tv Amy Knight Orders to Kill CSPAN December 30, 2017 4:40pm-5:30pm EST
political acumen of franklin delano roosevelt, and before tatum discusses race relations in america. that's just a handful of the programmed airing this three-day weekn on booktv on c-span. for a complete schedule verse booktv.org. >> again, i'm jonah zimiles, the owner of the book story. i hope you enjoyed the video. one thing we do is bring authors to the store but also want to mention the second part -- i mentioned my wife, el help and i have two children, our younger child has autism and we opened the book store as place to have a vocational training program for young people with autism and we have had 90 with
young people with autism work in the store since we opened it in 2009. that's one of our main things we do here. then again in the video, we bring in grate authors and very excited to have amy knight here for a host of reasons. first, we believe that this is the first time that we have had a mother-daughter author team. we were privileged to have mollie knight here a few years ago with her book and we're super pleased to have her mom here with us for "orders to kill." your fifth book -- >> sixth. >> and it tells the story about what is going on currently in moscow. amy is one of the leading experts on the kgb, now the fsb
and writes for the "the new yorker." the book details some of the plot biz -- plots by putin killing leaders, and it's really a spellbinding tale, and we're thrilled to off offer -- to present amy knight you. thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you for coming eye. going to start off kind of traditionally and just tell you a little bit about myself and i would i got involved in writing this book. i majored in russian studies at the university of michigan in the '60s. a very new field but the cold war had started and so michigan was really putting their all into this program, and i was able to learn the language and
the history and the politics and so on and so forth. then i traveled, actually -- i mentioned this in the introduction to my book -- i traveled to what was then the soviet union with in professors and students in the summer of '67, and we almost didn't go because there was a real crisis in the middle east, and relations were not good with the soviets, but we went, and of course the young students didn't heed what we were told by the professors, to be very, very careful, and i went off with some of the girls, we were in kiev, and we started meeting these dissidents. we were in somebody's apartment, we ended up -- the kgb came and knocked on the door, and i spent the night being interrogated by myself, by the kgb.
it all ended happily because it turns out they were more interested in what my father did and what wind of a car we had and they were really happy to get my marlboro cigarettes. so i was released the next morning, just in time to get my plane out of the soviet union, but i never -- i was always kind of fascinated with what these people are really like, having met them face-to-face. so, then i went on and dish worked at radio liberty in munich for two years as an editor translator, and then i went ahead and got my masters and ph.d at the london school of economics, and at the lse i got my ph.d in russian politics and that included history and politics, because the view is -- was that really to understand what was happening at the time you had to know the
history. so i call myself actually more a historian than a political scientist, but i'm sort of both. anyway, then ended up moving to washington with my husband, and i worked for almost 20 years at the library of congress as a soviet russian affairs analyst, and that's when i started writing a book hi first book came out in 1988 about the kgb and i got this niche of writing about the security services, and i wrote then some other books, including a biography of stalin's police chief, a book called "who killed kirov: the klemm kremlin's greatest mystery" about the murder of kirov in 1934. i had a couple of other books as
well. and now we get to this book. i actually have been writing and noticing for a long time these political murders, and in fact i was thinking today that it's been almost 20 years since galina, the -- i talk about in the second chapter of my book. she was a deputy to the parliament and she was gunned down brutally in st. petersburg, and at the time i wrote a piece for the "washington post," and i said, they will probably never find who killed her, and sadly i was actually right. mr. putin had just then become the head of the fsb, which is the kgb successor, and it looked very much to me, when i did some more research interest it, that
at the very least the fsb had given a wink and a nod to go ahead and get rid of her. one thing she did was she advocated -- a real democrat and she advocated that people who had worked for the kgb and the communist party would not be allowed to serve in the yeltsin -- anywhere in the yeltsin government. of course this wasn't very popular. and she also was quite outspoken about all the corruption going on in st. petersburg, and st. petersburg is putin's home up to. so i think it's pretty clear, you can read my chapter and see what you think about my theory that the fsb and mr. putin were involved in her murder. now, i talk about other
