
probably unlawful, and it may well, as you said, be unworkable.
And even Theresa May, former prime minister, this is what she said in Parliament. And she was really tough, I mean really hard-line on
immigration when she was head of the Home Office. But this is what she said about this plan:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Can I say with respect to my right honorable friend, and from what I have heard and seen so far of this
policy, I do not support the removal to Rwanda policy, on the grounds of legality, practicality and efficacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So they do it in pragmatic terms. At least, that's what she said.
The truth of the matter is, though, isn't it that the sort of moral duty and the norms since World War II of really trying to help refugees and
giving them has been denigrated for a long time now. The U.S. sent Haitians to Guantanamo.
AMANPOUR: Australians have been putting them on Nauru Island. I mean, there's a lot -- and the Poles didn't allow Afghans and Iraqis to come in,
before allowing all these Ukrainians to come in.
So there's a lot of double standards and pushback against the idea of refugees and asylum.
And it, in fact, becomes very glaring in the case of the U.K. right now, because the U.K. has made an offer to Ukrainian refugees...
LANDLER: ... to come and be housed with families and get support. And although it got off to a slow start, that is now beginning to really gather
But it inevitably sets up this idea that, well, Ukrainians, mostly white, are accepted and welcomed into homes, and then people from Yemen or
Afghanistan or Somalia, people of color, who come crossing the channel in these dinghies and these wretched conditions, taking enormous risks, arrive
in Kent, on the shores of Kent, and the rounded up by the military and then flown to Rwanda.
It just sets up a -- I think a very difficult moral question. And I think that that's what the critics are really zeroing in on.
AMANPOUR: And people don't like it either.
AMANPOUR: Mark Landler, thank you so much indeed.
So, as we just said, Johnson and his allies have tried to say that he can't be removed in the midst of a war, the one in Ukraine. Russia continues
shelling Mariupol. And yet Ukrainian forces there are still holding out.
Russians protesting Putin's invasion face harsh consequences, including the opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was detained by police last week
as he was preparing to be interviewed by our own Walter Isaacson.
Walter now speaks with his wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, about her husband's continued struggle against Putin, even from behind bars.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Evgenia Kara-Murza, welcome to the show.
KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak out on behalf of my husband.
And my husband has been speaking out on behalf of so many oppressed Russians for so many years. So it's very important for me to be here to be
able to speak out on his behalf now that he cannot do it on his own.
ISAACSON: We were sitting here just a week ago preparing to interview your husband, the great Russian opposition leader.
And, suddenly, we got word that he had been detained. And we were just sitting here waiting for the show to begin, and he got arrested. Tell me
KARA-MURZA: Well, he's -- he was in Moscow, and still is, obviously.
He had just driven home in his car to his home in Moscow. He parked his car. And he hadn't even had a chance to get out of it when he saw five
policemen running to his car. They asked him to get out of the vehicle. He asked them in return to identify themselves. They refused to do that.
They refused his right to call his lawyer. They refused his request to call his family to let us know that he was OK. He was dragged to a police van
that was stationed nearby and taken to a police department in Moscow, one of the police departments in Moscow, over the Khamovniki.
He was held there overnight with no access to his lawyer. He was given one phone call. He called me and let me know under which article he was being
told. Charges against him were absolutely ridiculous. The official police report said that he had behaved erratically on seeing police officers, that
he had changed the trajectory of his movement, quickened his pace and trying to (AUDIO GAP)
Well, he couldn't have done any of those things because he was sitting in his car. He was not even on his feet to have done any of those things. But
this is an article under which you can be sent to jail right away for up to 15 days, which they did. They tried him the next day.
Thankfully, his lawyer was present. But, still, they tried him. That court session took only about half-an-hour to 45 minutes. Everything was settled
and done. And he was sent to jail for 15 days.
ISAACSON: On the morning he was arrested or right before he was arrested, he was on CNN. And he called Putin's government a regime of murderers.
Do you think that's the real cause that he got arrested for?
KARA-MURZA: My husband has been very outspoken, fiercely outspoken against this regime's atrocities, against this regime's crimes for years and years
and years, because, with Russian society, Putin has been persecuting and killing, imprisoning his opponents for years.
