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CNN Live Event/Special

Czar Putin

Aired November 30, 2007 - 23:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The whole world watched as the Soviet Union sprinted from communism to freedom and the free markets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moscow is a boomtown. If you want to earn a million, you can do it.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Communism has given way to capitalism on a grand scale. But Russia's newfound wealth conceals a dark truth. Its leader, Vladimir Putin has near absolutely power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, Vladimir Putin is a typical control freak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell your leaders that this regime is criminal. It is a police state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Putin, it is about power. For people that surround Putin, it is about money.

AMANPOUR: And the Russian people are letting him have his way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The masses want a czar. And this is no joke.

AMANPOUR: Join us as we peel back the layers of Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Welcome to democracy, Russia style. Politics spill into the street and President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken opponent is arrested one week before the elections.

Over at Putin's party convention, a fanfare for the party in power. United Russia, the only one that really counts. And the only question, will there be a real election or, as critics charge, a carefully orchestrated show?

(on camera): This forest of camera is not just for the convention delegates. We've just heard that in five minutes President Putin is going to address this convention.

Now although he cannot run again, at least not immediately according the constitution, he's coming here to rally the political troops because he wants them to continue the Putin plan.

(voice-over): And he delivers a bombshell.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am honored to have the candidate list of United Russia.

AMANPOUR: Vladimir Putin signals he has no intention of giving up power. But he might swap jobs from president to prime minister or he might continue to run things behind the scenes.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, UNITED RUSSIA: Nobody knows. This intrigue will be alive until the very end of this story.

AMANPOUR: Konstantin Kosachev is one of Putin's party leaders.

(on camera): You know that it's pretty unpopular in the West, this power grab, in Europe and the United States, people are looking at it with alarm.

KOSACHEV: We have not started a single war or a military operation anywhere. Why do Americans, for example, need their bases in Romania, in Bulgaria, why do they need this antimissile in Poland and Czechia?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): So I asked him about Russia's provocative moves, for instance, its strategic bombers approaching the coast of America and that of its allies?

(on camera): Why do you think Russia has scrambled fighter jets and sent them close to England and close to the Alaskan coast?

KOSACHEV: For almost 15 years there were no flights and we do not have experienced pilots for these aircraft.

AMANPOUR: But why are they going close to England and America? There's plenty of Russian territory they can fly over. What's the point?

KOSACHEV: The point is that they need to have training in the real situation.

SERGEI MARKOV, UNITED RUSSIA: Stop the Cold War, it's our point. We stopped it. Stop the Cold War in your mind.

AMANPOUR: Gosh. Everybody thinks it is Putin restarting the cold war.

MARKOV: Not everybody.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Sergei Markov is also running for election with Putin's party.

(on camera): What is the state of relations between Russia and the United States right now?

MARKOV: I think now Russia and the United States are in trouble.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And despite the increasingly aggressive posture towards the United States, the president's bid to restore Russia's pride and power is enormously popular here. Even if it does come at the cost of rolling back democracy.

MASHA GAIDAR, UNION OF RIGHT FORCES: The Putin plan is to keep all the people in their places.

AMANPOUR: Masha Gaidar's party was once a major democratic force. But it's unlikely to get any seats in the next parliament because the Kremlin keeps tightening the rules.

(on camera): So all these years after the end of communism and these hopes of democracy in Russia, is it basically just a one-party state now?

GAIDAR: It's the state of Putin's administration. It's not a party. It's a group of people gnat nobody knows, it's a group of people sitting in the Kremlin working there that are not politicians, that were never ever elected. It's the state of Putin.

AMANPOUR: And state of fear for those who dare challenge Putin. For example, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinienko had accused President Putin of silencing his critics. A month hater, in London, Litvinienko was dead.

On the anniversary of his murder, his window's attorney claimed they had identified the Russian nuclear plant that had produced the radioactive polonium that killed him. Russian authorities have consistently denied any involvement. Britain has charged AndreI Lugovoi, also a former KGB officer with the murder and wants him extradited. But Putin's government has refused.