political murders, and i also talk in two chapters about acts of terrorism. so, when i say political murder, i use it badly to include terrorism, because that's been another feature of the russian regime under putin. i talk about the terrorist bombings that happened in russia in september 1999, killing almost -- in four different apartment buildings, killing almost 300 people. i think that was -- this wasn't what i said but other people -- and i agree -- for russians their version of 9/11 because it was just such a terrible shock, and a lot of research after that has shown that the fsb actually was involved in these bombings. it's president complicated
story. mr. putin had just been made prime minister by yeltsin in 1999. just been -- he had been head of the fsb. and he -- nobody really knew who he was. yeltsin and his supporters, the family around yeltsin, wanted mr. putin to be a successor to yeltsin bus he had worked for the fsb, and they were concerned about what would happen to yeltsin and his family and his allies after yeltsin stepped down. so, i think most people agree that mr. putin sort of promised that nothing would happen to them. and in order to sort of give him some name recognition, yeltsin nominated him as prime minister and then these bombings occurred. well, the chechens were blamed. already had been one wore in
chechneya and this was an excuse to launch another war in chechneya ask this really brought a huge amount of fame and adoration towards vladimir putin because he was seen as worry that would get to the bottom of this and as he said, he was going wipe down those chechens in their outhouses or some other phrase. so i don't have time to go into all the evidence and it isn't my evidence particularly that has been gathered, but other people, including western scholars and investigative -- russian investigative journalists that pretty conclusive dilemmon straight, i don't think there's much doubt anymore that it was the fsb and mr. putin who were actually the ones who were behind the bombings.
well, then in my book i go on to discuss some of the individual cases of journalists and russian opposition politics who were murdered after putin came to power. i talk about paul, who some of you may have heard of. he was an american of russian descent who was in moscow as the editor of forbes russia. he was gunned down in 2003 -- 2004 -- excuse me -- and then there was sergei, who was a real democrat and was very outspoken critic of putin. he was shot to death in april of 2003. there were numerous other examples of journalists and pot
politicians who were viewed as a threat by the kremlin who died these tragic deaths. now, one of them, probably heard of her, anna, she was a brilliant crusading journalist. she made 50 trips to chef -- chechneya during the second chechen war, very courageous and she worked for a journalist for an independent newspaper, and she was extremely outspoken and critical of mr. putin. she knew that she was courting danger. several people really advised her to leave the country, and she just kept saying, i'm not leaving, i'm staying here.
her -- her car was about to give birth to their granddaughter. she was shot down in the stairwell of her apartment building in 2006. in october of 2006. and they've never -- even though they rounded up the people who actually shot her, they never found the person who organized the murder. so, this is another taste of an enemy of mr. putin who gets killed and no one finds out who actually gave the orders. now, i have two chapters in my book about alexander, who you probably heard of. he was a detector from russia. he worked for the fsb or the kgb first and then the fsb, and in -- he was still living in russia and in 1998 he was asked
to assassinate an oligarch named boris. instead of carrying out the assassination and following the offered the fsb, his employers, he held a press conference with some of his cool -- kole legals and announced they had been asked to do this. well, as you might well understand, this did not make him very popular. he was put in prison twice, and finally he knew that he was risking his life staying in russia so he deeffected to london with his family, with if wife and his son. marina, i've become friend with and the book is -- my book is actually dedicated to alexander's widow. she has been very helpful with mitchell have two chapters about the case. i'll fast forward and say i went
over to london several times when they had the hearings in the high court in london, into the -- it was an inquiry into the murder and n2015, so i went over there -- in 2016 -- and attended the hearings and did some interview. so i'll just give you a little quick background and why -- what happened. it seems as though these two men were hired by the fsb to murder alexander, and they -- one of them made friend with alexander and started coming to london, and was trying to get consulting work alexander and apparently he didn't -- alexander didn't have any concern or lukovoy was
