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tv   Fareed Zakaria GPS  CNN  June 5, 2022 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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victory. >> and see moments that still echo 50 years later. when you have a president who thinking he can do anything, we're in trouble. >> announcer: premiering tonight only on cnn. ththe following is a cnn special report. ♪ \s december 5th, 1989. it was a cold night in dresden, east germany. it would change the course of vladimir putin's life. the berlin wall had just fallen.
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[ chanting ] >> all of east germany, angry crowds lashed out on the streets. that night in dresden, they found a target. the local kgb headquarters. a mob surrounded the building, as the hour grew later, the crowd grew larger. inside, peering through the curtains was a young kgb lieutenant colonel named vladimir putin. >> he was terrified they were going to storm the building. >> putin was a junior officer, but the boss was away. he was in charge. the berlin wall had come down, police weren't going to help. he called for instruction. desperate for help, putin dialed
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kgb headquarters in moscow, over and over again. finally, one official told him simply, moscow is silent. >> i think it felt like a deep betrayal to him. >> vladimir putin was on his own. he went down into the bowels of the building and fired up the furnace. >> he finds himself in the basement, at a furnace shoveling documents, as he hears protests on the street. they were filing so many documents, that the furnace was blowing up. >> he burned so many secret as the crowd closed in. with the fire still raging. putin went outside and faced the
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mob by himself. there are armed guards inside, he told them. they will shoot you. >> he's able to bluff his way out of it, and tell the crowd, don't try it here, you're going to get hurt. >> the mob dispersed. >> this is the drama that stays with putin all the time. the fear of popular uprising. good evening, i'm fareed zakaria. we used to think we understood vladimir putin, smart but cold. ruthless but calculating. tough by rational. the kgb man who bluffed away the angry crowd. carefully accumulating power. now we see a different vladimir putin, reckless, emotional, a
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gambler, a terrible bloody assault on ukraine, despite military failures and massive costs. he's even made nuclear threats. should americans be afraid? 92% do not trust putin, highest negative rating that pew has ever recorded. what is he doing? what is he thinking? finding the answers would be a matter of life and death. the story begins at the moment he first rose to power. december 31st, 1999. one minute until the 21st century begins. one minute until vladimir putin becomes president of russia.
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it's a moment of high drama. russia reeling over putin's sudden ascendens. >> a lot of things happened quitly. >> outside the has of the kremlin, many know nothing about him. at theal started just hours earlier. suddenly yeltsin appeared on television. boris yeltsin, the first president of democratic russia, abruptly resigned. >> a surprise announcement that yeltsin is resigning as president, turning over power to his prime minister, vladimir putin. >> it was clear yeltsin had been struggling. >> drinking he's barely being propped up, and physically propped up. he disappears for weeks at a time. he's obviously had heart
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attacks. >> the sudden handover of power left russia and the world with one overwhelming question -- who is this guy? >> people who predict what type of president he would make of essentially blowing a lot of smoke. >> he could bring russia out of its decline or could be the leader that makes him into an authoritarian regime again. >> he came out of obscurity. i would say it was an accident that he was picked by bores yeltsin to be his successor. >> an accident, because boris yeltsin had already gone through five different prime ministers. >> he had pretty much cycled thus everybody.
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they had to guarantee that yeltsin would not be prosecuted after his term was over. >> yeltsin needed a get out of jail free card. vladimir putin delivered . >> the deal was made. a political unnotwithstanding clearly in charge of russia. >> to really understand it, we need to go back to the dramatic story of his life.
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ed capital of the old russian empire. he grew up in the city's darkest corners. >> he's a kid from the projects, a scrappy kid from the street. >> he lived in a single large room, a community apartment. >> he basically lived in the courtyard of a crumby building with rats. >> he was the only surviving child. >> his parents were in the working middle class, worked all the time. >> he often got into fights. >> he took up judo. he was small, short, and wanted some advantage off the bigger,
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stronger boys. >> it was a rattle. when i saw one, i would change it. he would scare them out with a stick, but one day, one refused to run. >> the rat lunges at him. all of a sudden he is defending himself in putin's telling of this tale, it has a moral. remember, he says, it's better not to corner anything. >> it would be a theme, tracked in a corker, only to fight his way out. he was face-to-face, yet he
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still managed to turn the table. >> they're shouting freedom, freedom. >> he came home to the soviet union, a country he did not recognize. his country had been transformed by glasnost. >> there is a sense that thing are changing. >> a romance with things western. the popular population -- the media opens up in all the these rough ways. >> freedom came fast, and it exposed the rock at the hard of
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communism. >> three of the most powerful republics have joined forces and declared the old union dead. >> in 1991, the soviet union finally collapsed. >> tonight in moscow, the red flag of the failed soviet union at last came down. the flag of russia rose. >> 300 years of history eraced. >> soviet institutions ceased to exist. among them, vladimir putin's beloved kgb. >> it wasn't clear who he was anymore. >> suddenly russia began to look like united states. >> today we're opening the first mcdonald's in moscow. >> coca-cola. >> almost overnight. >> mickey mouse.
