tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg November 28, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: mikhail khodorkovsky is here. 's richeste russia "riches man and the most famous political prisoner until president putin pardoned him in december 2013. by then he had served 10 years in prison. he now lives in exile in london and leads a foundation called open russia. they are laying groundwork for human rights in russia. the journalist writes that he is the most influential russian to ask critical questions about a post-putin russia.
i am pleased to have him back on this program. welcome. mikhail: thank you. charlie: what brings you to new york? mikhail: i have my son's family living here. i have two granddaughters, so i came to visit them. we will spend thanksgiving together. charlie: happy thanksgiving. tell me what you have been doing since you were on this program last time. mikhail: as i had planned to do, i have launched the work of the open russia foundation, which just recently we turned into a movement in helsinki, a sociopolitical movement. within the frameworks of this movement, we are informing russian society about what the kremlin would not like to inform the russian society.
we engage in helping young russian politicians to participate in the elections to the state duma and will continue to help them get elected into regional parliaments, or at least participate in the pre-election show that is called elections in russia. we are also working in a number of other directions. i think that our activity in russia is noticeable. charlie: in what way? you are having an impact on the in getting people who agree with you elected? mikhail: to be elected in russia today without the present administration's approval is impossible. the present administration is very obviously, not going to give us such approval, but we
can help, and we do help, young politicians, at least present themselves to society, introduced themselves, to present an alternative to russian society. what the main problem in russia is, is that people, they do not really want putin to be president forever, but he has cleaned up the political field so much that society doesn't see an alternative. and everybody is afraid. what will happen when putin goes? the task we have set is to show society that there is an alternative to putin, and that nothing horrible will happen when he goes. on the contrary, it will give the country a new and positive impulse. charlie: that is an interesting way of putting it. you are building for a post-pu tin time. does that mean you believe putin can be president of russia as long as he wants to? today, that is what it
looks like. i don't think that in reality, it will be so. i think that if he does not this by 2024, after that, will take place with greater problems for russia and for him personally. but for now, at any rate, that is what it looks like, that he might just stay there, heading russia as long as he wants. we are telling people that is not so, that between 2018 and 2024 we await some serious changes in russia and we need to be prepared for that. we need to know what to do and we need to see those people who are going to be doing it. charlie: would you like to be president of russia? now, that is a question i can tell you, absolutely no question about it, no. charlie: why not?
mikhail: the post of russian president, especially in the crisis in which the current regime is going to leave russia, is not the sweetest spot to be in. i would be happy of some young politician would be found who could really want to take this post. at any rate, we are helping such politicians to show themselves. i see my task somewhat differently. i see that at the moment, when today's regime falls apart, and it certainly is going to fall apart at some point, there will be a huge problem. we cannot conduct elections immediately in order to immediately elect a new, honest, honestly elected power in the country. what today's regime has done doesn't allow that to happen. to have immediate elections. they have adopted such laws, they have set such people in the
electoral commissions that it is impossible to conduct an honest election. there have to be a transition period, during which political reform have to take place and is honest elections can be prepared for. we figure it will take 24 months to get this done. this work is something myself and my team could take upon ourselves, or at least participate in getting it done. charlie: can you go back to russia? mikhail: under today's regime, i can return to russia only in order to immediately go to jail. after this regime leaves, there is no doubt that i will be able to return, and i will return. charlie: they made it clear to you that if you come back, you go to jail. mikhail: well, of course. at first they said this softly, and then a few more times, said
it even more harshly. charlie: how did they say it? mikhail: first, the supreme court of the russian federation, for the first time in history, refused to abide by a judgment of the european court of human rights that had ruled that my verdict should be reviewed. subsequently, they opened a new criminal case against me and even requested interpol, interpol obviously refuse them. and today there are dozens of people in the country who are being searched, being brought in for interrogation. they are being intimidated, specifically because of their association with me and the work that i do. charlie: do you believe the russian regime is a criminal regime?