ANDREI LUGOVOI, PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: Litvinienko was always trying to poke his nose in places where a normal person wouldn't. So I can't rule out that Litvinienko found the polonium somewhere, started playing with it and had an accident, leading to his death.

AMANPOUR: And far from being a wanted man in Moscow, Lugovoi is something of a hero. He is running for parliament.

Here, even the wealthiest Russians, known as oligarchs, have discovered that if they are foolish enough to challenge Vladimir Putin, not even their billions can protect them.

Mikhail Khorokovsky was once the richest man in Russia. Now he languishes in a Siberian jail, convicted of tax fraud. Trumped up charges says his lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko.

KARINNA MOSKALENKO, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: He's serving his sentence because these authorities want him to be in jail.

AMANPOUR: But he was funding opposition groups, anti-Putin groups.

MOSKALENKO: The only thing he wants in his country, to have real democracy.

AMANPOUR: Nothing has done more damage to democracy than silencing Russia's free press and the murder of journalists like Anna Politkovskaya, the country's famous investigative reporter.

(on camera): When somebody like Anna Politkovskaya is killed, when somebody like Mikhail Khordokovsky is exiled and jailed, what signal is being sent?

MOSKALENKO: Very simple. If you kill the most brave journalist, if you kill precisely this person, then others would feel then even more vulnerable and they would think twice.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Today, Russia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) was shot, Cedar (ph) was stabbed.

AMANPOUR: When we return, who is behind this mysterious epidemic?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a beautiful picture of a beautiful girl. A pioneer leader.

AMANPOUR: Her name was Anna Politkovskaya. She grew up in an era when communism was still glorified and the Soviet Union still a superpower. And like all good citizens, she started out as a young pioneer. Anna was always the top of her class. And Elena Morozova was her best friend.

ELENA MOROZOVA, POLITKOVSKAYA FRIEND: Everybody waited if the tasks were real difficult and then she sent a small message with the correct answers. And everybody was copying. That's why her place is this, right in the center.

AMANPOUR: And Politkovskaya remained at the center of things once the Soviet Union collapsed. Becoming a crusading journalist.

MOROZOVA: She always wanted to find justice.

AMANPOUR: Anna Politkovskaya became a reporter for the newspaper "Noviya Gazetta." In her book, she blasted President Vladimir Putin for snuffing out Russia's democracy. As the most vociferous critic of Russia's brutal war in Chechnya, the breakaway republic, Politkovskaya investigated the corruption of local leaders installed by Russia and the terrible price paid by civilians in the pacification campaign.

MOROZOVA: I always said, Anna, stop stop. It's kind of addiction. You can't risk your life all the time. Think about yourself, think about the kids. Now I realize that she never parted with the heroes of her stories.

AMANPOUR: In her diary, she agonized over the indifference to the victims of the spreading war, who were calling her because one was listening.

In this entry at 11:00 p.m. she wrote, "Women were screaming into the telephone, help us do something. We're lying on the floor with the children. I could hear the rattle of rifle fire."

Putin's government didn't want the public receiving any more bad news about Chechnya and Anna's voice was increasingly isolated. On October 7, 2006, it was silenced forever. These CCTV cameras showed that Anna was followed into the lobby of her apartment building where she was shot four times at point blank range.

MOROZOVA: I heard the news on the radio. I couldn't believe my ears. People felt united in their rage that something terrible happened. She was defending so many people and nobody could defend her.

AMANPOUR: Politkovskaya was only the latest in a long list of journalists killed in Russia since the fall of communism.

ALEXEI SIMONOV, GLASTNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION: Two of them were chief editors of one and the same newspaper. Ivanov (ph) one was shot, Cedar (ph) was stabbed.

AMANPOUR: Alexei Simonov keeps track of the grim body count and he tries to get each killing investigated.

(on camera): How many journalists have been killed since 1991? Since the Yeltsin period?