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>> new freedoms, capitalism, western values. it all looked great from the west. to vladimir putin, it was a catas catastrophe. >> he views the breakup of the soviet unity, as he said himself, to be the greatest gop political tragedy of the 20th century. >> but it wasn't just geography to putin. the breakup he said for millions of russians away from the country they loved, a country in which they belonged. >> tenning of millions of russians, russian speakers were, quote, unquote, abandoned, ripped away from us. it didn't have to be. the soviet union was our common past. >> the most painful separation for putin. >> of all of the former parts of
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the soviet union, ukraine mattered the most. >> the loss putin never got over, also the czar's empire. >> because it had belonged to russia for 300 years. >> putin's brutal assault on ukraine may be the fulfillment of his greatest dream. the world sees an unprovoked bloodbath. putin sees a chance to restore the core of the russian empire. >> i think down deep in putin, there is this sense of extraordinary humiliation over the collapse of the soviet union, because it was that just the soviet union. it was the russian empire. >> he has seen the collapse of
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the empire once. i think in his mind he's rebuilding what was lost in 1991. >> the manse who is fighting for his imperial dreams has cut himself off from the world. at the started during covid and it has worsened. >> putin has become more isolated. >> his inner circle is said to be very small. >> fewer than a handful of people. >> now with the war going badly, a constant barrage of condemnation from the west, putin frequently lectures on values. >> the moral values in the west are rotten. >> we're better than the decadent west, immoral, weak,
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soft, comfort obsessed. >> some of the most deck adebt, to putin, are lgbtq people. >> they are destroying the christian faith and churches. >> he has broad uer gender fluidity, the men are in charge. >> he mocked people cannot get by without so-called gender freedom. he's condemned gay marriage. he says every family must have a mom and dad. yet his own familiar is not exactly "leave it to beaver." >> the woman believed to be his girlfriend, is tarted. >> since his divorce, he's said to have fathered several younger children with his girlfriend, a
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former gymnast. putin denies all of it. his private life is never talked about on public television. >> there's no critical news about putin on the air waves, none, not one word. >> the propagation, isolation, bizarre behavior, all worries those who watch him closely. >> he's backed into a corner. mikhail -- was a critic and ended up in years. >> when he was not greeted with flowers, it drove him literally insane. more scary, he has initiative to show the whole world he's great. >> irrattic, obsessed, enraged. is he now that cornered rat he oncen countered?
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september 11th, 2001. as the horrific attack unfolded in new york, russia's new president, vladimir putin, turned to a top adviser and asked, what can we do to help the americans? he was the first world leader to call the white house that day. i would like to say we are with you. >> in a heartfelt speech, he told americans -- we feel your pain. soon putin visited ground zero.
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provided weapons and crucial intelligence to fight the taliban. and declared emphatically to the world -- the cold war is over. there were glimmers of hope early on. ♪ i found my thrills on blueberry hill ♪ >> that putin could be america's friend. ♪ >> those hope are now long forgotten. how did the man, who once felt america's pain, become the man who hated the west ?
