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Interview with Mother of James W. Foley, "American Mother" Author and James W. Foley Legacy Foundation President and Founder Diane Foley; Interview with "American Mother" Author Colum McCann; Interview with The New Times Editor-in-Chief and CEO and Friend of Alexei Navalny Yevgenia Albats; Interview with New York City Ballet Artist in Residence, Russian- American Choreographer and Ballet Dancer and Former Director of Moscow Bolshoi Ballet Alexei Ratmansky. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 21, 2024 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour from Ukraine. Here's what's coming up.

Plugging gaps on Ukraine's front lines. My report as the fight continues despite dwindling ammunition.

Then, as dozens of journalists die in the wars shaking our world, I'm joined by Diane Foley, whose son James was killed by ISIS while reporting

in Syria. Why she and co-author Colum McCann are telling her story in "American Mother."

Also, ahead --


YEVGENIA ALBATS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, THE NEW TIMES AND FRIEND OF ALEXEI NAVALNY: We almost tended to believe that he became immortal.


AMANPOUR: Russian investigative journalist Yevgenia Albats discusses the legacy of her friend Alexei Navalny. She tells Michel Martin why she still

has hope for Russia today.

And finally, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky on swapping Moscow for New York after Russia's Ukraine invasion.

Welcome to the program, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv.

Also in occupied Ukraine today was Moscow's top general, Valery Gerasimov, handing out medals to troops who fought to take the key town of Avdiivka

over the weekend. A strategic location that Ukraine's foreign minister told me on this program last night would not have fallen to the Russians if the

vital ammunition supply line was not blocked in Washington.

This weekend marks two years since Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But his forces were unable to take this capital or

topple the government. And with the support of NATO, Ukraine has been holding Russia off for those two years.

But today, with a critical shortage of weapons and ammunition, Ukraine is frantically trying to plug the gaps on the front lines, as we discovered

for this report.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Snow falls softly on new recruits for the Ukrainian Army 3rd Assault Brigade. Drill sergeants push them through their paces

with urgent basic training for the trenches, urban warfare, and assault maneuvers. Every woman and man counts now for a battle that seems to have

returned to the dire days at the start.

28-year-old Serhii came back from Lithuania to serve two weeks ago, despite his health.

AMANPOUR: What's wrong with you?

SERHII, UKRAINIAN ARMY RECRUIT: It's asthma. But right now, we need to take our best man. And no matter what, I will serve my country until the


AMANPOUR (voice-over): The brigade says it's training professional fighters, not cannon fodder like Russia.

Their soldiers helped evacuate survivors of the battle for Avdiivka, where Russia has now raised its flag. But many of their wounded were left behind.

Just watch this video call between a severely injured soldier, Ivan (ph), and his panic-stricken sister, Katerina (ph).

IVAN (PH) (through translator): Everyone left, everyone retreated. They told us that a car would pick us up. I have two broken legs, shrapnel in my

back. I can't do anything.

KATERINA (PH) (through translator): Are there alone or what?

IVAN (PH) (through translator): No, there are six of us.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Ivan (ph) and his comrades never made it. Ukraine says there was a deal Russia would evacuate them and exchange prisoners.

Instead, Russia released video of them dead. The brigade says they were shot.

These are desperate times in Ukraine's fight to survive. They need to replenish the ranks of the dead and injured. And even here at the

Superhumans Facility in the western city of Lviv, therapists and prosthetic specialists work around the clock giving these war amputees a second

chance, and even a return to the front lines.


25-year-old Anastasia Savka is an army sniper. She stepped on a landmine in November near the Zaporizhzhia front, and she tells me they are scattered

there like snowdrops in spring, like daisies in summer.

We couldn't get out for a long time because we were under very heavy fire, she tells me. To be honest, we were ready to die there. The attacks were so

close, and we were thinking this was the end.

Olga Rudneva is CEO of this center, which is supported by a Ukrainian businessman and the American philanthropist Howard Buffett. 80 percent of

the patients are military, many of them multiple amputees. And that's because, Olga says, the wounded cannot get out of the battle zone during

the so-called golden hour to save their limbs.

OLGA RUDNEVA, CEO, SUPERHUMANS: People are evacuated for 10 hours by comrades very often because Russians are shelling our medics. So, by the

time they arrive at stabilization point, we have to cut them high because of the tourniquets. So, that's why we have multiple amputations.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Not only are they outmanned, they are also outgunned. The gridlock in Congress over military aid is showing up at the

front, and time is not their friend.

