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Penetrating the Kremlin's Thinking; Syrian Journalist: People Inside Aleppo "Totally Numb"; House Divided over Election. Aired 11-11:30p ET

Aired November 1, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:13] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight Britain's MI-5 says Russia is an increasingly aggressive threat to the U.K., and the government

here pours billions in to combat it.

Crucial insight into what drives Putin from author Mikhail Zygar, who has interviewed all of the Kremlin's men.

Also ahead, is Russia now preparing for a final assault on Aleppo? Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah, who fields a team of local journalists say the

horror of daily life there has tipped people into the abyss.


RAMI JARRAH, SYRIAN JOURNALIST: The people inside are totally numb. They don't see what is happening around them anymore in the way that anyone who

is outside this war zone would understand it. These things are horrific. That this is unacceptable. Some people have become used to it.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

A stark, rare warning about Russia from Britain's top intelligence chief. In the first-ever newspaper interview by a serving MI-5 Director Andrew

Parker says that Russia is, quote, "Using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad, involving propaganda,

espionage, subversion and cyberattacks."

Moscow quickly struck back with a tweet from its embassy here in London. "Saddened to see a professional trapped to his own propaganda created

world." Alongside a poster for this famous 1960s comedy. It says, if you can read it there, "The Russians are coming."

But for Britain, this is no laughing matter. Today, the chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced the details of a $2 billion plan to

fight the threat of cyberattacks.


PHILIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: If we do not have the ability to respond in cyber space to an attack which takes down our power networks

leaving us in darkness or hits our air traffic control system, grounding our planes, we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the

other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences or resorting to a military response.


AMANPOUR: Penetrating the Kremlin's thinking is notoriously difficult, but journalist Mikhail Zygar has done just that with his new book, "All the

Kremlin's Men," and I spoke to him about it just a short while ago.


AMANPOUR: Mikhail, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: It's good to see you again. We should say for our audience that I first met you at a Committee to Protect Journalism Award, where you were

given an award for your commitment to independent reporting in Russia and that I have endorsed that commitment on your new book.

ZYGAR: Thank you for that.

AMANPOUR: So it is called "All the Kremlin's Men" for all the good that will do you. But let me ask you first the question of the day, the news

question of the day.

The head of Britain's internal security MI-5, Andrew Parker, has given his first ever interview in which he says your country, Russia, is using all of

its ability, propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyberattacks to push its agenda abroad and that Russia is increasingly defining itself by opposition

to the west and seems to be acting accordingly.

Is that what you see from the inside?

ZYGAR: No, that's not news for us because according to Russian propaganda the war, the war of words, information war and kind of cyberwar was going

on for many years. And for at least last years, President Putin is trying to recollect the respect, but sometimes they mix respect and fear.

So he wants to be respected and he wants to be treated as equal partner and as a leader of a super power. He thinks that he was distrusted and

misunderstood by his western partners during the first two terms of his presidency. He was disappointed with his relationships with George W. Bush

and Tony Blair.

Now he wants another generation of westerners to come and, yes, he wants to frighten them. And all those techniques like hackers, like cyberattacks

have been used domestically against Russian opposition, against independent journalists for many years. So that's not news for us.

[23:05:00] AMANPOUR: So, Mikhail, in your book "All the Kremlin's Men" where you've really taken a look at all of the people who make Putin as

much as Putin himself, you've also come across his Arab/Syria policy.

And you say in your book, quote, "Putin had never taken the Arab world seriously. But given that he views every event as a U.S.-led rehearsal to

remove him from power, Assad was now his bastard. That's what you write.

And you're referring to a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt who was talking about a Nicaraguan dictator when he said, he was a bastard but our bastard.

ZYGAR: Exactly. According to all of my sources I've been interviewing for more than seven years, Putin really doesn't care much about the situation

in Syria itself.

For him that was an instrument to stop talking about Ukraine. He felt isolated -- he felt a lot blank and that would cost (INAUDIBLE) in 2014

after Ukrainian crisis and after international sanctions against Russia. And during his U.N. speech, where he proposed international coalition

against Islamic State and also called -- compared it to Hitler coalition and proposed new Yalta Conference.