Even when we talk about Ukraine, this war didn't really start two months ago. It began in 2014, when Putin invaded Crimea. It's just then he didn't
receive any strong response from the West to his actions, and he felt emboldened, and he decided, well, I can go further. I can just invade the
My husband has been very outspoken. He has been advocating for the introduction of targeted sanctions against murderers and thieves in the
Putin regime since 2010. His close friend and colleague Boris Nemtsov paid the ultimate prize for his advocacy. He was killed. He was shot on the
Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge in Moscow in 2015.
My husband was poisoned for the first time only two months after Boris Nemtsov's murder. And he was poisoned again in 2017. And thanks to this
amazing independent investigation by Bellingcat and "Insider" and BBC, we now know the names of the people from the FSB team who had been following
him, the same FSB team that followed Alexey Navalny before his poisoning.
And we know...
ISAACSON: Now, you're talking about the Russian secret police.
ISAACSON: And you're sure that they're the ones who poisoned your husband?
We now know the names of those people who tried to kill my husband twice. And when he got up, when he was able to walk after his second poisoning, he
took his cane and went back to Moscow again. And since the beginning of the war, my husband has been fiercely opposing it and fiercely protesting it,
raising this absolute atrocity of the war against our closest neighbors on every platform he was able to reach.
And, yes, I believe in Russia, nowadays, you can get sent to prison for up to 15 years for calling this war a war. So there is no surprise that my
husband was detained.
ISAACSON: He's supposed to be in jail only 15 days, not 15 years, which means he would get out next week.
Are you hopeful that he will get out next week? Or do you think they're going to continue to hold him?
KARA-MURZA: Under Putin's regime, we never know what we might expect. And we cannot be sure that Vladimir will be released next week.
We have to remember that over 15,000 people have been arrested in Russia since the beginning of Putin's hostilities in Ukraine. These are people who
go out in the streets protesting against the war, despite all odds and despite these restrictive measures and these laws that can send you to
prison for up to 15 years.
And the stories I'm getting from everywhere are amazing in their absurdity, in -- they're just unimaginable. A young girl was arrested for holding a
blank sheet of paper. Another -- young Russian artist from Saint Petersburg was arrested for switching price tags at a local supermarket with the anti-
Two people, one in Ufa and one in Moscow, were arrested for holding silent peaceful actions with a copy of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" in the
streets. In Khabarovsk, a man was just arrested very recently. He came out with a slogan, "I'm not afraid."
A few people who gathered around him started chanting: "We're not afraid. We're not afraid."
They got all arrested and taken to police detention centers. Hundreds of people are now serving unlawful jail sentences all across Russia for their
opposition to this war.
ISAACSON: Your husband is in jail in Moscow, and is allowed one phone call every day. How are his conditions? What does he say when he calls?
KARA-MURZA: Well, I'm very thankful to have this one call from him on a daily basis. I never know when the call might come. it might come at 4:00
a.m., or it might come at 9:00 a.m. He never knows when he's going to be allowed to make that phone call.
My husband is a very optimistic man. He keeps in good spirits. He never loses his faith that we will prevail, even if it's going to be harder than
we could ever have imagined. He keeps working from jail, from behind the bars.
"The Washington Post" just published his article just a little while ago that he wrote in prison and passed through his lawyer.
ISAACSON: The very last line of that article, if I may say, is a very strong one.
He wrote: "I have never been so sure that Russia will be free."
Why is he so sure of that? Why are you sure of that?
KARA-MURZA: Because we know that, despite everything, protests continue.
Even there -- so, even if there's solitary, even if persecutions are getting this absolutely massive scale, they're still going on, and because
Vladimir, in this very article he wrote himself, there are a couple of people in the next cell who got arrested for graffiti, anti-war graffiti.
Another person got arrested for opposing the war and is serving his jail sentence in the same detention center. So -- and that's just one detention
center in Moscow and they're just the people that my husband got a chance to meet.
Imagine how many detention centers are now full of such protesters all across the country. This is why we're hopeful that we will prevail, somehow
we will. The good has to prevail over the evil if there is no other way. So many Russians had to leave Russia fleeing Vladimir Putin's persecutions
because they were afraid for their lives, for their safety, for the lives of the children.
And they continue opposing the war from outside. They're just regular Russians who help Ukrainian refugees in Poland, in Hungary, in Germany.
There are important Russian-led initiatives, for example, the anti-war committee that my husband's in is this -- this Anti-War Committee was
founded by a group of prominent Russian opposition figures, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, like leading economists Sergei Guriev, Sergei Aleksashenko, a
well-known Russian writer Viktor Shenderovich, ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov.