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in his first year as president, the world saw a very different vladimir putin. >> handshakes, more handshakes, with the prime minister of -- >> he charmed world leaders everywhere, visiting 18 countries around the globe. he made a dramatic speech to the german parliament in german. [ speaking foreign language ] >> promising that russia was a friendly european nation. [ applause ]
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[ speaking foreign language ] >> based on what i have seen so far, i think the united states can do business with this man. >> putin started out making gestures towards wanting to join nato. >> most famously -- >> we had a great dinner last night, had a bit of texas barbecue. >> putin won the heart of -- >> what we're talking about is a new relationship, so we can work together to make the world more peaceful. >> convincing him he was a fellow christian. >> i found him to be trustworthy. i got a sense of his soul. >> but there was more in his soul, a manipulative former spy, well trained in the art of deception. >> he was a kgb agent. >> and bitterly humiliated
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russian foreign agent, hellbent on making russia again, while his nation was still weak. >> food shortages -- >> after the collapse of the soviet union, the economic crisis was really terrible. >> but in the 2000s, oil prices skyrocketed. >> russians have never had so much money to spend, and they're spending it like there's no tomorrow. >> russia got rich. >> money is flooding into russia. >> and putin grew bolder. berated america for invading
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iraq. blasted the expansion of nato. and in 2007, he unleashed a tirade. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: the united states has overstepped its national borders in every way. >> in a startling speech in munich that marked a turning point. >> it leads to a situation where nobody feels secure. >> tough rhetoric. >> hasn't been heard since the cold ward war. >> he spent almost an hour scoscore a -- excoriating the united states, blaming us for everybody. >> now he says we're living in a world of unchecked power. you say you're bringing freedom, but you're bringing chaos. >> in retrospect, it was a
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portend to come. >> russian planes -- >> invading a former soviet republic, georgia. >> occupies 20% of the country. there was no reaction to that war from the west. >> putin bluntly told the president, war has started today. >> what was forgotten, ignored within months. >> the only question now, where will the russians go next? >> in 2014, russia struck again. >> violating the sovereignty of another country. that's something that adolf
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hitler. we thought those days were gone. >> unidentified soldiers. >> can we ask where you're from? >> russia's little green men. >> 30,000 troops -- >> had crossed the border secretly. >> they're known by their nic nickname, little green men. >> they were not ukrainian troops. >> peeten made bold-faced denials to western leaders, but soon he was celebrating russia's new land. [ speaking foreign language ] >> in a gala, having stoked the fires of nationalism, his approval rating, which had been sagging, shot up. >> putin had given them their
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pride back. >> it wouldn't be back to get along with russia, would it? >> he found a great admirer in america. >> donald trump wins the presidency. [ speaking foreign language ] >> we are the champions! >> prompting wild celebrations in russia. >> number one, nato is obsolete. >> putin now had a president who wanted america to withdraw from nato. an admirer of putin -- >> president putin denies having anything enter. >> president putin, he just said it's not russia. >> he believed him over his own intelligence agency. >> joe biden. >> putin's friend would end up losing the white house.
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>> people of the nation have spoken. >> his successor was firmly anti-russian. >> outside of kabul international airplane -- >> desperately trying to hold on. >> but he also presided over a fee as could in afghanistan. meanwhile, oil prices were once again going through the roof and europe was deepening it's addiction to russian energy. the moment felt right. for putin to take back the jewel in russia's imperial crown. >> execution chambers. >> calls for a war crimes trial. >> when putin became the butcher of ukraine. >> you denial truths about the
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brut brutality. >> the west had awakened. >> billions pouring into ukraine. >> europe began arming ukraine to the teeth. >> putin is getting the exact opposite of what he intended. he didn't think nato would respond. >> the biden administration rallied with western friends. >> a new iron curtain. >> and ukraine gave the world a new churchill. years of putin's efforts to divide the west -- were undone in a matter of days. but putin has not given up.
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[ speaking foreign language ] in late 2011, rebellion arrived in moscow. chants of "russia without putin" rang out. [ chanting ] >> tens of thousands gathered not far from the kremlin. russia's largest since the fall of the soviet union. >> all of us were very optimistic. we were absolutely sure that we are witnessing the last days for putin, months of president biden. putin had not feared being ousted by the west, but now he saw something even worse -- his own people trying to throw hem out.
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>> popular uprising. >> if anything, it's to stave off popular uprising. >> so putin turned the tables, blaming the protests on the united states of america. the strategy worked. in 2012, putin was reelected president in a landslide. it was a rare moment of strong emotion for the strong man. [ speaking foreign language ] back in control, putin looked to strike at the heart of the opposition, those behind the protests. >> he realized that he needs to do something that protests of 2011 and 2012 were turning point. a mand and woman walk across
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the moscow bridge, right next to the kremlin. inside the circle are the final moments of boris nemsov. he was a well-known opposition leader, and a key figure during the 2011 protests, but on this night -- >> breaking news coming in from russia, boris nemkov shot and killed in russia. >> the assassination was extremely professional. there were four or five people, a spotter, a guy driving the snowplow to block the camera. his girlfriend didn't realize he had been shot until after the car was driving off.