That was an attempt to stop talking about Ukraine, to address the global issues and to have a seat at that board of directors of the world. That's

what he wants. And he had that by taking part in the Syrian crisis.

AMANPOUR: And he has a lot of people who you talk about. Give me just a flavor of who the Kremlin's men are and what effect they have on Putin.

ZYGAR: You know, actually the main character of the book is the army of Russian bureaucrats. That's not the little tiny political bureau that

surrounds him, although it exists. But that's more about all those Russian civil, state servants.

They are united more than by loyalty and by the willingness to guess what the boss is thinking about, what boss wants, and they are trying to

implement his wishes even before he asks them to do something.

AMANPOUR: Give me one example.

ZYGAR: One and two years ago, Putin was absent for a couple of months. He was ill, but no one noticed that he wasn't in the Kremlin and he wasn't

giving interviews and signing his decrees because the machine kept working.

No one even noticed that no one was ruling the country. The machine keeps working and probably it can work even without him because everyone knows

what they are -- what he is supposed to do.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you then, you've been talking to all of the kremlin's men. Is there any truth to reports and evidence that President Putin wants

to see a change and would prefer to see a Donald Trump?

What do the Kremlin people tell you about who he would prefer to see or who they would prefer to see as the next U.S. president?

ZYGAR: Absolutely. Donald Trump is used to them psychologically. I doubt that there are some real ties between him and President Putin or some

people in Kremlin, but he's exactly that type of guy Putin likes to deal with. He was OK with Silvio Berlusconi, because he's not -- he was not

pretending that he was sane. He was not lecturing Putin about morals or --

AMANPOUR: Ukraine or Crimea or Syria or human rights.

ZYGAR: Yes, yes. And that's exactly the same type as Donald Trump. He likes that, that cynical politicians with business background, and I think

that's why he expects that it could -- it could be easier to get along with him.

AMANPOUR: So much to talk about. Mikhail Zygar, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

ZYGAR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And you heard Mikhail say that Syria mattered not a bit to President Putin, but certainly Syria has felt the destructive power of

Russian might.

And, next, my interview with a man who has seen the destruction of Aleppo with his own eyes and who works tirelessly, tirelessly to bring the truth

to our eyes. He's the Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah. We will have him after a break.

But, first, a moment of life and hope because as Iraqi troops push through to Mosul, our producer there, Ayu Raudhah (ph), shot this with his

cellphone as more land is liberated, more people are reunited like this lieutenant with the Iraqi special forces who unexpectedly ran into the

family he hasn't seen since they were separated by ISIS rule.


[23:12:03] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now for every horror story that emerges from Syria, there is a man, a woman or a child who suffers. Only we don't often get to see the daily reality

of those lives, of the childhoods that have been robbed.

Few foreign journalists can get there. And so it takes people like the British-Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah and the team from the media agency

that he co-founded to bring us stories like Jihad, the little boy from Idlib whose days are divided between trying to get to school and hiding

from air strikes.




AMANPOUR: It's a simple story that brings the basic humanity of the pressures of daily life. And Jihad is lucky because just last week, a

Syrian or Russian air strike killed 20 children when it hit that school there in Idlib.

Western intelligence now says that Russia could be within days of a full- scale military assault on Aleppo.

I spoke to journalist Rami Jarrah about the state of the people there now.


AMANPOUR: Rami Jarrah, welcome to the program.

JARRAH: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: We read in these huge headlines that the Russians are preparing a massive bombardment of Aleppo to seize advantage while the U.S. and

others are concerned with the election, et cetera.

What are you hearing from your reporters on the ground in besieged Eastern Aleppo?

JARRAH: What we are hearing now is that there is a ceasefire of some sort where air raids are not being carried out. This is what the Russian

government is portraying, but this is not true.

The attacks have continued by the Syrian regime and by the Russians continuously on a daily basis. And this has been acknowledged even by the

Syrian regime through its own state media, that the Syrian regime continues its attacks on these areas.