SIMONOV: Two-hundred twenty.

AMANPOUR: Two-hundred twenty journalists?

SIMONOV: Two-hundred twenty journalists.

AMANPOUR: And of those, how many have been properly investigated?



SIMONOV: Or six.

AMANPOUR: Out of 220?


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Simonov says Russian police solve 80 percent of the murders here but only six percent when they involve a journalist.

SIMONOV: They don't think journalists are really useful in this country. Sometimes they even think they're worse than useless.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Why?

SIMONOV: Well, because they try to find out real things.

AMANPOUR: Is the Kremlin responsible for the deaths of people like Anna Politkovskaya?

SIMONOV: I don't think anybody in the Kremlin could be accused of being responsible. But the climate in the country is their responsibility.

AMANPOUR: The climate which says? SIMONOV: Don't go against us. Don't go into details, etc, etc, all these things is a part of the climate. And the climate is a part of with what killed her.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The Kremlin denied any involvement in her murder.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): These journalist (inaudible) the Russian government. But her influence of political life here was insignificant. This is the assassination of a woman, a maza (ph) directed against the current Russian leadership.

AMANPOUR: Last August, Putin's prosecutor general said he would crack the case, even arresting state security officers. But they insist the plot was hatched by Putin's opponents overseas.

YULIA LATYNINA, EKHO MOSKVY: It seems that Mr. Putin was really interested in who killed Politkovskaya, whether it was his left foot or his right hand?

AMANPOUR: Today, journalist Yulia Latynina is one of few uncensored voices remaining on Russia's air waves. Her show airs on a radio station called Moscow's Echo.

(on camera): You to think the investigation is going reveal who killed her and why?

LATYNINA: The investigation uncovered as a fact that two teams of people were following Politkovskaya, they were FSB colonels, there were people from police that were watching her movements. That's not the way a private killer goes about business.

AMANPOUR: If they're trying to shut up and close down critical journalists, how does Moscow Echo, which is so outspoken, stay on the air?

LATYNINA: Putin can afford anybody who cries in the corner. He can't afford this to be on TV. But in the corner, why not?

AMANPOUR: So you're safe in your corner?

LATYNINA: I don't think we're very safe.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Next, Putin's most outspoken opponent.

GARRY KASPAROV, OTHER RUSSIA: Fear is the best way to run the country. Fear is for them. You have to restore fear.

AMANPOUR: World chess champion Garry Kasparov plans his next move.


AMANPOUR (on camera): From home on this quiet Moscow street, one man hopes to spark a democratic revolution.

We're now going into the house of Garry Kasparov, the grand chess master who is going to be figuring out tactics now to try and put his stamp on, some kind of opposition stamp on Russian politics.

How are you?

(voice-over): Garry Kasparov has just been named the presidential candidate of the anti-Putin movement, called the Other Russia.

KASPAROV: Can't use candidate, running, elections.

AMANPOUR (on camera): None of those normal democratic words?

KASPAROV: No, no, no. For the government it's a cover-up. For us it's a fight of principles.

AMANPOUR: You say you want to fight for your compatriots and for your country. But it looks like about 80 percent of you compatriots are quite happy with Putin.

KASPAROV: But again, we're talking about the pulse taken in the country that has no free press. And has a lot of fear.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And this is fear in action. One week before the elections, riot police arrest Garry Kasparov, charging him for leading an unsanctioned rally and chanting antigovernment slogans. A hastily convened court sentenced him to five days in prison.

Earlier, we had followed Kasparov's attempt to register Other Russia's candidates. A coalition of Putin's opponents from left, right and center.

(on camera): This is what the democratic opposition in Russia amounts to these days. A few dozen of Kasparov's die hard loyalists trying to get themselves on the ballot for Russia's next elections. The question is, what will be their biggest obstacle, the Putin government or the indifference of the Russian people?

Do you know Kasparov?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He would be better off sticking to chess.