mikhail: i would say that the technologies that they use attempts to buy people who do not agree with them. if you can't buy them, then intimidate them. the creation of the hierarchy within themselves through letting everybody give permission to steal on his turf. that really does sound like a criminal model of behavior. and when we work with this regime, we need to understand that this is how they see things . for example, they can't realize that when a person is trying to make a concession to them, it is not because he is afraid of them, but because he is trying to find a common language with them, a common solution. any attempt to meet them
halfway, they view it as a weakness and a signal of the fact that you can and should keep on pressing. charlie: so, this is a recommendation you would have for president elect trump, that he should push forward in terms of negotiating with them, but do it with the expectation that he cannot allow them to believe he is weak? mikhail: i think that president trump, as a person who spent a large part of his life and business, understands such a style that some counterparties in business sometimes have, but there is another point i want to make here. when we are working in business, we understand that our agreements with our counterparty are supported by a legal system, which both i and my counterparty adhere to.
if we have agreed on something and signed it, we are going to do it. president-elect trump, in his country, in america, also understands that he can't just do whatever he wants because he has got a congress, he has got a supreme court, the senate and public opinion that stand against him. talkings going to be with a person who is completely free from any institutional support and institutional checks and balances. he could sign an agreement with you today, and tomorrow he will violate it, and there's nobody in the country and nothing in the country that will prevent him from doing that. this is a specific feature that needs to be taken into account, and that's why i say that strategic agreements with vladimir putin are hardly
likely. charlie: even though we have nuclear agreements with him. with russia. mikhail: i very much hope that nuclear arms is not a subject that is going to be put on the table immediately. that is, after all, something that is best not to even think about. but if we go beyond the bounds of a mutual nuclear deterrence, all other agreements need to be based on some kind of common values. there are no such common values. charlie: and what we call rule of law. mikhail: absolutely. and then we get a very serious problem after this. when the president of the united states says something, even though he is a very influential person within the american political system, he does know
that there are some things, some lines, he cannot cross. president putin does not understand that and does not realize this. for example -- charlie: so, there is no restraint on his power in russia? mikhail: absolutely so. and he projects this onto his counterparty at the negotiating table. if they say to him, will i do have constraints or there is something i can't do, he thinks they are trying to deceive him. charlie: what does he want from the united states? what would he want from the new government of the united states? mikhail: putin's global task is regime is not his replaced. that is his global task. but because in his head the ,hole world stands against him
and he projects this point of view on to all of russian society, he needs to be shown an enemy. an enemy will always be such a convenient an enemy because it is powerful, but far away. that is, you can call them an enemy without having to worry about it. and he needs little victories, like he has got in syria or ukraine. so, putin right now is going to try to get from the new american administration a consolidation, if you will, an and knowledge meant of his victories, the annexation of crimea, what is going on in eastern ukraine, what is going on in syria. he needs for the new administration to say, all right, vladimir, this is your
victory. you won, you did everything right. we are going to establish the new world order together with you. i'm not sure if the new administration in the u.s. is ready for such a thing. we do not know yet. charlie: clearly, the new administration does not even have its team together, but that is one of the questions, the important questions, that came out of the campaign. what will be the relationship if donald trump wins between a president trump and a president putin? what kind of relationship? what kind of understandings might they have about the world order? my opinion is that putin has already worked out that model that he would like to use with donald trump. he worked it out on berlusconi. he's going to look for some kind of personal understanding, personal relations along the