AMANPOUR: Can I play you something because you just described what the Russians and Syrians say, that they say they're only targeting terrorists.

Channel 4 has been in Damascus. There's a big sort of trip planned with a U.K. parliamentary delegation and quite a few journalists have managed to

get in as well. And Channel 4 doorstep the Syrian foreign minister about what was going on in Aleppo.

Listen to what he said and then we'll talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: People have seen many images from East Aleppo that appear to show hospitals having been hit, schools having been hit and

civilian casualties in horrifying numbers.

What is your view of these videos? You say these are all made up?

WALID AL-MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You are from TV and you know how to make them up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: So you do think they're all false?

AL-MOALLEM: Yes, because we never shelled civilian. We are aiming only on the --


AMANPOUR: So, Rami, I see you smiling ruefully.

How do you cope with the fact that the Russians and the Syrians simply tell the world that they are not shelling civilians as you just heard?

JARRAH: Christiane, I'm laughing but I'm disgusted because this is -- I mean this is the sort of thing that Syrians have gone through for years.

We're not talking about these five years of war in Syria. We are talking about 50 years of dictatorship, where the government can say whatever it


We have a saying in Arabic which would translate to lie, lie, lie again and then eventually someone is going to believe you. And that is the tactic,

the strategy of the Syrian regime, that no civilians are being targeted. It is ridiculous to claim such.

We have half a million civilians that have been killed in Syria throughout the conflict. The majority of those civilians, the vast majority were

killed through use of air strikes. We are talking about use of indiscriminate weapons such as napalm, phosphorus, chlorine, barrel bombs.

This man is a liar. This man, his whole government are used to the art of deception.

The only difference between their government and the Nazi regime is that these people have learned the art of deception. And the fact that they are

able to deceive the whole world into believing in some way or another that they have some legitimacy only makes them legitimate as opposed to the

likes of Adolf Hitler. There is no difference.

If we look at the numbers, if we look at the tactics, if we look at the weapons that are being used, if we look at the themes of torture that have

been used, over 5,500 victims who have been documented in pictures one by one, 12,000 pictures that were presented by Caesar, who is code named, and

presented in a number of countries now and in a U.S. court of law, this is all proof that this regime has carried out mass murder against its own

people, anyone that opposes it.

And what we're looking at now is people, we see the international community gradually step closer to shaking hands with the root cause of this whole


AMANPOUR: We just saw that heartbreaking story, but so instructive of the little boy who tries to go to school and hides from all these bombs in

caves at night.

How can you tell the story in pictures and people's voices that you're so passionately revealing right now?

JARRAH: It's, honestly, an almost impossible task. And the reason for that is the fact that if you point your camera at anyone in besieged Aleppo

today, they will say to you, what do we gain from being filmed other than being exposed, other than the regime knowing who we are and one day maybe

Assad's troops come pulsing into this area, and they know who we are, and they'll punish us.

It is almost impossible to get people to talk, and this is why we have so little footage that comes out of Syria, where there are actually human

stories, where there are actually people speaking because they have no faith in the media.

The other problem that we face is our own reporters, and the fact that they have been in this situation for such a long time. I have tried to be in

that situation for two and a half months maximum. And when I did reach that stage, I will be honest, I reached a point where I couldn't identify

the things that were horrific. I can't -- I didn't even notice that there were things that were happening around me that were important or

significant, or that an international audience or an Arab audience or anyone should actually see.

AMANPOUR: You mean because you got numb to it, Rami?

JARRAH: The people inside are totally numb. They don't see what is happening around them anymore in the way that anyone who is outside this

war zone would understand it. These things are horrific. But this is unacceptable.

Some people have become used to it in a sense where they just feel, you know what? This is our lives. There are children who are 14 years old,

who are now 19 years old. You cannot convince them otherwise. This is all that they've seen as they've gone into adulthood.

[23:20:14] If you look at the amount of oppression that has been used, and all of the evidence that is there to show for that, I don't see how we

would expect that people would remain in their straight minds.