AMANPOUR: Kasparov emerges from the election commission through a throng of foreign press. For Russian television, this event didn't even happen.

Did you get on the ballots?

KASPAROV: No, no, no. Of course not.

Nobody can be on there unless the Kremlin allows you to be there.

AMANPOUR (on camera): So if you're not on the ballot and you're not able to get on television and you can barely raise, money, what can you do? What's the point?

KASPAROV: The point of what we're doing is to show there's an alternative.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): But his alternative movement has been harassed every step of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They're holding (inaudible) up. (inaudible) other Russia.

AMANPOUR: Here, 18 of his delegates were swept into this armored vehicle. But the presence of our cameras got one of them released on the spot.

What happened? Why did they take you in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't know. I was just walking by when they saw my blue folder and hey recognized me as a delegate.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Is this like a campaign of intimidation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, it's supposed to play with people's mind.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This campaign of intimidation has been led by pro-Kremlin youth groups. The so-called Putin youth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You will never succeed in making a revolution in this country. You will never succeed in imposing America's government here.

AMANPOUR: America's government? What is Maxim Mivchenko talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We came here to show the embassy this is how things look to us. This is how America screams and squeals.

AMANPOUR: He's the leader of one of the youth groups called Mosiya Molodaya (ph), or Young Russia.

(on camera): We saw you outside the American Embassy at a demonstration carrying a pig. Why so bitter?

MAXIM MISHCHENKO, YOUNG RUSSIA: (through translator): These piglets symbolize Russians that look for directions from United States. These people don't understand that their political positions will pollute their own backyard.

AMANPOUR: So you think any opposition here, like Garry Kasparov, had to be an American agent?

MISHCHENKO: Garry Kasparov is an honorary U.S. citizen. He loves that country, not this country. Such people should take no part in the Russian politics. AMANPOUR (voice-over): Where does Maxim get these ideas? From President Putin himself. At a pre-election rally, he said the opposition were behaving like jackals.

PUTIN (through translator): Unfortunately, there are some that scavenge outside the gates of foreign embassies.

AMANPOUR: At these special summer camps organized by Nashi, the largest pro-Kremlin youth group, 10,000 young Russians enjoy the great outdoors and a healthy dose of political indoctrination. Kasparov and other Russian leaders, for example, are depicted as prostituting themselves for America.

(on camera): Do you think the American administration has a plan against Russia?

MISHCHENKO: Yes, I think so. Because Russia has one-third of the world's resources. U.S. needs this oil. If not now, then later. When this happens, the world will be shaken by colossal wars. And I want my people to be ready for this.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Putinism is pate resident patriotism for this young crowd. Maxim Mishchenko is not just any angry young man, he is a candidate for parliament in Putin's party.

MISHCHENKO: When we started this battle, we didn't know the enemy within or who defeats the dragon that's trying to steal our country and drink its blood, our oil. America is feeding the dragon called the Other Russia.

AMANPOUR (on camera): We went to a youth rally. Various different of these sort of Putin youth groups are really demonizing you. Are you not afraid for yourself?

KASPAROV: Yes. I am afraid. Everybody understands it is dangerous and staying here and doing nothing is totally wrong. So the choice is would I leave my country or stay here and fight? Right now we're under threat. Our king can be mated.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): When we come back, how President Putin reined in Russia's once independent television news which had been one of the tangible triumphs of Russian democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, Vladimir Putin is a typical control freak.



AMANPOUR: The Kremlin, the mighty fortress at the heart of Moscow is the ultimate symbol of absolute power. But when Vladimir Putin first strode up this rode carpet almost eight years ago, it capped a meteoric rise from political obscurity.

YEVGENY KISELEV, JOURNALIST: When it was announced that Vladimir Putin was Russia's new prime minister, most people said Vladimir with who?

AMANPOUR: Back then, Yevgeny Kiselev was Russia's leading television news anchor at the major news network NTB.