ISAACSON: Your husband is the only one of that group in Russia, staying in Russia as much as possible. He's been poisoned twice, and yet he keeps
going back. And you go back and visit him, especially after he was poisoned.
What -- why does he do that? Why does he insist on staying in Moscow, when the other people have left?
KARA-MURZA: Because he believes that this would be the biggest gift for the Russian regime, for the Russian government if he just fled, because he
believes that, as a Russian politician, he has to be where his people is fighting against this evil regime, and because I think actually wants to
show by his own example that people should not be afraid.
This is not a moment to be afraid, even if it's very scary. We have to somehow push through our fears, because of the atrocities Putin's regime is
committing in Ukraine, because of the atrocities Putin's regime is committing against his own people, because we need to continue fighting.
Otherwise, everything that still is alive and breathing in Russia will be squashed and be destroyed. And he cannot -- he cannot allow that. He loves
his country. He's a true patriot.
ISAACSON: You have told us about the stories of people now who have been protesting.
Your husband's in jail with people who have been protesting. Yet we also hear that maybe 80 percent of the Russian people support Putin and support
the invasion. Is that because it's ridiculous for us to put any stock in polls done in an authoritarian regime or is it because he has such control
of the propaganda that people are supporting him in Russia?
KARA-MURZA: This is a rather difficult question. First, yes, I want to say, you should not trust opinion polls conducted in a totally utilitarian
state because this is what Russia has become over the past two months.
Imagine a situation when you live in the country where there is no independent justice system, where no independent medias. You're not
protected, your rights are not protected in any way. And you are approached by someone in the street, and this person asks you, do you support Putin's
regime? Do you support President Putin's special operation in Ukraine? What are you going to say? Do you think that you have all the parents that you
need to take care of, you have young children that you need to raise and you need to feed?
Yes, you might be afraid to speak out. Some people just walk by without answering the question. Others will just say, yes, we do support it, and
walk by again. And other people who say, yes, we do support the special operation in Ukraine, well, many of those people do not really understand
what's happening. Putin has started this propaganda war when he came to power, and it took him 22 years to win this war. Now, we have nothing left
in terms of opposition independent objective media outlets.
ISAACSON: Your husband and yourself have been very strongly in favor of sanctions. Now, there have been pretty strict sanctions put on place. To
what extent do you know if it's hurting the average Russian and to what extent do you think it's hurting the Russian economy?
KARA-MURZA: My husband has been advocating for targeted sanctions against thieves and murderers in Putin's regime since 2010. (INAUDIBLE) was adopted
in 2012, then became the Global Minitzkilo (ph), and this is really evolutionary. This is a major legislation. But unfortunately --
ISAACSON: And the legislation put sanctions on oligarchs because --
ISAACSON: -- Bill Browder and your husband did it in honor of a lawyer who was killed, right?
KARA-MURZA: Absolutely. And after Boris Nemtsov's murder, my husband continued working closely with William Browder to push for more sanctions.
Unfortunately, they started sanctions, the majority of them came only after the war broke out, and it is tragic that it has taken the rest of the world
over 22 years and a bloody war in the middle of Europe to realize what this regime actually brings to the world, that they cannot treat Mr. Putin as a
partner, that they can to the reset relations with him, that they have to actually push back and fight him.
And, well, had these targeted sanctions been introduced by five, seven, maybe 10 years ago, this war would never have happened. Of this, I am
convinced. And now, we need more sanctions, and these sanctions will be more massive. They affect the entire Russian economy. And, yes, when Mr.
Putin is finally in jail, when he's serving -- when he finally stands trial for all the war crimes that he has already committed in Ukraine, and that
he's committing against his own population in Russia, when his fleet is finally imprisoned for a very long time, I hope, Russia will be left in
We cannot forget about that Mr. Putin is not erasing Ukraine -- not just Ukraine from the face of the earth, he's also destroying Russia. The
country will be in ruins and we will have to rebuild everything from scratch. And I know that my husband will be one of those people who will be
very much involved in this work of rebuilding.
ISAACSON: We hear reports that people are taking pictures of the dead Russian soldiers, their faces and sending them back to Russia, and they're
getting back to the mothers of these soldiers. Tell us the power you think that the mothers in Russia might be having now?