lines of, here we are, you and i weigh up on top get just the -- way up on top, just you and i, just the two of us. i am not sure the american political system could handle this style of relations. charlie: in syria, what does he want? ,oes he want to have his person bashar al-assad, stay in power, so that russia gets what? mikhail: as i already explained, taskedpinion, putin is t
to keep his regime unchanged. because this is done using methods that are not very welcomed in developed democratic countries, he needs to create the various points where things -- that he can change. that is, if you do this for me, if you allow me to do what i ,ant in russia's inner orbit then i can give you a concession here. so, what he wants to do is first create problems and then make it so these problems can be resolved only with him. syria is one of these problems that has been created specifically so that it can then be exchanged for something for his line of behavior. and it has not been unsuccessful, i have to say. it is another matter, that as
was the case in ukraine, you need to pay for this with the lives of our soldiers, but human lives are not nearly as valuable to him as they might be to others. charlie: and he views syria and ukraine as a bargaining chip to maintain the stability and the survival of his regime in moscow? mikhail: i would say ukraine might have a value in and of itself on top of that. charlie: as a border? mikhail: it is a near neighbor, and you would like to have a government in kiev that is answerable to moscow, yes. but these are indeed just playing cards for him and nothing more, bargaining chips. charlie: how weak is the russian economy? ,ikhail: the russian economy
and i am very sad to say this, is deteriorating. it is gradually losing its competitiveness. howan see this easily from modern-day products are becoming a smaller and smaller part of the whole manufacturing base. i think we are really add to the next circle already. even education is getting worse because, for the kind of industry that you got in russia today, you don't need the kind of education that we used to have. nobody needs that science. is takinggeneration place and this is a process that has gone quite a way already. does this mean that as a result of these economic problems that the regime will collapse? no, that does not mean that.
economic pressure, declining price of oil, which is not declining, by the way. you know much more about that than i do. probably again come unfortunately, had this experience with iran. when the standard of living's deterioration is compensated for by propaganda about enemies outside of russia are attacking and doing nasty things to our economy. putin is using this iranian experience, the whole nine yards . in terms of europe, what are his objectives in europe? that the mainnk goal again, is the same one i
methods that he wants to achieve united by destroying a europe. putin, it is much more effective and promising to work with individual national governments than with a united europe that naturally, has opportunities in this case to stand for its common values and common interests much better. what he is doing now is these b reaks, he is provoking these breaks, these cracks. we know that putin right now is both ideologically and financially supporting radical movements, both left and right. that is irrelevant to him. is thatimportant to him
society in europe be polarized, and as a result of this, for europe to start breaking apart. also nottely, he is without successes in this area. this is a general trend of movement away from globalizational processes, but he is putting himself into it very successfully. charlie: and you do see certain leaders announcing a kind of respect for putin, announcing a kind of willingness to do business with him, so to speak. mikhail: yes, yes. putin is very effective. that the question of political corruption has not been taken off the table at all. in european democratic countries, in many of the
democratic countries of europe. in some cases, this is not direct corruption. it is intermediated. in other cases, it is pressured through propaganda tools which unfortunately, in today's united europe, have not turned out to be -- there is no alternative to them. but sometimes it is straight ahead corruption, which unfortunately, sometimes actually achieves goals. charlie: he just fired one of his principles in moscow for corruption. what was that about? well, as you know, in thata there is a saying the person who yells "stop thief" the loudest is the thief himself. [laughter] charlie: i did not know that, but the person who says, "theif,
thief.thief" is the mikhail: that is not the only thing here. in russia, the corruption agenda does resonate with society and the opposition obviously, tries to raise this agenda. co-optaturally, wants to it to himself. conduct ahe has to purge, a cleansing of his circle and for this purging, the corruption theme gives it a nice, noble facade to this cleanup. although of course, you understand there isn't a single clean person in putin's circles. some are more corrupt and some are less corrupt. some act more decently and some act must decently.