And this is how NTB's satirical puppet show "Cookly" (ph) introduced Putin. Yanked out of obscurity to run Russia by an ailing President Boris Yeltsin who was incapacitated by illness and alcohol. But once Putin took over, Cookly's days were numbered. The man behind the puppets was Victor Shenderovich.

VICTOR SHENDEROVICH, POLITICAL SATIRIST (through translator): You can't be an authoritarian leader if people on television are pointing the finger at you and laughing.

AMANPOUR: Like in this episode, called "Groundhog Day." A dazed Putin keeps waking up to the same news bulletins announcing his plans to end corruption and the Chechen War. But nothing every changes. But in reality, Putin would soon change everything.

Like coverage of the disastrous Chechen War, Russia's Vietnam. Under Boris Yeltsin, NTB reporters were fiercely independent but Putin kept NTB and other Russian media outlets far from the action.

KISELEV: When Yeltsin left office and Putin came in, NTB came under attack. Probably the first political campaign that was launched by Putin as president of Russia.

AMANPOUR: Shenderovich says NTB staffers were given an ultimatum. Surrender your independence or your television station.

SHENDEROVICH: The three demands were end the critical coverage of the Chechen War, stop telling people about corruption in the Kremlin and lastly, remove the face of number one from "Cookly." When I heard this, I saw it as a creative challenge to write an episode about Putin without Putin.

AMANPOUR: He came up with an episode straight from the Bible. But it couldn't have been more irreverent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just finished talking to him.

AMANPOUR: Putin was the burning bush, the invisible God laying down the law.

SHENDEROVICH: The Ten Commandments were love your president, don't kill anyone except a Chechen. Don't steal anything except federal property and so on. So we revealed their ultimatum and made fun of it. And that was the last straw.

AMANPOUR: The last straw, special police forces stormed NTB's parent company looking for proof of financial crimes. Next, Gazprom, the state energy giant bought out NTB. And that was the end of Yevgeny Kiselev and his independent news team.

(on camera): What upset Putin so much about your channel, your programs? KISELEV: In my opinion, Vladimir Putin is a typical control freak. He's obsessive about controlling everything. I think that as a former intelligence officer, he thinks that if you do not control something ...

AMANPOUR: That something will control you.

KISELEV: That something will control you.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Before Kiselev was forced out, he and his team of journalists had a final meeting with President Putin inside the Kremlin.

KISELEV: He said responsible media should support the president and the government and blablablabla. Like that for three hours. He simply did not understand us. It was not a conversation. It was a bitter argument. And Putin did not like that. He started to talk to us as if we were his enemies.

AMANPOUR: But Putin soon discovered that the camera could be his friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Television camera loves him. His popularity after a number very successful appearances on television started to grow like this.

KISELEV: Television was the tool to his rise to power. That's why Putin was so keen to control it.

AMANPOUR: When we come back, why the Russian people seem so willing to go along as Putin consolidates his power and silences his critics.


AMANPOUR: Fashion week in Russia, a chance for models and fashion designers to strut their stuff. And among these trendsetters are some of President Putin's biggest fans. Like fashion editor Evelina Khromchenko.

EVELINA KHROMCHENKO, FASHION MAGAZINE EDITOR: Putin's image, it is strong and I love it. He understands that his appearance is very important for the country. I am extremely happy that now in Putin's era, Russia is not equal to myfair (ph), to caviar and to vodka. We have something more in my country to show to the world.

AMANPOUR: Something to show the world, like this wild club scene on opening night. Alex Shumsky produces fashion week.

ALEXANDER SHUMSKY, PRODUCER, RUSSIAN FASHION WEEK: Russia is open now. It's quite important to let people know to crush the stereotypes.

AMANPOUR: He's married to Evelina. Together they're Moscow's most fashionable power couple.

SHUMSKY: Putin came to power and after a few years, everybody got the feeling that stability arrived. Putin means stability.

AMANPOUR: Under Putin, Russia has gone from rags to riches. And the government is flush with the profits of the private energy companies it's taken over. When oil prices surged past $70 a barrel, Putin's approval ratings soared up to 70 percent.