KARA-MURZA: I cannot imagine the pain. I cannot imagine the misery. It's absolutely -- even these thoughts are absolutely (INAUDIBLE) and so many
people are dying for no reason at all. This war should never have happened. And as a mother, I think I'm already trying to do my little part in
speaking out against this war and in stopping it as soon as possible.
I cannot imagine the pain these women must feel. I cannot imagine the pain Ukrainian parents are feeling when they lose their children, when they lose
-- it's absolutely heartbreaking. You know, this is -- I'm sorry for being so emotional, but this is something that should never have happened. I wake
up with the news from Ukraine. I go to bed with the news from Ukraine, and there's just -- there are just tears, tears and this rage that we feel
inside. This should not be happening.
ISAACSON: Evgenia Kara-Murza, thank you so much for joining us.
KARA-MURZA: Thank you for having me here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Russia's war on Ukraine was a prime topic also in last night's heated French presidential debate. Indeed, Emmanuel Macron accused
his far-right challenger, Marine Le Pen, of being beholden to Vladimir Putin, and trying to sever European ties. But with the polls showing a
tight race, what will make the difference in Sunday's runoff. Correspondent Melissa Bell has more from Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was the only debate of a campaign that has seen two very different visions for France pitted against
one another. On one hand, that of the incumbent, the centrist, globalist, Emmanuel Macron. On the other, that of the far-right nationalist, Marine Le
Pen. The debate began on questions of domestic concern, in particular the cost of living which has been central to Le Pen's campaign.
MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL RALLY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Here again, I must be the spokesperson of the French people because, Mr.
Macron, I heard you with your government, you are delighted to have increased French people's purchasing power. But me, I only saw French
people who told me about their problems with purchasing power. I only saw French people who told me they can't make it anymore, they can't get by,
that they can't make ends meet at the end of the month.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I am proud that altogether we have made it possible to create 1.2 million pays lips,
because I was looking at your program, your 22 measures, there is not the word unemployment in it, which is striking.
BELL: The war in Ukraine is another issue that has loomed large in the campaign so far, and that featured heavily in Wednesday night's debate with
Emmanuel Macron attacking Marine Le Pen not only on her historic proximity to Vladimir Putin but her party's loan from a Russian bank back in 2014.
MACRON (through translator): You still haven't paid back that loan.
LE PEN (through translator): It's quite long, Mr. Macron, yes, we are a poor party but this is not shameful.
MACRON (through translator): But I never thought it shameful. But my problem, Ms. Le Pen, I hope you'll recognize is that all this creates a
LE PEN (through translator): I have no dependence other than repaying my loan, Mr. Macron.
MACRON (through translator): But your loan was not contracted with just any bank, even for Russia, but with the interests, power, and everyone will
be able to verify it. And so, you need to own up to it. That's all. Own up to it, Mrs. Le Pen.
BELL: From Russia, the candidates moved to Europe. On one hand, Emmanuel Macron, the pro-European federalist. On the other, Marine Le Pen, who while
she's come back a little bit from her more Eurosceptic positions of the last few years still wants to see Europe reformed in order that it become a
much looser alliance of sovereign nations.
LE PEN (through translator): Let me say to Emmanuel Macron that there is no European sovereignty because there is no European people. There is a
sovereignty when there's a people. There's a French sovereignty. There's no European sovereignty. And I have understood that you wish to replace French
with European sovereignty. You've done it symbolically by replacing the French flag with the European one under the Arc de Triomphe.
MACRON (through translator): Changing a club on your own by reducing your membership fee by saying, I choose my rules, well, either the others follow
you because that's Europe, there are 27 of us around the table or you go your own way. And what you describe in your program sounds like going your
own way. The second thing you proposed is an alliance with Russia, which is amongst your priorities, it's always in your program, it's amazing.
BELL: In 2017, Marine Le Pen was widely seen to have lost the election on the night of the debate. This time, she'd spent a couple of days preparing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Melissa Bell reporting from Paris. And a programming note here, we'll be broadcasting from Paris Sunday and Monday with special coverage of
the election results.