We reach Sergeant Mikola (ph), who's also serving now on the Zaporizhzhia front line.

AMANPOUR: Do you have enough weapons? Do you have enough people? Do you have enough ammunition?

Of course, we don't, he says. There is a catastrophic shortage of people. The same with weapons. There aren't enough shells for artillery and tanks,

or the tanks and artillery themselves.

On a brief hiatus in the rear, they've had to buy their own mortar. Small caliber, just for self-defense. Problem is, no ammunition.

Anastasia practices perfecting her balance, her endurance, regaining the strength to shoulder her weapons, and she wants to go back to the front.

I think anything is possible, she says. But whatever happens, we all need to fight this together because the enemy is advancing.

No one wants their children to still be fighting the war they and their parents have been fighting ever since Putin's first invasion a decade ago.


AMANPOUR (on camera): Now here in Ukraine, it is not just the soldiers under fire, it is, of course, civilians, including journalists. Some 26 of

whom have been killed since Russia's invasion of Crimea back in 2014. It's happening in many of the global wars, but perhaps the toll in Gaza is the

most appalling right now. At least 88 reporters and media workers have been killed in Israel's offensive on the enclave. And they have died since Hamas

attacked Israel on October 7th. That's according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

My next guest knows the pain of this more than almost anyone. Diane Foley lost her son, James, 10 years ago, when he was covering the Syrian civil

war and was kidnapped and then murdered by ISIS. Now, a committed campaigner to help people like him, Foley has written her story in her

memoir, "American Mother." And she joins me from London alongside the celebrated author Colum McCann, who wrote the book with her. Welcome to you


Diane, you know, I wonder what it took for you to distill all the pain and heartbreak that you've been going through to get it down on paper and write

a story for everybody else to read about and understand.


meeting Colum McCann. It really did. I really wanted to tell the story, Christiane, because I do think that's a way of keeping people alive, but I

really needed a partnership with someone who knew how to do it. So, we -- once we met one another, it became clear that Colum would be the one who

could help me do that.

AMANPOUR: And let me ask Colum, why did Diane choose you? I know there's a connection with Jim.

COLUM MCCANN, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN MOTHER": Well, it's an extraordinary story, really. And when that iconic photograph was shown across the world

in the -- 10 years ago of Jim in the Syrian desert in the orange jumpsuit, the world was shocked. But at the same time, I was sent another photograph

of Jim at a happier time when he was in a bunker and he was actually reading a novel of mine called "Let the Great World Spin."

And when that happened, for me, all the oxygen went from the air. And I felt a connection with Jim. I felt a connection with Diane. And I thought

that somehow this story I would become a powerful thing, which it did for me seven years later when I actually got to meet Diane. And came upon one

of the most courageous people that I have ever met in my life.


And we had a chance then to penetrate into the dark mysteries of this particular story and even get a chance to meet her son's killer together.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to that in a moment because that is an extraordinary story, which you bookend the beginning and the end of the

book with that.

Diane, I don't know where you got the strength to do that. But first, I want to ask you something that really struck me about how you started to

get to know Jim better almost after he died. And I want you to read -- we've asked you to choose a passage and read to us from your own heart

about how you got to know him through the testimonies and the memories of those who had worked and been with him.

FOLEY: Sure. Years later, after Jim was killed, John and I would realize that we got to know him from the stories of others. Everyone seemed to have

a Jim story. And we became the repositories for those stories. I take a sort of solace in this. We get to know him afterwards. And so. he lived on.

In a way, we are still getting to know him.

AMANPOUR: And another thing you said, Diane, was that for you, as a parent, there is no term for a parent who's lost a child. Describe that

thought, because I hadn't even thought about that until I saw it in black and white in your book.

FOLEY: Well, really, Colum was the one who had mentioned that. And I think it's the truth. It's something that none of us as parents ever want to

think about. And we all want to and expect to go before our children. So, it is true, though, that there is not a term for that.

MCCANN: We have -- you know, we have widowers, and we have widows, and we have orphans. And yet, we have no specific term for that sort of -- I think

that terrible grief that a parent experiences when he or she has lost a child.

AMANPOUR: It is such an amazing concept to put before us, because I think you just don't think of that fact and it sort of takes away a little bit,

potentially, from what you're going through. Diane, tell -- OK, let us talk about how you opened the book.

What on earth made you want to meet the killer, one of the so-called Beatles? This is a British citizen. And they had captured and kidnapped

Jim, and he was the killer. Tell us about how you went to see him and why.