Right now, the offensive that has been launched by the rebels against the Syrian regime to break that siege of Aleppo and free 300,000 people, it is

being led by groups that are considered radical groups. It is being led by people that are considered a bit fundamental.

And what I would ask is in 9/11, when there were attacks on the two buildings, that horrific attack that killed 3,000 people, I remember

explicitly George Bush going into Congress and actually praying. And this is what is happening in Syria, but this is happening on a daily basis.

Every day people are praying that God is going to save them because they have no faith in the international community. And I do not blame

radicalism on Islam. I blame radicalism on an absence of justice in Syria.

People are now reacting to what is happening by saying that, you know, we will defend ourselves. It doesn't matter if we're going to kill civilians.

Are our children not worth anything? Why do we not solve the root problem in Syria before we demand that there is a solution to our repercussions and

the way that we react to defend ourselves? This is the problem.

AMANPOUR: Well, Rami Jarrah, we really appreciate you being here and giving us that really impassioned and important perspective from the

ground. Thank you.

JARRAH: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, to the United States where we imagine a conversation happening at dinner tables all over the country, breaking

bread with the family at breaking point because of this election. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, with one week to go before people go to the polls in the United States, we imagine a house divided.

This house in Long Island, New York, trouble is brewing in the kitchen and at the dinner table where political debate is pushing the parents apart and

plaguing the children.

And guess who is coming to dinner to figure out why? It is our Paula Newton.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine you're standing on the sidewalk --

CHERYL BROWN, TEACHER AND CLINTON SUPPORTER: As a woman that was absolutely appalling.


NEWTON: Outside this all-American home and you listen in.

R. BROWN: The society that we live in, now we can --

C. BROWN: But Trump is going to think things are rigged, you know.

R. BROWN: Again, noise.

[23:25:00] NEWTON (on-camera): What was that? I mean everything inside looks so blissful. Rob and Cheryl Brown, a firefighter and a teacher with

their three kids, Sarah, Robby and Thomas, prepping for dinner.

And then it starts.

C. BROWN: We know what we're going to get with Hillary. Donald's erratic -- erraticness and the way that he presents himself is not what I believe

that the United States deserves in terms of a president at all.

NEWTON: You keep looking at him. It doesn't bother you the way he acts?

R. BROWN: For me --


C. BROWN: We get into -- we get into very heated debates.

R. BROWN: This election is, I think, polarized us more than any other time.

C. BROWN: Definitely.

R. BROWN: And we're both union, you know, middle class jobs, and this election really has divided the house in that regard.

C. BROWN: This is really -- this is a big election.

R. BROWN: Yes.

C. BROWN: And we're definitely divided.

NEWTON: Rob and Cheryl are reasoned, thoughtful voters, who still have love in their hearts, but now there's rage on their tongues, too.

C. BROWN: And it's been proven time and time again that he does not seem to have any respect for women, and that concerns me.

R. BROWN: I don't see him as an evil person. I see him as someone that's willing to shake the tree a little bit, and I think our country needs that

a little bit right now.


NEWTON: This election is already shaking the family foundation like never before and in most cases the fault line is obvious.

R. BROWN: There's a few divided households, and I think many times it is down the gender line.

C. BROWN: I have relatives who are not, you know, are not speaking, you know, and that's really sad.

NEWTON: They're not speaking because of the political situation?

C. BROWN: Yes, it's sad.

NEWTON (voice-over): Most agree with the children here, the sooner this election is over, the better.

(on-camera): You ever say to your parents, I just don't want you guys to talk about politics anymore. Do you ever say that?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes, all the time.

NEWTON: But will the symptoms of this, let's call it pre-traumatic stress mercifully disappear with the election?

C. BROWN: It's going to be a long night in this house.

R. BROWN: It's going to be a long night. I will be sleeping on the couch if Donald Trump wins.

C. BROWN: He will definitely be sleeping on the couch.

NEWTON: Don't you think that's a bit unfair.

R. BROWN: Just for a year.

NEWTON: At least they did still joke.

C. BROWN: For four years.


NEWTON: She is joking, right?

Paula Newton, CNN, Long Island, New York.


AMANPOUR: Four years.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.