actually employed by the fsb. so in the meantime alexander devoted himself to writing scathing criticisms of vladimir putin. boris, the oligarch i mentioned earlier, had moved to london and the two of them just had this campaign, and it was financed by sarasovski because he was very wealthy and they publicized everything they could about the corruption and the authoritarianism and everything else about putin's regime. so, alexander was not very well-liked, and in november of 2006, alexander and another gentleman came to london and brought with the polonium 210,
lethal radio active substance and we now know they tried to poison him with polonium two weeks earlier and didn't work. he got sick but nothing happened. well, this time in the pine bar of the millennium hotel in london, they put polonium 210 in this tea pot and alexander came in and sat down with them and he drank the tea. he got very ill, at first they thought it was food poisoning. took him three weeks to die, and it was only on the last day, november 23rd, that they actually figured out what was the cause of his death. it was not supposed to be discovered. that's why polonium was chosen. the two killers fled and the british government has tried to have them extradited but that
hasn't happened. and in fact one of them got a medal of honor from president putin and is now a member -- has been for several years -- a member of parliament. so, that is just -- i think the interesting thing is that he was viewed as a traitor because he had worked for the fsb and then moved, defected and wrote all these thing. so oddly enough i think lot of the russians know that he was killed by these two gentlemen and that they were ordered by the fsb and mr. putin to do it, but people kind of feel like he got what he deserved. then i have other examples that i can't go into detail about right now. i would say that really probably one of the most devastating killings was that of boris, in
february of 2015. if you'll recall, he was walking with his girlfriend across a bridge very close the kremlin and people went bi' somebody got out of a car and just shot him, i think five or six times. anyway, it's very interesting that the killers -- they arrested almost immediately the killers of boris, but again, it's the same pattern. they don't find the -- what we say in russia, and in fact the family has now requested the russian government to extend the period of the statute of limitations because they have nod found the person who ordered
this. well, many people think it was, again, something that was ordered by vladimir putin. nensov was not only a handsome, charismatic, really brilliant politician, he also -- he used to work, by the way -- used do be a minister in yeltsin's government and knew putin personally, but he had started writing these devastating reports about the corruption, the massive corruption in mr. put's regime, and right before he died, he was finishing up -- when i say report, it's a -- they're kind of longer -- almost like little books. he was writing about the russians ukraine and showing that they -- the russian military was in full force in eastern earthquake.
more officials on the the sanctions list. he was the wife and almost died. so this is how dangerous it is if you were to go up against the kremlin. thousand i also somebody -- asked me if they thought that there's been any example of somebody being murdered by the russians on u.s. soil. we know it happened in the u.k. i would have said no. but interestingly enough oligarchy died in washington, d.c. hotel in november 2015, and he had been head of the media and there was some discussion about the fact that he had gotten some enemies in -- within the government, the
kremlin. in any case he also wases a very heavy drinker. so they found him dead in this hotel room in washington, and the initial cause of death was that he had fallen an had an accident. but recently, apparently and this is just rumor that moms sources from the fbi have started saying that, in fact, they realized that it was not a, you know, an accident and they're still now looking into it. i don't know, i don't know what the results of that are going to be. i didn't get a chance -- because of time, i should also say that one of the people who has been involved with some of these murders is the president of really a terrible, terrible a
dictator -- and the human rights violations that he's committed are just absolutely appalling, and in the case of particularly saw it looks like some of were higher to can kill nemsaw but kremlin doesn't seem to be able to control this man. they rely on him to keep chechna from exploding with any demand and he's carried out quite a few murders just on his own initiative. but i just wanted to mention because i do talk about kader often in my book. now, somebody has said, has asked me who i think would be mr. putin's next victim.