Now, western intelligence has played a key role in the run up to the Ukrainian invasion. And actually, it still does. Telegraphing each new move
by the Kremlin and putting Vladimir Putin on notice. The new movie, "Operation Mincemeat," in theaters now and coming to Netflix May 11th,
tells the story of a more old school intelligence operation, a seemingly impossible scheme to distract Nazi forces from a crucial British invasion
of Sicily during World War II. Here's a look at the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan begins in Spain where the corpse will wash up on shore bearing classified letters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The corpse carrying fake documents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the fascist network there, we can quite literally throw the documents right into enemy hands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime minister, that's too big a risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fate of the world is at stake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is highly implausible. So, when can it be ready?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Acclaimed author and historian, Ben Macintyre wrote the book on this reddest of herrings, "Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a
Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory," and he's joining me now live in the studio.
BEN MACINTYRE, AUTHOR, "OPERATION MINCEMEAT": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: The film has got a lot of attention, obviously based on your book. Just broaden out a little bit of what we heard in the trailer for
viewers who won't know, and I didn't -- I'd never heard of "Operation Mincemeat."
MACINTYRE: No. I mean, it's an extraordinary story. It's 1943, the allies are poised in North Africa for the huge invasion of Europe that everybody
knows is coming, the Americans, the British, the Canadians, they're all ready to go, and there's an obvious target, which is Sicily. Because if you
control Sicily, you control the Central Mediterranean.
So, everyone knew that the most likely place was Sicily. So, the job of the spies and spooks was to try and convince Hitler that it wasn't going to be
Sicily. Actually, this huge armada of troops was heading for Greece. And it was a huge operation. I mean, the deception operation was massive, quite
rightly, as you say, it is still is in modern warfare. But the center piece was this whole thing was something called "Operation Mincemeat," which went
And believe it or not, the idea came from Ian Fleming. I mean, I laugh because it sounds so outlandish that the father of James Bond stories
should have been a naval intelligence officer operating inside, deep inside the British secret world came up with the idea and it was the idea went as
follows. Let's get a dead body, let's give it a completely false identity. We will then float it somewhere, with false papers, indicating a looming
attack on Greece, and we'll put it somewhere where the Germans will find it. And they chose Spain because they knew there was a particular spy
network, a German spy network operating in neutral Spain at the time.
AMANPOUR: So, it does sound absurd, right? And actually, the trailer gives a little bit of a yes minister quality to all of this, you know,
frightfully British, you know, discussing what sounds like a crazy, crazy scheme. I mean, seriously, floating a body and just hoping somebody's going
to find it?
MACINTYRE: Well, imagine what health and safety would say about that today, I mean, you wouldn't get away with it. It was outlandish, and -- but
it was also intentional. I mean, one of the things that Churchill was brilliant at was identifying that what he called corkscrew minds could
achieve things that much more laterally thinking couldn't do.
And so, he encouraged these people, and they were not ordinary spies, they were eccentrics, they were old balls, they were people who didn't really
fit into the kind of military establishment, and Churchill just threw them together and sort of saw what happened. And in a way, it does sound mad.
But it was just unbelievable enough to be believable. And that was the essence of it.
AMANPOUR: So, these particular corkscrew minds were quietly -- you know, kind of sort of geeky characters, right?
MACINTYRE: That's right.
AMANPOUR: Describe them. I mean, one is tall and lanky. The other one is - -
MACINTYRE: Well, the two people at the center of it went by the wonderful names of Montagu and Cholmondeley. I mean, you couldn't get much more
British than that.
AMANPOUR: That's their real names?
MACINTYRE: That's their names. And one was a (INAUDIBLE) and one was a lawyer, and the other one was a sort of -- was an RAF officer who was too
tall to fly. They couldn't fit him in the cockpit. So, neither of them were sort of active warriors but they wanted to kind of fight a secret war. And
they set about creating this character as if they were writing a novel.
AMANPOUR: So, this character is the dead body.
MACINTYRE: The dead body.
AMANPOUR: By the way, where did they get the dead body?
MACINTYRE: Well, this is one of the elements of the story that has never been told before until the British archives were released. He was a Welsh
homeless man who had just died of rat poison. I mean, it's a tragic story. We still don't know whether he committed suicide or whether it was an
accident, whether he was so hungry that he'd eaten bread laced with rat poison. But his body turned up in a mortuary.
And these MI5 and MI6 they said, right, we'll have him. And they kept him on ice, literally, while they built this false identity for him. And that's
one of the more extraordinary elements of the story, really, is that they really invented a character, and they gave him a false name and they gave
him a background and they gave him what's called wallet litter in spy --
AMANPOUR: See, that. I read that in the research and I'm thinking, wow, the details had to be so carefully thought out. Wallet litter. Go on.