that just about everybody is corrupt. i am saying maybe there is some one person hiding in some place it was not corrupt. i don't want to paint all of them. mikhail: does that include your fellow oligarchs that we are familiar with some of their names? are they, by definition, corrupted if they are continuing to do business in russia and seemingly, have a good relationship with putin? in 2003, we were at a crossroads. we could either have gone to an open economy without corruption, continued theve same path. putin made the decision for the entire country. let me put it this way. it is hard for me to imagine how you can work in russia today direct, oring
indirect participation in the corruption of processes. let me give you one example. this is actually very visible. money, as theyd accused him. now, everybody is convinced of this and there is a lot of writing about this in russia. a very large number of people got money. government employees and people in the uniformed services. a large rosneft shareholder is british petroleum. could representatives of bp not know that in the central office of rosneft, there are systemic bribes being given to members of the government, members of the cabinet, employees of the law
enforcement agencies? well, maybe they might not have known, but i find that hard to believe. charlie: possible, but you would find it incredible? how much money does putin have? mikhail: when i used to be asked this question, i always used to answer that i think personally, he doesn't take money, because why does he need money? the latest investigation, you may recall come all these bahamian offshore companies have shown me that even in 2012, until 2012, there was a in which money was from thed by people
inner circle, so i cannot imagine that this kind of moneybox could be in place for anyone other than putin. from hundreds of millions of dollars, all the way down to $600,000, which is kind of interesting. it seems like this is that mechanism that putin doesn't want to stop or cannot stop anymore. this is how it is done. in these criminal circles, you need to pay tribute to the boss man on top. part of what you gain, you pay upwards. whether he needs it or not is another question. how much has accumulated there? i would say probably tens of millions, but i have no idea. charlie: one last question, in
terms of your advice to the new president of the united states, in dealing with him, would be what? your advice to trump. what kind of relationship should he have with putin? what warnings would you give him? mikhail: probably in his rather lengthy business career, he's had cases when he's had to do business with people whom he didn't trust one bit. and who, for various reasons, he knew would be able to not adhere to their obligations. anybody in big business has to
deal with such people, nevertheless, at times. that is the experience he's got to think back on when he's dealing with president putin, and understand that one of the talents, i really do think this is a talent of president putin, is the ability to have good relations with people, to gain their trust. he was taught this back in the kgb still. in this sense, i have to say they taught him well. you've got to remember that. charlie: you spent 10 years in prison. you went from way up here to here. i would assume that was not a pleasant experience for you. you and i talked about it, and we talked about what you had to have to be able to exist.
what did you learn? if you knew that was what faced you, would you have conducted yourself differently? mikhail: i would very much want to believe that if even had i known what awaited me, i would still have acted the same. although, i did not expect that it would be so long and so hard. i am glad that right now, at any rate, i don't need to once again have to make a decision like i did, but if it is necessary, i
will make that decision again. charlie: you would? because it was who you were? mikhail: yes, because that is me. and to be true to yourself is more important than the conditions in which you find yourself, at least that's how i feel today, and i hope that i would still have enough strength and courage for that if i didn't need to go through that again. charlie: there is an assumption that you have access to millions of dollars, certainly a lot less than you once had, but that you have access to all the money you need, there are efforts ongoing, legal efforts to get that money. where does that stand?
mikhail: the main part of the money that i have disposal to is free money. i use it for the work that i do in russia. part of the money is still today frozen. these freezing's took place when i was in jail, and right now my lawyers and i are continuing slowly to work at freeing this money. charlie: this is places like ireland and elsewhere? mikhail: yes, we are working in an irish court right now. we have filed suit there to release this money, and i'm hoping that -- well, maybe not as fast as i would like to happen, but i'm hoping it will be solved. charlie: where will the money go to?
mikhail: this is just my money. the money that belonged to -- today are under the management of their management, and i am not a shareholder or a member of its current management, so i have nothing to do with that money at all. his money does exist, i read about it in the press, and i'm told about it by my friends. that this money that still remains is other money that will be distributed amongst the shareholders. there is no money that has been frozen there, to my knowledge. charlie: russia issued an international arrest warrant last year charging you with the murder of a siberian mayor in 1998 and the attempted murder of a man who was head of a rival oil company in 1999.