well it's a horrible thing to even think about. but i should point out that about a month ago, very well known journalist named hulia who -- wrote for echo radio echo and the and mr. putin and she had to flee russia because her car was set on fire, and earlier she had had death threats, and she -- just basically was terrified oh, and i should add they funneled somebody funneled poisonous embays intoer her house and that was the final straw and she fled russia and is now living abroad so that's how bad it had gotten. now the one person who i write about -- quite a bit now -- when i write for if the press,
is -- for the new york review of books, is alexander nablni a very courageous ain't corruption crusader and he is -- has declared himself a candidate for the presidency in march they're having elections in march 2018. now, he is technically barred from the ballot because he has two felony charges against him. the charges are stepped from bogus cases. the kremlin has arrested him and, in fact, he's in jail right now. they pretty much done everything they can except kill him to keep him from his campaigns. but he is -- is really incredible. i've seen his speeches you know he has them on his website. and also, he gives speeches he's
gone all over the country, and he also has produced a series of documentaries that are just incredibly damning to the putin regime. just showing their terrible corruption, and he uses drones to fly over their and mansions and he does ma research that proves that all of these -- kremlin figures are -- hugely vastly qeat. and, of course, then when he goes be out and he's on this stump he reminds people of this. so he's gaining quite a following which is why i think he was put in jail two weeks ago. and i think it is a matter of concern -- if he gets out what is going to happen to hum but because
somebody was saying they wouldn't be so stupid as to kill -- that would be going too far . but then somebody else said well you know, it could be someone who does it to please mr. putin or -- who knows. i hope very much that this doesn't happen. but i thought i should bring that up. well, just quickly before i sop, i'll mention that so here in the west, there hasn't been very much reaction to all of these political murders. except in the case when the british government was forced to have this inquiry that it took seven years for them to actually do this. they -- it seem it is that western government or -- for reasons diplomatic reasons do not want to confront the kremlin with these cases. when you think about it, it's
understandable because russia has a huge nuclear arsenal. they're very important global players. we've got problems in syria, we've got problems in ukraine. problems with with north korea so i think there's just a general reluctance to face up to the fact that when you're dealing with mr. putin, you're dealing with somebody who is a murderer. you probably are familiar with what donald trump has said about this he's being asked on one more occasion about -- the killings that putin has ordered. and a he has said, quote, him once he said -- there's no proof. there's no proof that he's done it. and then another time i think it was after vladimir was poisoned he said well everybody -- everybody killed. so i -- people have asked me why donald trump is bending over backwards
it seems to gain favor with the kremlin. i concern i could go out on a limb and say that i sometimes wonder whether -- these allegations of collusion between russian and the trump campaign if they are true. then it would mean that the kremlin has what we call compromising material on donald trump. and this is -- might be one explanation as to why he literally will not criticize mr. putin. and also why he's done things like his -- trying to weaken the nato alliance. we know that when he went over and met with all of these nato leaders he was very lukewarm and it was quite disheartening to other nato members, so i can't -- i can't begin to really understand what mr. trump's motivation iseses are.
but -- why ysh why is it important that we know about all of these murder hads first of all i think it is important that government know who they're dealing with . that's one thing fen if there were more acknowledgement and at least at lower levels more -- or more said about what to the kremlin it would certainly be a good thing for the families of the victims of these crimes and also for the human rights groups and the independent journalist that are still -- critical of mr. putin. it just might make mr. putin think twice before he does this again. i also think that -- the the economic sanctions that are in place right now about that extremely effective and i think they should be strengthened and i think there should be no discussion about lessening these sanctions because if they really do, they
really do -- hit the kremlin and reminding them that -- they shouldn't go too far. so my main point to go away is basically that -- leaders who stay in pow by violent and intimidation are not strong rulers. so no matter what the opinions poll say about mr. putin his ratings are now about 86%. i think that this this is a very thin support. and underneath there is discontent caused by a stagnating economy, and a stagnating infrastructure combined with all of the corruption that most people know about is happening at the top. i think that this is a dangerous combination for mr. putin. and as we know last spring there was some pretty serious street
demonstrations and several cities. now there were demonstrations again last weekend and a the the turnout these were in protest against navalmi being denied being told that he can't be on the presidential ballot unfortunately the turnout was disappointing in the different cities. but i think it was largely because mavalni wasn't there and people were also nervous because the authorities have been arresting lots of demonstrators putting them in prison giving them hefty fines. so there's a lot of intimidation. but i -- i would just say -- i don't expect navli to get on the ballot i just don't think that's possible. i expect that mr. putin -- will -- win the election as president. unless something changes drastically. but as somebody said one
commentator said which i was interesting it is going to keengt if you see it this motorcade the day after the presidential election with putin, you're also going to probably see what we saw in 2012 with the presidential election. very, very massive protest. and so it's some point i don't know when, and i don't know how. i think we are going to point to see some change in russia. but it could take a long time. [applause] thanks so much so we -- [applause] thanks. we'll take questions from are the audience and i'll bring around microphone if miff you have the question.
