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Interviews with Konstantin Kosachev and Phillip Pullman. Aired 1- 1:3p ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 13:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMAPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a rare interview with the top Russian senator who warns of major damage in Moscow, Washington relations.

Also ahead, after losing most of their territory, will there be blowback by Isis.

Arwa Damon's special report from Syria with a captured Isis fighter. Plus, our interview with the mega author Philip Pullman, back with "The Book of

Dust" nearly two decades after his landmark fantasy trilogy is "Dark Material."

Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amapour in London. Communication between the Russian and American governments,

even on terrorism and security, has practically ground to a halt. A dangerous state of affairs says the Chair of the Russian Senate Foreign

Relations Committee in a rare interview tonight.

The ominous warning comes as the man who'd like President Putin's job, Alexei Navalny, was released over the weekend from his latest stint in

prison for trying to mount a political challenge to President Putin.

Navalny immediately took to the streets to hold a rally of his supporters, although the Kremlin says, prison makes him ineligible to run for

president. And with President Trump pulling the United States out of trade agreements, climate accords and possibly even the nuclear agreement with

Iran, Vladimir Putin remains as powerful as ever, at home and abroad. As Senator Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Russian set of Foreign Affairs

Committee told me when I reached him in Moscow.

Mr. Kosachev, welcome from Moscow.


AMAPOUR: Can I start by asking you some of the breaking news that Alexei Navalny, who is a well known thorn in the side of President Putin, has

released but how much of a threat is he to President Putin and his party and his agenda?

KOSACHEV: I do not believe that any other politician in modern Russia would be a real threat to President Putin for the simple reason Mr. Putin

is really popular in Russia. He doesn't really support of more than 80 percent of Russian voters and these 80 percent are definitely not faked up.

And whoever contests him, unfortunately these or that person will not have enough time to change the situation because Mr. Putin does find real proper

answers to the concerns which are really actual for the citizens of Russia. That's it.

AMAPOUR: I mean, basically, you're describing a leader who really does have a lock on the political system and that there isn't that much

opposition that has been allowed to flourish.

You did mention his popularity and a lot of that is based on Mr. Putin standing up to the West, standing up to the United States. He certainly

did that again in his latest speech. Let me just play what he said and we can talk about it.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Main mistake from our side in relations with the West is that we trusted you too much. And

your mistake is that you interpreted this trust as a weakness. We should move forward with our relations being based on mutual respect and treating

each other as equal partners with equal rights.


AMAPOUR: Is that the basis for a lot of Mr. Putin's policies which look very much like trying to do anything that goes against the West, whether

it's in Syria, even in North Korea.

KOSACHEV: Listen, this definitely wrong description. Firstly, about the reasons why Mr. Putin is so much popular in Russia, it's not about a

country versus the West in the first hand.

Yes, he did assist to the restoration of national dignity in Russia which was heavily damaged during the '80s and '90s when the Soviet Union

collapsed and secondly when the first reforms in modern Russia did not go the right way during the '90s.

And this is not the major reason, I believe the major reason is that Mr. Putin brought back stability, economic and social stability to Russia

speaking about our relations with the West, we cannot be dependent on mistakes which are being done by the Unites States and by the West, because

it does damage our own national interest.

So it's not about proposing anybody or any country just in terms of flowing your national flag again, this is about not agreeing with the wrong policy

which does not solve any problems or almost does not any programs but does provoke additional programs to the modern world.

AMAPOUR: Do you think, for instance, that what President Trump has done in terms of refusing to recertify the Iran deal, a deal that Russia as well

signed up to, is that damaging to the international community?

KOSACHEV: Well, uh back to Saint Saravanta (ph) agreements should be supported and kept. And this is the major principle, the international law

and this situation cannot be dependent on who is the president of the United States of America.

You (ph) have made a multilateral deal on Iran and this deal I believe was one of very few successes they have reached. So, the consequences will be

disastrous and I believe that not just Russia but any other participant in these deal, Germany, United Kingdom, France, China, they're all against the

decision of the Untied States to draw back from this agreement.

This is a complete disaster and I cannot understand how the congress of the United States in this situation are somehow supports the intentions of Mr.


AMANPOUR: President Putin though in his speech was very careful not to criticize President Trump directly. This is what he said and then we'll

talk about it.


VLADIMAR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): Mr. Trump has been elected by the American people and at least because of this he should be

respected, even if we disagree with his positions.


AMANPOUR: So Mr. Kosachev, it's the big mystery bromance in the world. Nobody can quite figure out why these two leaders ah speak the way they do

about each other. You were in the room at the UNGA during President Trump's speech.

What did you make of that speech in general? What he said about Iran. What he said about North Korea. What he said about Russia.