mikhail: this was a rather high profile case and this was investigated in 1999. the people were found who were guilty of this, and it was determined who had put out the contract for this murder. in 2003, when the case again, all of those decisions were repealed and the witnesses were forced to finger completely other people. so this has been going on since 2003. it is being used exactly in those moments when there is a need to put pressure on me or my colleagues. i greatly regret to say that this is not just idle talk, but the last person still in jail is
sitting in jail on this case, he has a life sentence. he has been made an offer several times to finger his several times to finger his bosses, to finger the company's bosses and he has refused to do this. and has remained in life imprisonment. a year ago, when i was already at liberty, i told him publicly that i call on him to give whatever testimony they want from him. that is just fine, let him say whatever they want him to say. i'm confident that nobody is going to believe them anyway. if this gives him freedom, let him do that, but he has refused again. and he remains with a life
sentence, and it's very difficult for me to talk with his mother, for example. it's all very difficult. charlie: do you fear for yourself? mikhail: of course there are risks, but compared to those risks that existed when i was in jail, when just one finger motion would be enough to make me cease to exist, these are all risks that i am just not paying any attention to at all. i know that until today, putin does regard me as one of his most acute opponents. he doesn't have too many of them, but i am certainly seen as one of the most serious of them. the reason is understandable, putin believes that everything this world takes place only for
money, and because i have money, obviously i am the most dangerous. if he gives the command to kill me, it will be difficult for me to survive that. he has many opportunities. but for now, this command doesn't exist, and i'm hoping we will never get to that point. charlie: why you think it doesn't exist? mikhail: i would like to believe that my efforts and the efforts of people who think like i do are enough that is such a command does get issued, that i would wind out about it. charlie: so somehow you would know somebody who would give you an early warning. you have friends?
mikhail: i want to believe that this is so. i do think that i would know, and this is what allows me to live peacefully now. maybe i am deluding myself, but it's impossible to live if all you think about every day is, am i going to get murdered today? at some point you need to just set that aside and keep on living how you live, to do what you feel is the right thing to do. but if at some point you are going to have to die, none of us live forever anyway, right? charlie: right. but you are saying you have to live in a way that you are not in any way restraining yourself out of any fear of what may happen? you have basically made that decision that what you will say and do, other than going back to russia, in encouraging democracy, encouraging the rule of law and encouraging free
institutions, has become your life's work. or not? mikhail: that's the point of my life today. it has become the point of my life today, and i'm not going to set that aside, because this makes my life somewhat more dangerous. ok, so it is more dangerous, but at the end of the day, if you're going to live any other way, the same thing as dying today anyway. we've got to live the way we think is the right way. and then that can be called life. if we live how some of the else is telling us to live, that is not life, that is just survival. i don't want that. i've spent 10 years having to live that way, and i don't want to do that anymore. so i'm working away today. ♪
way to solve problems together with the kremlin. an even better opportunity existed in 2011 before the president, totally counter to our constitution, decided to return to office. he has passed those crossroads already and now i just don't see any other way other than to help my country as a people to prepare for the moment when this regime will fall, because it will certainly fall. and the situation in which the country will be at that time is not going to be a very good one. even today it is not a great situation, but i fear it will be continuing only. right now, putin by 2018 wants to offer a new model to russian society.