FOLEY: Alexanda -- both Alexanda and his colleague, El Shafee El Sheikh, were extradited to Virginia in 2020, two years after being captured abroad.

And Alexanda pleaded guilty to all eight counts. He said he did not need a trial and instead, he pleaded guilty and was willing to speak to victims.

So, I knew Jim would have wanted to speak to him and he would have not wanted me to be afraid to speak with him. It was just obvious to me, except

that my family wanted no part of it. So, when Colum was generous enough and curious enough to accompany me, we did. We both went to speak with him. I

wanted to hear him and also to tell him about who Jim really was.

AMANPOUR: Wow. Colum, I mean, what were you thinking, and I'm going to ask you to read a passage about that meeting and about what went through it.

But what were you thinking when a bereaved mother thought that she could reach into the soul or the conscience of a killer who had killed her son?

MCCANN: It was one of the most extraordinary moments of my life. We walked into a room in a Virginia courthouse. A big windowless room. There were a

lot of people there. There were prosecutors, there were defense, there were FBI agents, and there were security guards.

And then, Diane walked in, and then suddenly, Alexanda Kotey is sitting there. He's in his prison jumpsuit. He's got shackles on his ankles. And

Diane goes and sits not four feet from her son's killer. And she says hello. And then, for the next two days -- and then one day, six months

later after that, we sat and we talked, and we talked about faith and we talked about conscience and we talked about compassion, and forgiveness,

and violence, and war.


And it was, to me, to watch this moment was bringing all these issues together and compressed in an almost nuclear energy. And there was a lot of

emotion there. There was a lot of tears. There was a lot of, you know, bubbling anger, even on my part. and I wanted to ask him some tough

questions. You know, did you kill Jim? Where is the body buried? All of these different things that were going on. And yet, we felt -- I think it's

fair to say, Diane, we felt a sort of understanding of this man and what he had done, too.

So, in the book, we get a chance when -- this is --

AMANPOUR: Do you have that passage?

MCCANN: There's a little section just -- when Diane leaves the room.


MCCANN: When she leaves the room, Kotey sits down slowly, a little stunned, as if he has just flown into the windowpane of his life. Another

silence has descended all around. He is asked what it meant to shake her hand. He nods and creases his own hands together. He has not intentionally

touched the hand of a woman in a long time, he says. Not since years ago when he touched the hand of his wife. And he suspects he will never touch

the hand of a woman again. And why then, he is asked, did he take Diane's hand? He ponders a moment, and he says, she's like a mother to us all.

AMANPOUR: Gosh, Diane, it is an incredible thing. You know, tell me what you felt after you shook his hand and when you heard he had said that.

FOLEY: Well, I did not hear that. This was at the end of the final day we saw him. And, you know, it wasn't that easy -- that hard to hear Alexanda,

partly because he's the same age as several of our sons. He's in that same time in his life.

And my biggest feeling was deep sadness for everyone. I mean, we had lost our beloved Jim and, you know, he's lost his freedom forever. He'll never

see his family or go back to his home country again. So, that's what hatred begets. It just begets lots of suffering.

And so, I thought that might be the last time I ever saw him. So, not knowing anything about the Muslim tradition of not touching a man's hand,

as an American, the only way I could say goodbye was to offer my hand and to say goodbye to him. So, I really didn't think about it. And then I just

walked out. So, what -- the words he spoke were words he spoke to Colum afterwards.

AMANPOUR: You know, Diane, I know that you have a deep faith. And I know that that has gotten you, you know, through a lot. And that, you know,

maybe you look at certain things that others wouldn't be able to look at because -- you know, because of your faith.

And I just wonder, you know that people said, oh, yes, you know, Alexanda Kotey, was just grandstanding and trying to get good marks, you know, for

being nice and polite with you and trying to make people think he was a decent -- well, he was a repentant human being.

What do you -- what -- you know, the question I'm asking is, because it brings back to me the image of Mrs. Lifshitz, the elderly lady who was

released very, very early on by Hamas, and who turned around and either shook his hand or said shalom something, and there was such a hubbub about

it. And yet, her daughter said she was just being a human being in the situation in which she found herself.

So, I just wonder if, Diane, you can just talk about that a little bit, and Colum as well, because you've investigated that in different conflicts and

different situations.

FOLEY: I feel building those human channels is essential. I mean, look at the suffering in Ukraine, the suffering in Gaza right now. I mean, we need

to at least try to talk to one another and try to find ways to build -- begin to understand. If we just stay in our bubbles and hate one another,

we get nowhere, really. It just -- we get the suffering we're enduring and you're witnessing right now in Ukraine.