KOSACHEV: Well, you know, the first thing, I believe that the statement by Mr. Putin which you now sighted is not about Mr. Trump personally. It's

about respecting the serenity of the Untied States of America because we understand perfectly well that normal bilateral cooperation between Russia

and the United States of America is of crucial importance for global security.

Otherwise coming back to the speech of Mr. Trump in the United Nations, you know for me it was somehow an impression that they have two not just one

president but two presidents of the United States. One of them pronounced the first part of that speech and that was a very good one. He sounded

like a profit expressing very clever ideas about not interfering in other countries domestic affairs. But the second part of this speech was not of

the profit but of a judge.

AMANPOUR: How does your government, how does the Russian communicate with the administration? Is it, is it formal like it would have been in

previous administrations? Do you feel like when you need something, when you need clarity, you get it from the White House or the State Department?

KOSACHEV: No, it does not definitely work the same way. It was about stopping the work of the bilateral working committee or presidential

committee, which was established by Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin previously.

And we have 27 working group for absolutely different issues in our bilateral relations trained in the economy, science, culture, human rights,

whichever. So, as for now we do not have this commission and we do not have any other channels of communications

because I believe that Mr. Larof (ph) and Mr. Tillerson would meet each other sometime and then they have kind of a communication between deputy

Repcauf (ph) and deputy Ashanon (ph) in the state department and in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Russia but that's all.

It's a kind of a one way window. We have to go through that window in order to reach other American governmental bodies agencies whatsoever. It

does not function and the worst, yes, we have certain cooperation (ph) between the ministers of defense in Syria, but it's just about Syria

nothing more.

And we not have any cooperation on counter terrorism. We do not have any cooperation on other issues of global security and I believe this is an

absolutely wrong approach. But this approach was initiated by the United States of America. Last but not least, we do not have any inter

parliamentary contacts.

AMANPOUR: Well, it sounds like a very, very bad state of affairs. Maybe even a dangers state of afraid because as you know also President Putin

said in that speech that he would respond immediately and symmetrically if the United States were to quite the INF, the Intermediate rage Nuclear

Forces treaty. That sort of conjures up a vision of yet another arms race.

KOSACHEV: Please make accent on the very (ph) response. This is what Russia is forced to do each time America takes any unilateral step and yes

we will respond - it will have to respond on - their unfriendly and undemocratic actions against Russian mass media in the United States like

RT and Sputnik.

Yes, we will have to respond to the same way in case the United States of America will continue to break out of their important disarmament agreement

such like INF and others.

AMANPOUR: Konstantin Kosachev, thank you so much for joining us from Moscow today.

KOSACHEV: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now in the critical issue of Syria, Russia has accused the U.S. lead coalition of wiping out Raqqa comparing the destruction to Desden.

Meantime with Isis now defeated in Raqqa, it's nominal capital, intelligence agencies are divided over it's future.

Analysts say that so many were killed there and in most that they don't expect an influx back into Europe. Others say the group is keeping it's

powder dry to fight another day. Our Arwa Damon spoke with two midlevel Isis members detained by the U.S. back coalition that liberated Raqqa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isis's survival is not tie to the fate of its crumbling caliphate. it planned for this day. Isis did calculate that one

day they will be finished, that Behrmanean man says, his voice calm and steady. His name is Omar (ph). He says he was in charge of ideological

training that Isis military camp in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa.

None knows exactly how much Isis is worth now, in 2014, the group was thought to have a total of $1.5 billion to $2 billion. It was making a

million dollars a day from oil fields, more than enough for its regular expenses. Isam (ph) is an Isis member from Morocco who oversaw the boarder

crossings between Turkey and Isis territory.

He tells us that Isis would train and dispatch members to set up companies which then acted as facilitators but also behaved as regular businesses.

Isis may no longer physically control swale of Syria and Iraq and it is widely assumed that the Isis leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his top

lieutenants are in the boarder areas between Syria and Iraq, familiar territory.

The first stage of the Isis insurgency back in 2010 was called aggressive hibernation. Making money, building networks in the desserts and cities of

Iraq. It's an ideology that exploits and feeds off of deep seeded grievances, fosters a thirst for revenge.

They will spring up somewhere else Omar says, if you don't know how to fight them ideologically. Isis plots for the long game, it's leaders are

fond of saying it's not ruling Mosul and Roqqa that counts. It's the will to fight and Isis will once again buy it's time. Arwa Damon, CNN, Northern


AMANPOUR: When we come back, we find ourselves transported to very different but dark world thanks to the epic imagination of Phillip Pullman,

the author of "A Northern Lights", continues the dark materials with a new tail. Turning the page on his fantasy saga next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. It has been 17 years, but for loyal fans, the moment is finally here. This week Philip Pullman released

Volume 1 of his new trilogy, The Book of Dust, his long awaited follow up to the highly acclaimed series is dark material.