i think this model will look very much like the chinese model. when you have relative freedom in the economy, and it is quite big, it will be compensated for by a very tough, harsh political system. that is not going to work in russia. i guarantee it's not going to work in russia. in order to convince yourself this is not going to work, or to convince himself that it not going to work, is going to take putin a couple of years. by 2020, he's going to have to start thinking about leaving. charlie: why do you think it will not work? there is an authoritarian streak within the russian culture, as it was in china. many russians believe that yeltsin and others made a mistake, they should have fixed
the economy and left the politics alone, as the chinese did. why do you believe it will never work to do it that way? at this late date. mikhail: russia is a quite developed country, with social mentality that has developed, and this is a different mentality from the chinese one. charlie: and a rich, cultural history. mikhail: our state structure doesn't have this idea of service that exists to a great deal in china. at the same time, people in russia have really gotten used to living for themselves. all this talk about how there is this vertical of power in russia, this harsh system of managing the country, actually,
these are lies. there is no vertical of power in russia. putin runs only a very small number of people in his inner circle, and he resolves specific, concrete tasks. the main task number one is to stay in power. the country on the whole actually is run by a whole bunch of people, not a single group of people, but a heterogeneous people, each of whom has his own piece of turf. you cannot develop a normal economy in russia if you don't have an independent judiciary. but the moment you have an independent judiciary, today's system of governance falls apart. you cannot adopt normal laws in such a huge country if your parliament doesn't professionally discuss these laws come as is done, say, in the u.s. congress.
the moment you have a normal, independent, influential parliament, today's system of power falls apart. you cannot conduct a modern economy in russia if you don't have a small and medium-size business. if you don't have independent entrepreneurial associations, the moment this monopolization of the economy that currently exists in the country starts falling apart, 70% of gdp is in putin's inner circle's hands. charlie: is it with putin, or his circle of friends? mikhail: they don't need privatization, either. they are perfectly happy with this economy being formerly in
the government's hands, but they are personally running it. i'll give you the example of rosneft. it is a state company. the state owns a substantial part of that company. according to our constitution, the russian government's sharing companies is not run by the president, but by the government. he has officially said he will not be accountable to the government. if you call that a state enterprise, i have no idea what section private property is. so the moment this monopolistic structure falls apart, and you need that for an economy to develop. monopolistic is killing development in russia. at that very moment, today's
regime falls. putin, even if he wants to conduct a reform, he cannot. i'm sure that he will realize this. i know that in the next two years, he's going to realize that. then no other variant other than totally collapsing the country, or leaving himself, he won't have any other alternative. charlie: do you believe you know him and understand him? mikhail: in the broadest, global sense, every person is so complicated that we never can say we understand somebody fully. but if we talk about the way he runs the country -- charlie: his mindset, about how he thinks about how to manage people and governance, i think that i and other people who been watching him for a long time understand him very well.
mikhail: in the past 10 years or so, he hasn't changed much at all. he has become a little bit more self-confident, maybe. charlie: with reason? mikhail: of course. i have always said that he is being successful in some of the things he is doing against the background of the falling apart of the russian economy, he's gotten lots of success in manipulating the western political system. not quite sure what russian citizens gain from that. charlie: who are the most important people to him? the five most important people he depends on for his control, success, survival? mikhail: i'm not really sure there are people on which he
depends directly. but there are people that can manipulate him quite successfully. inside russia, is considered number one in manipulating putin is igor -- also an extremely important person, strange as it may seem, for putin is the leader of chechnya. charlie: you believe he will fall, at some point in the future, there will be a russia without vladimir putin. mikhail: i think that such a reason will be putin's realization that any model that he can offer russia is not going to work. he has already offered russia
two models. he will offer a third one and it also will not be successful. that will lead to a psychological crisis and how that will be implemented, my image of the best option would be if putin tries to himself transfer power to his chosen successor, the successor will put together a roundtable or a constituent assembly that will form a transition government, conducted political reform, and lead the country out of crisis. and then in 24 months, honest elections. that would be the gentlest transformation possible. all the other ways of
transformation are much less gentle, and i don't even want to articulate them, because i don't want to bring harm to my country. charlie: thank you for coming. the great jimmie johnson is here, the 2016 nascar sprint cup champion. >> it's a group that realizes our cars were performing, 650 people build racecars for us. everybody locked arms and we knew we had a mountain to climb. and through working together, we did it, and just as the playoffs started, we were getting hot again. we won two events in the postseason and that led to the opportunity in miami. charlie: i follow formula one and they have a big climactic race coming up this weekend. the idea that is on the same
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