So yes, I feel it's essential that we try. And Jim felt that way. Jim was - - that was one of the reasons he was in Syria. Because he wanted those of us in the West to understand, to begin to understand their yearning for

freedom that sometimes we take for granted. They were willing to lay down their lives for to be free. So --

AMANPOUR: And, Colum, I want to ask you as well, because you have written a whole book. I think it was a book about bereaved families in Israel and

the Palestinian territories, you know, an Israeli and a Palestinian who had lost a child, and you were able to tell their story and talk about how they

came together.

And as we said at the beginning, you know, now, there's upwards of 80 people in the media, journalists, media workers who've been killed in this

counteroffensive in Gaza.

MCCANN: Yes. I mean, all this --

AMANPOUR: What do you think, you know, of that issue? Yes.

MCCANN: Yes, all these stories are incredibly laced together. What sort of courage does it take to recognize the humanity of your enemy? What sort of

courage does it take to say, well, we don't necessarily have to love each other, and maybe we don't even have to like each other, but one of the

things that we must do is that we must learn to understand one another?

And in order to understand, we have to listen to one another's stories, and we have to sort of look across that very, very deep divide sometimes and

try and vault away from the deep pessimism into some sort of available light. And you know, I have worked with people in Israel and Palestine, in

particular Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin. And they together have the courage to say that we are friends and that this will not end, none of this

will end until we turn to -- until we learn to talk to one another.

And this is what Diane did when she walked into that room. She sat down and she talked to the man who took her son's life.

AMANPOUR: It is incredible to hear those conversations, as I have done as well. And, Diane, I just want to finally ask you about, you know, another

very important issue around kidnapped, around hostages. When Jim was taken before he was killed, you were advised by the U.S. administration to stay

quiet and to not make too much of a hubbub. And I think you regret that the United States and the U.K., they don't Essentially, do what other countries

do to get their loved ones back.

Where does that mission stand now? What are you hoping more from government action?

FOLEY: Well, actually, a lot has happened, Christiane, since Jim and the other Americans and British were murdered by ISIS. I think it took their

shocking public murders really to -- well, awaken the consciences, in many ways, of our countries. And our country -- President Obama did set up the

U.S. hostage enterprise that is working today.

And since Jim's murder in 2014, more than 100 innocent U.S. nationals have, in fact, been negotiated to freedom. So, that is a part of Jim's legacy

that I'm very proud of. Jim would have wanted that. He -- I really felt after Jim was killed, our country had to do better. We could do better.

That we could be concerned, obviously. We have to deter hostage taking also. But we need to have the backs of our brave citizens who go out in the

world, like yourself, in the Ukraine. We need to take care of one another, too.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's a perfect place to end. And I'm sure that is the prime message of your book as well. Diane Foley, Colum McCann, thank you

both so much for being with us.

MCCANN: Thank you.

FOLEY: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Now, as we said -- yes -- in Russia, a crackdown also on independent journalists has forced some into exile. Yevgenia Albats is

among them. She is editor-in-chief of the Russian language independent political weekly called "The New Times." And she's been based in the U.S.

since 2022.

She was a close friend of the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, whose death she blames squarely on President Putin, as does Navalny's wife,

Yulia. The Kremlin calls those accusations "absolutely unfounded and boorish," saying that an investigation into his death is underway.

And now, Navalny's mother has filed a lawsuit against the inaction of the state in giving her his body.

Yevgenia Albats joins Michel Martin to discuss the loss of her friend and what it means for the whole world.



MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Yevgenia Albats, thank you so much for speaking with us again today. And we are all so very sorry

about the circumstances.

YEVGENIA ALBATS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, THE NEW TIMES AND FRIEND OF ALEXEI NAVALNY: Thank you very much for inviting me. And thank you very

much that you are ready -- you're willing to talk about Alexei Navalny and to remember him. He was a great guy.

MARTIN: What drove him? What was the source of his vision about -- not just about himself, but about what Russia could be?

ALBATS: You know, I think that, you know, he was a natural born politician. He was very much in love with the country. You know, in these

oldest letters from prison, time and again, he was writing. You know, I was telling him, I was there, and he was telling Zhenya, I would love to find

myself at Machu Picchu. I would love to find myself at Barbados. But you know what? The place where I want myself the most is Moscow.