Explain that what that is.
MACINTYRE: Every single element. The point was that when the Germans got hold of this, as they hoped they would, they would go through the contents
of his pockets and they would realize or believe, be fooled into thinking this was a real person. So, he had ticket stubs, an unwrapped mint, a
letter from the bank manager, one from his father, and crucially, and this is in a way where the kind of novelistic element went slightly over the
top, he had a love letter from an invented lover called Pam, written, in fact, by the wonderfully played by Penelope Wilton in this film who was a
real person, who put her heart into writing this fake love letter and --
AMANPOUR: Was she part of the spy group?
MACINTYRE: Oh, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: They were all part of the group?
MACINTYRE: Absolutely. They were all involved. They were all working literally underground in a room called Room 13 under the admiralty, not far
from where we are now. And so -- and also, crucially a photograph. They want -- they thought they'd better send a photograph of this invented
lover, Pam. So, one of the secretaries in the MI5 office provided a photograph or rather a comely (ph) photograph of herself in a bathing suit,
which was then sort of stuck in his pocket.
And the whole idea was to sort of create a fiction that the Germans would believe was true. And, of course, the key element of all of that were the
false documents in a briefcase, chained to his wrist, so that when this body floated ashore from a submarine, secretly taken to the Bay of Cadiz,
he would be bringing with him the information that would send the German army in the wrong direction.
AMANPOUR: So, that -- yes.
MACINTYRE: So, instead of forcing Sicily, they would take troops out of Sicily and move them elsewhere.
AMANPOUR: And that's what they did?
MACINTYRE: Astonishingly, that is what they did. And the reason we know that's what they did is because the Bletchley Park intercepts, which your
viewers will know about, the Enigma intercepts, enabled British intelligence, passing it on to the Americans, obviously, to track this lie
as it was swallowed by the Germans at every state, so they could watch it going down the gullet of German intelligence.
AMANPOUR: It's really, really incredible. And, you know, obviously, there's some -- OK. Why is it called "Operation Mincemeat"?
MACINTYRE: It's was -- it's a sort of reflection of quite how odd these people were. They liked -- and British intelligence, you're issued with a
whole set of possible names. They chose "Operation Mincemeat" because they thought it was funny. Here was a dead body, hence, mincemeat, and they were
also going to somehow make mincemeat of the Germans, it was just a sort of rather tasteless macabre joke.
AMANPOUR: You know, at first, before I'd read into it, and when I heard that the film was out and you had written the book, I thought it was a
deception for D-day because that was also a very elaborate deception.
AMANPOUR: I mean, were they thick, the Germans? I mean, they got really, really, really tricked on two major occasions.
MACINTYRE: Two occasions. Well, interestingly, of course, mincemeat was to try to convince them that what the obvious thing that was going to happen
was not going to happen. And, of course, the D-day invasion was the opposite.
AMANPOUR: Right. But they still tricked them.
MACINTYRE: They still tricked them. You know, it's not that they were stupid. I mean, the Germans were perfectly capable of launching their own
deception operations. And indeed, one of the elements of "Operation Mincemeat" was the fear that actually while it looked like the Germans were
swallowing this, they might actually be feeding back.
AMANPOUR: Right. Counter.
MACINTYRE: Counter misinformation.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
MACINTYRE: And as the Colin Firth character says, we may be the victims of the greatest ruse that has ever been played. So, the Germans were not
stupid. They were on the whole lateral -- more lateral thinkers, if you like. They -- if you like, the British tend to think in corkscrew ways and
the Germans tend to think in straight lines.
And also, because it was such a hierarchical organization, German intelligence, they tended to tell the boss what the boss wanted to hear.
AMANPOUR: Well --
MACINTYRE: And that's fatal.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, look, we're talking about exactly what you have just said at a moment where American and other intelligence has determined
that the boss in the current war, Putin, is perhaps or has been anyway getting not the truth but what the others think the boss wants to here.
MACINTYRE: Well, that's the big danger, in all intelligence services actually. And it's particularly acute in dictatorships, which is that if
you are a spy gathering intelligence and the boss has made it perfectly clear what he wants to hear, if you tell him what he doesn't want to hear,
you'll be fired. If you tell him what he does want to hear and it turns out to be wrong, as appears to have happened in Ukraine, you'll be fired.