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>> death has come off during putin's points. dozens of his critics had met a similar fate. >> alexey navalny electrified crowds. >> he was the brightest stars of those protests. hi popular youtube videos exposed the regime's corruption. [ speaking foreign language ] in 2020, russia's only independent pollster asked who is the most inspiring person in the country. [ speaking foreign language ] president putin came in first. , but surprisingly navalny showed up second.
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august 2020, alexey navalny's crisis fills an airport. he tells a flight attendant, i'm going to die. he's been poisoned. his underwear laced with a cold war era poison. he spent five months recovering. >> is it your contention that vladimir putin must have been aware of this? >> putin laughed at the accusation. [ laughter ] >> who needs him, he says. but to putin navalny represents the threat of a popular uprising at home he was rattled -- in
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georgia, ukraine, kirk stan. three popular uprising. let by people he still saw's russian. all of it moved putin to form his own personal army. in 2016, he created a national guard, separate from the military, and under his administration's direct control. its commanding general, victor zolotov, once putin's personal body guard. it's now a massive force, with almost unlimited powers. it can arrest anyone, disup and down any group.
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, even fire on russians. >> tens of thousands of russians took to the streets. >> the biggest show of opposition to vladimir putin in years. >> national guard troops and riot police were used to stomp them out. [ speaking foreign language ] >> even with putin controlling what russians see in the news, his war in ukraine struck more unrest and more crackdowns. 15,000 were detained in the weeks after russia invaded, three times more than in all of
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2012. >> that proved that no protest would be tolerated in the future. >> he may have insulated himself from a popular uprising, but what about a rebellion among a select few, right in his own house? >> talk of a coup to overthrow vladimir putin. >> that's less of a fantasy, but still fantasy, because putin hands out money, hands out power. he controls everything. >> russian polices are dependent on putin 100%, so i guess he's pretty safe for now. >> putin now lives like a roman emperor. a massive mansion outside of
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2009. i was with a small group of editors who were granted an hour of time off the record with the russian president. he was almost an hour and a half late, which is very unusual in davos, because things usually run with swiss punctuality, but i real somewhere this was one of putin's power moves, to establish the difference. he's shortish, medium built, with fairly nonsdript features. he seemed to be annoyed, and began by mocking an editor. from the size of his ring, again, putin seemed to enjoy putting others in discomfort, at some kind of disadvantage. he came across as intelligent, extremely well briefed, and deeply aggrieved. he began a litany of complaints
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against the west. later in davos, when michael dell offered to build out russia's infrastructure, he snapped, saying russia was not a developing country and would build its own stuff. that was my impress in our sequence meeting, including one interview. is this a new putin we are seeing? i do not know, but he has not stayed the same over his extraordinary reign. in his first years, he courted the west, sduktively convincing president george bush he was a spiritual man, a speech he made in germany, but in the early days, he desperately needed help. they had big debts, the economic
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had crashed. then came almost a decade of high oil prices, and his petrol state was rich. and with that came greater confident, even expansion. putin began to do what he always wanted to do, retrieve the russian-speaking lands that were not a part of the solve why the union, but part of the old russia. perhaps what changed was not putin, but the circumstances. when he could, he was aggressive. this year had he acted again, because oil and gas prices were historically high. and europe in particular had become dependent. when he thought he ha power, we can see what he wanted, total control. when he couldn't get that, we
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see the viciousness with which he has waged war on ordinary ukrainians, even women and children. whatever the provocation, what leader would be that -- has he gone to isolate because of covid? 22 long years in office? some even wonder about a illness, but i would rather not. this is not an occasion for clinical analysis, but moral judgment. putin may not be sick, he may be evil, which is worse. i'm fareed zakaria. thank you for watching. ♪
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♪ hey, i'm brian stelter, live in new york, this is "reliable sources." this hour bob woodward and carl bernstein together for a rare joint interview, 50 years since watergate with new hearing about presidential misconduct about to begin, what can history tell us about what comes next? officials in texas taking outrageous measures to defy the press, deny access, and refuse to answer questions why all those children were murdered. later,


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