So -- and he believed in Russia's democratic future, and he believed that he was the one who was capable to become the real leader of the country. He

was prone to conducting the political reform. Anyway, he wanted -- you know, he want -- he was really one of those politicians who believed in

common good and who was ready to sacrifice almost everything. And as we can see, sacrifice even his life for this brighter future of Russia.

MARTIN: The -- many of the headlines in the West say -- who have followed his story say basically shocked but not surprised. Is that -- does that sum

it up? I mean, because obviously there had been attempts on his life before. I mean, people may remember that he was poisoned, you know, on an

airplane. He was rushed to Germany where he received, you know, medical treatment. He could have died then.

So, I guess the feeling is shocking, yes, but not a surprise, especially after he was sent to this prison colony in the Arctic. Does this -- is this

about right? Is this -- does this sum it up?

ALBATS: I'm not so sure about that. To be honest with you, many of us, we almost tended to believe that he became immortal. Of course, you know, no

one knew his risks. But, you know, in one of -- you know, here, you know, in my table, you know, I have tons of his letters. Because I'm writing


And in one of his letters, you know, when I complained to him -- after I complained to him that I hate to die in exile, you know, and he responded

to me Zhenya, that's my nickname, you know, there is no -- death doesn't exist.

You know, he was a deeply religious man. And -- you know, and also in another letter that he sent to me, you know, shortly after he returned back

from Germany, where, you know, he recovered after Putin tried to kill him first time. And people were talking about him in Moscow, like, you know,

the guy who managed to overcome death. It was almost about, you know, his resurrection. And I think Putin was deadly afraid of that, of that myth,

that, you know, people were making out of Navalny.

But anyway, you know, that's the letter. I can show you just -- it's -- and he wrote in this letter that, Zhenya, everything's going to be OK. And I'm

not complaining about anything. I'm not pity about anything. And you shouldn't. Everything is going to be fine. Just fine. And even if it

doesn't, we can console ourselves that we were honest people.

That was written in the Moscow based jail number 99-1. And he was absolutely aware that Putin was going to keep him in jail as long as Putin

was alive. Because Putin saw him as an alternative. That's why he killed him. He tried to break him. He tortured him. I'm saying he, I mean, Putin

himself. Everything with respect to Navalny was done at the orders of this top guy.

AMANPOUR: How do you know this? Yevgenia, how do you know this?

ALBATS: You know, because we have very good sources and we know -- we knew that when Navalny was dying when he was on hunger strike for 22 days, you

know, we were looking for ways and means, you know, to save him. And so, we knew that all the decisions were made by Putin himself.


Now, he was and, you know, Navalny was alternative to Putin. And Putin did understand that's the guy who was capable to challenge him. So -- and

that's why, you know, they -- for three years on the road, he was put in the torturous conditions.

He spent just -- you know, in the last two years, he spent 308 days in the solitary punishment cell. He wasn't allowed any commissary. He was

constantly hungry. They were bringing food to his cell. They were showing food to him and then dumped. They kept him in this solitary punishment

cell. It was suffocating hot during the summer, and it was freezing cold during the winter.

There was never was cold -- hot water in the tub. There was just, you know, a hole in the floor instead of a toilet. He was unable -- even when he was

sick, when he has pneumonia, he couldn't lay on his bank because, you know, he wasn't allowed. His bank was attached to the wall from 5:00 in the

morning to late at night.

MARTIN: What you're saying is his conditions were extremely harsh and meant to be demeaning and meant to break his spirit. So --

ALBATS: Exactly.

MARTIN: So, all of the above. But why now? If, as you believe, as much of the world believes, that this death was ordered now, why now?

ALBATS: For Putin it was very important to give this notion that the entire country, the entire Russia, was supporting his war of aggression

against Ukraine. That he had -- you know, he has this support. So, in much of -- in the -- in this coming March, there are so-called elections in

Russia. Of course, it's not elections, it's going to be acclamation or election procedure, whatever, it's not elections.

So, the order from Kremlin, 80 percent of Russians should pretend that they voted for Putin. And they cannot just, you know, write down all these

numbers because, you know, they're obviously -- they cannot do this. So that's why, you know, he invited Tucker Carlson to make this interview, to

present himself as the one who is real true leader of Russia. And Navalny was a constant problem because Navalny presented an alternative.

And Navalny, even being in this maximum-security prison in the Arctic Circle, 61 kilometers of the -- to -- of the -- to -- of the Arctic Circle,

he called people not to vote for Putin. He didn't -- you know, he conducted these, anti-Putin campaign sitting in the maximum-security prison, and

people listen to him.