with the gentleman who was killed in dupont circle i understand that the coroner was silenced and the police can did indicate that the van had had massive had been beaten very battery, and had massive injury and the explanations that this happened because he fell down when he was drunk is ludicrous. have you heard that as well. >> oh, yeah i've heard it i'm just i'm cautious because initially they -- the u.s. police the fbi said that it was a clear cut case of an accident. and given that mr. lessen was known to be a very, very heavy drinker it wasn't beyond, it was a credible argument. but as i said -- i've seen quite a few reports now that the fbi is saying that they think there was pol play. i don't know what's going to happen with what.
you hi is putin's -- sure. what do you think is putin's end game and needs yum game towards it? there's the a lot of talk about him wanting to disrupt a lot of things capitalism or western civilization but is it truly to bring back the soviet union who -- or he said once anyone who wants to soviet union back is has no brain but anyone who doesn't miss it has no heart. but does he really want to bring it back or does he want another form from there? >> i don't think mr. putin wants to have russian military rush into the baltic or take over ukraine. i think the -- sort of end game of the kremlin
is to -- is to undermine democracies in this country and to undermine their economic situations. and that's pretty much enough. i mean they want influence but they don't want actual jurisdiction. you know, so i know you are probably referring to mr. putin saying very early on that the the biggest tragedy that ever happened was the collapse of the soviet union but i don't think -- russia, you know, wants to take over any of these countries. but there's certainly, i mean, we talk about what has been had -- what happened here during our presidential elections and the huge propaganda that efforts they meads on facebook and twitter, and then you know with hacking of the democratic national committee, they also do that kind of thing in -- in european countries. and in the baltics. i was in years ago i can't
remember the exact time. but their entire internet had been taken down, and they found out that the russians had done it. so what's a new form, by the way of aggression is cyberwarfare and it's something that, russians are very, very good at. >> hi, you said that you're a historian and i -- i would be interested many knowing about other oligarchy and how they were taken down. what is the most prevalent form of taking those kind of leaders down and history? [laughter] is that too broad a question? >> well if you're talking about russian history, the --
the monarchy was brought down by basically world war i, and a very, or very leader and growing discon tengt among pose ant classes that's how they managed to take over. had to die before we got a look at him and 1991 people are beginning to draw some parallels with what had is happening now. what really brought down this soviet union was -- the government in moscow was widespread economic discontent and that, you know, look at their pocketbooks it is same for russians as it is for most people when they really feel like they're, you know, thingses that the government is, you know, screwing them, then that's when they take to the streets.
>> this is kind of a related question. i'm just -- really curious about what you think about why the population like there's that sort of massive 86% approval rating and, i mean, russians are smart. do they know about these murder as many as why are they so compliant or why isn't there more, you know, rebellion and upset you know disruption? >> well, what's that's a really good question, and it's been explained in different ways. some people say that -- that and we've got a russian one russian or more in the audience. some people say that russian people are kind of habitually,
they venerate their leaders in other words if you have somebody who is your leader you kind of like have to -- say that he's good and he's there, and it's kind of -- they don't have a tradition of saying horrible things. i'm not talking about the independent journalist and so forth but just the average pern so i think there's a little bit of when they do these opinion polls also people say when they had think they should say. you know, but -- i'm probably not the person to -- to really answer this too well because i haven't been too moscow i've been to russia but not to moscow since 2008. but my feeling is that a lot of people are just kind of a political. and they compartmentalize hair thinking. they can't really get -- accept now with mr. navalni and he's gaining a following among the young people.