So, your only option really is to tell him what he wants to hear and pray that it turns out to be right. So, that's no way to run any kind of
intelligence service. And in truth, that is also what really undid the Nazis in the Second World War. They were so determined to please the bosses
that they never really questioned anything that looked like it might contradict that.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it really is incredible to think of because, I mean, it's just a real live example that we're watching right now. What made you focus
on this? Why did you -- where did you find this? Why did you want to do it in the book?
MACINTYRE: Well, it's a story that is it -- it actually came out, the story or the bones of the story -- sorry, that's a not a very good
reference, but, you know, the -- a good metaphor. But the essence of the story came out quite soon after the war because Montagu wrote an account of
it, called "The Man Who Never Was."
Now -- which was a sort of memoir. But the problem with the book is that it was itself partly deceptive. He covered up the fact that the body had
effectively been stolen. And there was a lot that he didn't say because it was all under the official secrets, and a lot that he didn't know,
actually. And my lucky break, I wish I could claim it was anything else, came in the -- when the British government, there was a great sea change in
attitudes toward official secrecy in this country when it was suddenly decided that intelligence files could be released to the public. And the
mincemeat files were released.
And I'm not exaggerating, Christiane, they stand that high, they're absolute catnip to any historian because they can give you a really
detailed account of what was happening moment by moment. And so, that was the changing moment for me. It was -- so, "Operation Mincemeat" sort of was
born really out of this incredibly rich source material.
AMANPOUR: And you know, what do you think of the film? I know you had a lot to do with it, clearly, but is it faithful to the book? Colin Firth
plays -- I mean, you know, he's so famous for doing quite a lot of World War II characters.
MACINTYRE: It is astonishingly faithful to the book. I mean, the book is a complicated story. "Operation Mincemeat" was a very dense and complicated
story. But without simplifying it or boiling it down, they have managed to retain the sort of historical truth of it, the essence of it is absolutely
there, and it's an extraordinary -- well, I wouldn't say that, but it's an extraordinary film because it's both a spy story, an adventure story and a
romance, and a comedy in some ways.
MACINTYRE: Because the people running this were fully alive to the absurdity of what they were doing. And that comes through in the film, and
it's wonderfully done by John Madden.
AMANPOUR: And it was noticed and he of "Shakespeare in Love," right, and wonderful films, "Hotel Marigold," "Hotel et cetera." Quite a lot of
brilliant authors who write brilliant stuff, I mean, have been in the spy world, right, like Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, others.
MACINTYRE: It's no accident, I think. I mean, yes, you've got -- I mean, some of the greatest writers of the 20th century, particularly in Britain
were also spooks. As you say, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, Ian Fleming himself, John Buchan (ph), they all were in the spy
world. And I have longed thought in a way that's because spying is not so very different from writing fiction. You create an invisible imagined world
and you try to lure someone else into it.
AMANPOUR: Ben Macintyre, thank you so much, such an entertaining watch for everybody.
And finally, a big day for two of Britain's national treasures, Queen Elizabeth turns 96 today. To mark the occasion, the royal family shared
this photo of her majesty with her fell ponies. Of course, she's also celebrating a record 70 years on the throne, which will be marked here with
full pomp at the end of May.
And the United Nations has just named the other national treasure, nationalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, 95 years old, as
champion of the earth, marking his dedication to the natural world and fighting climate change with such block busters as "Planet Earth" and "The
Blue Planet." Sir David the U.N. Environment program director that despite the odds, it is possible to save our planet. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, NATURALIST AND BROADCASTER: We're on the very, very edge of extinction worldwide. And then, they got together, people got
together, 30, 40 years ago, and then, sea going nations and said, OK, we will stop this. And we did. And now, the whales are more -- there are more
whales in the sea than anybody alive that human beings have ever seen before. It's a wonderful success story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So exuberant still. Attenborough added that we must remember that we are all citizens of this one planet. Speaking of that, join me
tomorrow for a special show celebrating Earth Day where I'll be talking to Chile's new environmental minister about leading Latin America's green
revolution, and also the pivotal role of women on these climate issues. Plus, the award-winning filmmaker, Dan Edge, tells me about his new
documentary that explores the power of big oil.
That's it for now. Remember, you can catch us online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.