And we see the numbers, we see that independent pollsters, whenever, you know -- as little as -- you know, as hard as it is for them to do any job

in Russia, they measure that more and more Russians asked for the end of the war. And over 50 percent of Russians, you know, asked for the end of

the war.

And look, you know, now that when they killed Navalny, thousands and thousands of Russians, they are bringing flowers to these -- all these

memorials across the country. 390 people were already arrested for that. Just for mourning, just for grieving. Putin realizes because he's -- they

see that Navalny is seen by much, especially young Russians, as their leader.

MARTIN: One of the -- you mentioned that Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News personality who did this interview with Putin for his digital outlet,

I don't even know what to describe it. I mean, it was a, you know, sort of a softball. There were no challenging questions asked, and he allowed Putin

to kind of ramble on about his -- you know, his sort of false version sort of history.

Does this mean that Putin is weak, or does this mean that Putin is strong? I guess that would be the question.

ALBATS: I think that Putin when Tucker Carlson interview happened, Putin realized that the West is weak, not him, Putin, but the West is

extraordinarily weak.


That the West is extraordinarily weak. That the West is unable to support Ukraine. That the U.S. Congress is unable to pass this bill that would

allow to provide Ukraine with weapons. That's why Ukraine is losing the war. He realized that basically he overcame the situation when he was a

pariah, he was an outcast. And all of a sudden, with the help of Tucker Carlson and hundreds of millions of views, he got back on the world stage.

And therefore, you know, he resolved this problem, he's winning the war in Ukraine, Americans no longer support Ukrainians and ready to give up. And

therefore, the only problem he was left with was Alexei Navalny.

MARTIN: You have spent a lot of time in the United States. And as you noted, you are living here in exile now. What do you make of why the United

States, or at least certain sectors in the United States are having such a difficult time supporting Ukraine or at least challenging, you know,

Putin's thirst for power? What do you make of it? How do you understand this?

ALBATS: Obviously, you know, I'm a Russian journalist and academic, and I prefer not to talk about politics of other countries. But I watch your

primaries. I always come with primaries in the United States. And we discuss -- you know, the last letter -- so you know. The last letter I sent

to Alyosha, that's his nickname, in Russia we go by the nicknames, was on February 9, 2024. So, you know, 10 days ago.

And the entire letter was about U.S. primaries, and linked, and there was U.S. primaries, and what's happening to Trump, what kind of court cases,

and numbers, and the numbers, you know, that Biden is -- you know, is getting a lot of negative publicity, all this, everything. Long, long

letter, because we discuss this constantly with Alexei over letters.

So -- and I think it is -- as far as my understanding, the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, they got an order from the

plausible second time president, from Donald Trump, not to support the bill. And I think they just follow the orders because the choice is for

them that if Trump -- you know, everybody saw the fate of death of Liz Cheney who was a prominent conservative, who was, you know, a daughter of

very prominent conservative and (INAUDIBLE) and went against Trump, was kicked out of the Congress.

So -- and I think that, unfortunately, some politicians in GOP, they forgot about the common good, and all they care about is about pork barrels.

That's it.

MARTIN: I heard you say that you try, as a Russian journalist and as a Russian, you know, academic, not to, you know, involve yourself in the

politics of another country. But you are here now, and Americans do listen to you. I was wondering if you would just give your thoughts about why

Americans should continue to care about this.

I mean, we're sort of in reporting on this, you hear different things about why Americans have a waning interest in Ukraine. I mean, if you would just

give us your sense of why you think Americans should continue to care about this.

ALBATS: I think that it's lack of understanding of all the dangers that comes out of Putin. Donald Trump is -- definitely admires Putin. For him,

he is a role model. So, just think about that. If this evil man who runs Russia now, who is who is running, you know, who is sitting in Kremlin for

already for 24 years and intends to sit for another 12 years, more than Stalin was in Kremlin.

So, if this kind of man who is ready to kill around and to kill his opponents, if he's a role model for Donald Trump, then what kind of a guy

you're going to bring into the White House again in November of 2024? I think that Americans, you know, probably there is a lack of understanding

that Putin is very much like Hitler back in 1939 in Germany when he was about to start the World War II, which ended up with 60 million dead across

Europe, and a lot of Americans died in that war as well.


Putin is not going to stop in Ukraine. If he's going to win Ukraine, he's going to go further. He is going to attack Finland. He was going to attack

Poland. He's going to attend Baltic nations. Because Putin is about reinstating not the Soviet Union, he's about reinstating of the Russian

Empire. I don't want to draw all these apocalypses, but be aware Putin is not going to stop. And he's an evil man. And I think that you Americans can

take pride in stopping the evil man the way you became part of the coalition which stopped Adolf Hitler back 75 years ago. That's what I want

to say.