but the -- you know the older generation is just i think passive and you know so used to being fed well i should also mention -- the television is still controlled by the state. so russians are fed a constant stream of nationalistic proputin propaganda. now, that is changing a little bit. or quite a bit because the younger generation gets their news from the internet. and this is why we're seeing these turn -- this turnout of young people who seen the videos showing prime minister medvedev vineyard and mansion and in italy all of this. younger people are, you know, increasingly the audience is shifting to the internght and so -- that might change in terms of the putin popularity.
if i could have a comment from europe but posted in st. petersburg but i think commenting on 86% that's nationally about as a much lower in moscow and st. petersburg where people still have access to internet. that is underthreat by the way but i've seen about 50%, and you have to understand that russians all agree that you need a very strong is lead for russian always known that and nobody can control such a big country and biggest in the world without a strong leader but there's a difference between foreign policy whether there's still a dream of being the world's biggest country they still are but they could be still much bigger and they have a claim -- to really a lot of intlek friends believe that ukraine and could really belong to russia.
so one thing is foreign policy, another thing is domestic policy. and because sanction in places -- the state the standard of living has gone down dramatically, and there's been cuts all over social, health, education, culture the only sector that's increased is military and a lot of people in the big cities know that. but in the country, they don't have access to internght, internet and that is underthreat facebook is with dispute because russia wants to have the registration and that means all of the members. and vp end which gives access for foreigners in russian through russian television is discussed to be closed down this autumn so that is a threat to -- from publication from abroad.
>> well i just read i think it was a commentary of independent radio station, someone said that had the viewer -- the average viewership for brainya main nightly news program in russia is now about 5 million, and the average age of the viewers is 65 a. the 25 million people viewed navani youtube documentary about president medvedev so i don't know you know i'm just quoting what i read. i don't know how o accurate that is but it is kind of interesting because again, it's the -- kremlin would have good reason to believe that about the internght because it's become, you know, a huge -- form of communication.
i have a -- question before we wrap up. it seems like they went smoothly in the fsd is that a fair statement that they really wasn't that much to perform or throwing out the bad guys. okay sorry guys. that i said it seems that there's been a really smooth transition from to fsb to that correct that they didn't really clean house -- and if so, i wanted to contrast that with the criticism that u.s. took for cleaning house with republican guards in iraq and i was wondering if you can't comment on the lessons that could be learned from the two approach. sorry what did you mean about iraq? >> well many iraq we -- there was a big movement to get rid of the republican guard a and to clean house and u.s. has
had a lot of criticism by removing the top level of infrastructure and sounds like in russia with the on o sit approach iewm not sure way each works. certainly it's really -- interesting the number of people who work and often with putin in the grad kjb now st. petersburg if you look at the top position in the kremlin and many their investigative and judiciary, and the regular police begin their careers in the k imrks b and that's the other thing a phenomenon might have gone into business or taken over key -- other key positions many the government. but a lot of them original started in the security services. it's an all boy network.
will be signing books i wanted to tell all of you or out there we're proud to be presenting professor william who read a book on november 21st so i hope you'll come back and join us, and i want to give a -- and nice, thank you. [applause] and -- amy will be signing books upstairs thank you all for coming. >> didn't you say if anybody wants another little bit of wine or cheese back there -- [applause] wine and cheese then with a book sign. thank you. here's a look at some of the current best selling nontixes
books according to "new york times." topping the list is best selling biographer walter recount of the life of lee mard doe da vinci followed by former white house photographer behind scenes look at barack obama's presidency. next on the list is policer prize winning on the life of president grant fourth on the list is vice president joe biden's promise me dad, in which he recalls how he balanced professional duties tending to ailing son plol bid fox news host brian kilmeade history had of the war of 1812 battle of morals. new orleans our look at the best selling nonfiction books according to "new york times" continues. with a biography of bobby kennedy by msnbc host chris matthew. after that is physics for people in a hurry by neil degrasse tyson and trump cory lew down ski and