Today, Russia is one of the top markets for luxury goods. While the rich get ridiculously rich, the average Russian's personal income has doubled as well. The chaos and poverty of the '90s, Russia's first decade of democracy, is just a bad memory.

RUSTAM TOPCHIEV, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: What can you say? It's very difficult to control the country if you're being nice, 100 percent democratic. I believe you have to be strong and very tough.

AMANPOUR: So now that there's plenty to go around, Rustam Topchiev, like most Russians, are more than willing to go along.

TOPCHIEV: I like Putin's Russia. It gives opportunities. I just remember the time of the Soviet Russia. And in the shop you could see only butter lying there, nothing else.

AMANPOUR: Rustam, chief marketing manager with a major company enjoys a cappuccino in a chic cafe he waits to meet his client, Starbucks.

TOPCHIEV: I started working in the biggest bank in Russia. My salary actually was $300 a month which wasn't enough because there were girls, there were traveling, there was all this kind of stuff and my friends used to have more money than me. I thought you need to develop.

AMANPOUR: And as Rustam learned, you have to jump at every opportunity.

TOPCHIEV: Once I came to the basketball court with my friend I saw my friend wearing new sneakers, he said, where do you get money to buy these ones and he said, my brother offered to bring him to work at a real estate company and it's a good field to earn money. Would you like to join us.

And I thought, if you want to develop, you've got to take steps, you've got to move. The more you work, the better results you get. I believe that today we're making future.

AMANPOUR: This is Moscow's communist past. And this is Moscow today.

TOPCHIEV: The traffic is the really bad nowadays.

AMANPOUR: Rushing headlong into its capitalist future.

TOPCHIEV: If you want to earn a million in this country, you can do it. I am more than sure there are people who sit on their TV set the whole day and speaking with themselves about how bad is there life, I don't have time for that. Because I have a lot of things to do.

AMANPOUR: And so does Evelina Khromchenko. She has three minutes to finish her editorial before the presses roll out the latest edition of the glossy fashion magazine "L'Officiel."

Like the high powered fashion editor in the film "The Devil Wears Prada," Evelina's style is take charge.

In fact, she was the voice of Meryl Streep's character in the Russian version of the film.

It's time for Evelina to get back on the set of "Fashion Court." It's a television game show that tries to teach Russians that even babushkas can have style. Evelina prosecutes women accused of fashion crimes by their families and friends.

KHROMCHENKO: Imagine, your friends and relatives say you are not good looking. You are not fashionable. You must change yourself. And this is Channel One. This is the most important channel in our country. In the end of the program, the hero is totally changed and the hero totally beautiful. And when he or she looks upon herself in the mirror, she understands. She has the right to be beautiful. And this is the most important item of our program. We must show that every woman is a queen.

AMANPOUR: For Rustam and his friends, nothing if more important than tonight's Russia versus England soccer match. Not even elections and the battle for democracy.

TOPCHIEV: Take a look at the elections, everything will be sold out there without me. There's no opposition in this country. Everything is fought (ph), everything is under control.

AMANPOUR: And especially tonight, it's soccer, not politics that gets them cheering.

TOPCHIEV: I like being a resident of this country nowadays.

AMANPOUR: Russia has just pulled off a stunning upset against the star-studded England team.

Coming up, who represents the future of Russia? Those celebrating their president's birthday or those mourning the death of Russia's conscience?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can come to this place and say, Anna, we did at least this.


AMANPOUR: It's exactly one year since Anna Politkovskaya was murdered, simply for doing her job. On this wet and gloomy anniversary in Moscow, colleagues from her newspaper pay tribute at her graveside. And then they gather at the paper to reminisce about all she meant and all that they have lost.