MARTIN: Is there anything that gives you hope for a better future for Russia right now? You mentioned that Navalny -- what, in part, kept him

going was his profound faith. Is there anything that's giving you hope right now?

ALBATS: You know, should have asked me this question three days ago, I would say, no. I'm going to die, you know. I'm not going to return back to

Moscow. And I won't see my country as a normal democratic country.

But yesterday, his wife, his widow, Alexei Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, came out and she said that I am going to continue the kind of

fight my late husband ran for all these decades. I'm going to pick up his banner and I'm going to carry on. And this, you know, already, you know,

almost 6 million people watched her statement on YouTube. And trust me, there will be, you know, millions and millions more.

So, I think that now that Yulia Navalnaya said that she was going to do or to keep doing, to keep the kind of fight her late husband conducted for so

many decades, it gives some hope. At least, it comes with huge risk for Khabarovsk, because Putin is not going to stop, because he is evil and a


And -- but at least Russian society, Russian opposition, people of goodwill, now we have a leader who will try who will try to lead and to


MARTIN: Yevgenia Albats, thank you for speaking with us once again at what I know is a very difficult time for you. So, thank you for speaking with


ALBATS: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: And finally, life and art and self-imposed exile. Alexei Ratmansky is one of the world's most acclaimed classical choreographers

with roots in both Ukraine and Russia.

In 2022, he was preparing a new ballet at Russia's Bolshoi when Moscow invaded and he decided to leave. He's now an artist in residence of the New

York City Ballet. And his first work there, "Solitude," premiered last week and is dedicated to the victims of the war. Alexei Ratmansky joins me from

New York.

Welcome to the program, Alexei.


AMANPOUR: I wonder just what you think, because you obviously come from this region, and you just heard Yevgenia Albats talk about, you know, the

tragedy of what's happening in the land that you left and you're self- exiled from.

RATMANSKY: My thoughts are with Ukraine. That's where my family lives. That's where I was raised. My mom is Russian. My father is from Kyiv. And I

-- what is going on and you see no end to it is just so horrible. So, my heart and my thoughts are with Ukraine now.

AMANPOUR: And, Alexei, you have, as we said, become the artist in residence at the City Ballet, and you have produced now your first work for

them called "Solitude." Tell us about it, because I know that you based, at least, part of it, some of the imaging and the body -- you know, the body

language, on a real situation that happened here, and we will show the picture when you talk to about it -- talk to us about it, and it is a sad



RATMANSKY: Yes, the initial impulse for this ballet was a photograph from the Russian crime scene in Ukraine. The bus stop that was hit by the

missile, killing few people among them, the boy, and you see the father sitting by -- next to his body holding his hand.

As I learned later, the boy was an aspiring dancer. He was 13 years old, the ballroom dancer. When you see this picture, you can't unsee it. And

it's been haunting me all this time. It happened in summer '22. And then, when I was preparing my first ballet for New York City Ballet as a

choreographer in residence, I've been listening to Gustav Mahler's symphonies and I had this image in mind and I understood that I can't let

it go, this -- the emotions and the -- you know, I look at things with choreographer's eyes and I read body language.

What this image tells you, the profound sadness and the tragedy, the shoulders dropped, the deep void in the gaze of the father, I wanted to

build a ballet around it.

AMANPOUR: Alexei, I'm going to -- it's a remarkable thing. It's a remarkable idea to take that image and build a whole ballet. And I'm going

to play a clip that we can, and see whether we can recognize some of that body language in the clip that we've shown.




AMANPOUR: Tell me about that clip. I'm not sure it's exactly the one that I was thinking of, but tell me about it.

RATMANSKY: The ballet starts and ends with a figure of a father and the boy. This is close to the end of it. And when I started choreographing,

working with the dancers in the studio, it was very challenging time and moments because, you know, in ballet we don't go with this reality. It's

more a contemporary dance field.

Dance on point with the classical positions. Something that actually is designed to take you away from reality. Is an uncomfortable coexistence.

And I almost felt like I'm not even allowed to go in that territory. But with the help of extraordinary Mahler's music and the beautiful dancers of

New York City Ballet, I think we built something that resonated.

And at the opening night, I felt there was a cathartic feeling, and I was glad and satisfied to hear there is emotional response from the dancers and

from the spectators as well.