SERGEI SOKOLOV, DEP. EDITOR, "NOVAYA GAZETA": Corruption has infected the whole system. From street sweeper to the president. Anyone who tries to disturb the system just gets swept away. AMANPOUR: It's the first of many commemorations honoring her life and her work. These are the images from Russia's open wounds, from the war zones that Politkovskaya visited to tell the victim's stories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Anna Politkovskaya was not an ordinary person. She was a journalist who was not afraid of telling the truth and trying to change the country. For us, she's an, an example to try and copy.

AMANPOUR: Unlike this journalism student, most young Russians have probably not heard of Anna Politkovskaya. Hardly surprising.

On this day, the TV networks had something more important to report.

(on camera): In a remarkable coincidence, Anna Politkovskaya's murder happened on the same day as President Putin's birthday. Now, on the one-year anniversary, the Putin youth have organized into big rallies celebrating their big hero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday to you happy birthday Mr. President. Happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We want to support him and ask him to stay for a third term because we know that with him, everything will be OK in Russia.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The bubbly at this meeting of the Putin fan club is non alcoholic. Nobody here is old enough to drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're happy with him. We love him.

AMANPOUR: And so does Maxim Mishchenko, the leader of Young Russia. He and his group formed a birthday smiley face. But they're given to sinister conspiracy theories. They believe Politkovskaya's murder was part of a U.S. plot to discredit Russia.

MISHCHENKO (through translator): We're convinced Putin couldn't have given an order on his birthday to kill a journalist. People from the opposition did it, or those who pay them.

AMANPOUR: This kind of talk makes former national news anchor Yevgeny Kiselev very nervous.

KISELEV: The government now needs an enemy. When the government starts to indoctrinate a whole generation, the it starts to poison the minds of a whole generation of youth, this is very dangerous.

AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, Russian TV showed President Putin receiving birthday congratulation from the power elite, much like in the old days.

SHENDEROVICH (through translator): The masses want a czar and this is no joke. Eight years ago we did it as satire. But now it's reality.

AMANPOUR: A reality that Victor Shenderovich continues to make fun of, only now on radio, because he's been pushed off national television.

SHENDEROVICH (through translator): I am not sad about what happened to me, I'm sad about what happened to Russia. In countries where you can't make fun of the leaders, like North Korea or Stalin's Russia, people live poorly. And eventually some don't live at all.

ILYA POLITKOVSKY, ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA'S SON: This is the last pictures from the supermarket cameras.

AMANPOUR: The CCTV cameras?


AMANPOUR: Anna Politkovskaya's son Ilya has just published "What For," his mother's final book.

POLITKOVSKY: We're sure that - before (ph) my mother was killed is inside that book, definitely.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Did she discuss President Putin?

POLITKOVSKY: Yes, she was blaming him for the situation of human rights in Russia. Personally him.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Today, Politkovskaya's fate has become the rallying cry for those protesting the assault on human rights and on democracy in Russia.

MASHA GAIDAR, UNION OF RIGHT FORCES (through translator): We will not forget, and we will not forgive. We will counter these people and they will bear the responsibility for all these crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I came because my heart aches. And because of what's happening in the country. A horrible, repressive regime rules the country. And all our liberties are ruined. But we're thinking of our grandchildren, so we'll carry on.

AMANPOUR: Garry Kasparov chose a quieter protest. Putting up an unauthorized plaque outside the building where Politkovskaya was gunned down.

What does it say?

KASPAROV: It says in this house - it's a little bit odd in English - Anna Politkovskaya lived and was killed here.

AMANPOUR: Her friend and lawyer Karinna Moskalenko is still fighting for Anna's name.

MOSKALENKO: At 1:00 in the morning, we finished our complain to the European Court of Human Rights and now I can come to my place. And now I can come to this place and say, Anna, we did at least this.

AMANPOUR (on camera): It's still difficult.

KASPAROV: And it's that irony or a horrible coincidence or a conspiracy that she was killed on the day of Putin's birthday.

Whatever happens, those two events now are stuck to each other in history books. The day Putin was born and Politkovskaya was murdered.