AMANPOUR: So, I was going to ask you about that because as you know, you know, I'm sitting here in Kyiv. You're there in New York and the American

Congress is so far blocking aid to the fighters here on the front line and it's making a difference.

And I just wondered whether you got a sense from the audience and probably the dancers as well as what they feel about this battle after two years,

whether they think it's, you know, two years, they've got other things to think about or whether, you know, the plight of this country, defending

democracy and freedom, still is making an impact where you are?

RATMANSKY: Yes, I do feel that Ukraine is not as prominent in every day's news and people's thoughts as before when this war started. But my goal was

to remind people of what is going on and to make them feel the pain and to make them thinking of helping Ukraine more. Because without Americans help,

I don't think Ukraine can win.


The American help is vital for the fight that Ukrainians are fighting now. Fighting for their existence, for their culture, for their language, for

their land.

AMANPOUR: You know, you talk about culture, and I, today, was speaking to the great Ukrainian novelist, Andrey Kurkov. And there are bookstores and

all sorts of cultural, particularly bookstores, opening here.

And he talked about, you know, culture, and actually fighting to maintain the fact of Ukrainian statehood, nationhood, culture, and history. And so,

it's not just, you know, an artistic thing or something to do on the side, it's the defense of culture is also part of fighting this war. Do you feel


RATMANSKY: Yes, I do. And I see two aspects to it. First, I do feel that it's -- despite the tragedy of what is going on, I think it's a renaissance

of Ukrainian culture, because many people who were between two cultures, like myself, I received my ballet education in Russia, and I staged many,

many ballets with both Mariinsky and Bolshoi. But I am from Kyiv, and I feel more and more Ukrainian now.

And I think there are many people like me and also, I think that Ukrainian artists are now seen and recognized because the whole history of domination

of Russian empire over Ukraine and then Soviet empire and the post-Soviet, you know, times, it's all the same. The best -- the most talented Ukrainian

artists were almost like swallowed by Russia and they became integral part of Russian culture.

Many artists who came from Ukraine grew up there and received their education there are still called Russian artists. I have always been called

a Russian choreographer. And of course, there is a big part of Russia in me, but I think it is a spotlight on Ukraine at the moment.

At the same time, Ukraine is losing so much, so many museums, libraries, clubs, art institutions, schools are destroyed. If you talk about ballet,

imagine how many ballet students left Ukraine and now are studying abroad. They will graduate and they will join companies in America and Europe and

will be lost for Ukraine.

Ukrainian -- big Ukrainian companies keep performing under constant shellings. When the air raid alarm sounds, the performance stops, they go

to the shelter and sometimes they continue, sometimes they don't. But big companies in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Lviv, they keep performing, and I think

it's extraordinary. They show real heroism, yes.

I also wanted to add that many artists are killed, they took up arms. And my former colleagues from Kyiv, who I worked with before, they were killed

by Russians.

AMANPOUR: I know and I hear you, and I've had the pleasure of actually witnessing some of these fantastic performances under the conditions that

you're describing now here, still going on, even in the last two years. And you know, I also know that you helped with the Refugee Ballet Group, the

theater that came out and was, you know, housed and trained and directed in the Netherlands and has done, you know performances in the United States.

That must have been interesting for you as well, to promote the ballet, even with these with people who've had to leave.

RATMANSKY: That was one of the most meaningful experiences of my artistic life. These refugee dancers, they were gathered in The Hague in

Netherlands. They came from different backgrounds. Some from bigger companies, some from small companies, some contemporary dancers, and even

the students who just graduated, never had professional experience.

So, we mounted production of "Giselle" and we showed it in the best stages in the world. London's Coliseum, Kennedy Center in Washington and

Segerstrom Center in California. And I can't describe the feeling that we all had, you know, standing on stage at the end of the show singing

Ukrainian anthem. It's a mixture of pain, pride, determination and hope. That was really remarkable.

And in our California performances, we were joined by the Ukrainian hero soldier who lost both of his legs. He saw the performance of United

Ukrainian Ballet in Washington, and he came backstage to congratulate. My wife told me later that she saw that. Her heart will break.



RATMANSKY: You know, brilliant guy, very young and very articulate. Brilliant Ukrainian speaker. He said, I love what you do and I want to join

you. And then a couple of months later, he was performing with us in California.

AMANPOUR: That's a great story to end with.

RATMANSKY: That was very inspiring.

AMANPOUR: Alexei Ratmansky, thank you so much.

And that is it for now. Thank you all for watching, and goodbye from Kyiv. We'll be back from here again tomorrow night.