Now, they might be categorized as children's books, but Pullman's ambitions are anything but childish. He tackles subjects as ambitious as

consciousness, mortality and of course, his old foe, the church. His latest book has once again set in his beloved home town of Oxford where he

joined me from the famous Bodleian Library. Philip Pullman, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So this is now 17 years since your last major work. What -- what made you do the new book? Why now?

PULLMAN: Well it's been quite a long time in the writing. I began writing this one 10 or so years ago. And it's taken me quite a long time to get

this far with it. When I finished His Dark Materials, with the book called the The Amber Spyglass.

I had a sense that that wasn't the last I was going to know about Lyra, the heroin (ph). I felt that she was going to have some more adventures, but I

didn't know what they were or where they would take her. This -- this book sets in place the beginning of a story which is going to come into full

fruition, 20 years later.

AMANPOUR: But also, I mentioned the church which in your you called the magesterium (ph). You once said I'm religious, I'm an atheist. Aren't

those two in conflict? What did you mean by that?

PULLMAN: I think what I meant by saying that was that the questions that religion asks, questions such as why are we here? Why is the world -- why

does the world exist at all? What must we do to be good? Why do we feel not at ease in the world not -- as if we don't belong here. What's the

origin of those questions? Those questions are part of being a human being.

The answers that churches have given traditionally are not answers that I can believe in or accept. And so like many people I have -- I sort of live

outside the church. So I'm -- I have -- I'm a sort of cultural Christian. That phase is quite a helpful one. A cultural Christian, but not a -- not

a believing one.

AMANPOUR: Your philosophy in this regard caused some controversy in America at least. What specifically do you think caused the controversy

(ph) and do you expect that again?

PULLMAN: The problem with organized religion as I see it is not that it is religion, not that believes in a God, not that it -- not that side of it.

The belief is not the problem. The belief -- the problem comes when it acquires political power. If people in the name religion wield power over

other people, you must behave like this, you must not believe that, you must not say those things, you must dress the way I tell you to, that's

when it goes wrong.

AMANPOUR: You spoke just earlier about adolescence, about puberty, about your audience and about your characters. And it's very, very important to

you that, right? You talked sort of about a bit of an epiphany when you were going through that period yourself.

PULLMAN: The period of adolescence is a very important one in the lives of all of us. Because a part from the changing thing we feel in our body, new

hormones, new feelings, new fears and desires and hopes and all that sort of thing, we're beginning to acquire intellectual curiosity as well.

And interest in the things around us. The way the world is run. These big questions of life and death and meaning and importance and so on come into

our consciousness for the first time, it's a thrilling time, it's a frightening time. It's a very exciting time and a very meaningful time in

the lives of all of us really. And that is the period I remember very vividly from my own adolescence. And it's the period I've been writing

about in this book. And in His Dark Materials.

AMANPOUR: And you must be aware of the whole debate over safe spaces and what students should be exposed to. And you know, don't offend me, the

kind of philosophy that's sort of gallivanting across academia, what is your view on that controversy?

PULLMAN: I don't think we have the right not to be offended. We don't have the right to live in a -- in safe space. The world is not a safe

space, a safe space apart from anything else is not an pace. If you're never challenged, if your ideas are never challenged and argued with, how

are you develop your ideas?

A safe space to me sounds like somewhere shut away from the free air and the winds of excited and understanding and curiosity. I wouldn't want to

live in a safe space, I would want to live argument can flourish. And different ideas can swept through and bring the fresh air of life with

them. That is a much more interesting place, than a safe space.

Which seems to me, a place where you would eventually die of not being about to breath.

AMANPOUR: Do you recognize also this kind of yearning and nostalgia for empire or for the past. You know, right now here in England there is a

very successful film called "Goodbye Christopher Robin?" It's about Winnie the Pooh, you know about the life of the author A. A. Milne and his son.

What do you make of that kind writing for children and that kind of nostalgia, today?

PULLMAN: It's a very strong stream in children's literature, English children literature, British children's literature. This nostalgia for

childhood, I don't think it is the children feel. Children don't feel they want to be children, children want to be grown-up, they want to be doing

big things, important things out there in the world.

It's is a feeling that was felt by people such as a Kenneth Grahame who wrote 'The Wind in the Willows.' How the writers of that so called Golden

Age of children's literature, express this feeling which seems to me, so sickly and unhealthy. It's not something I share at all, I would rather

see children grow up, than see them remain as children.

There is something wrong with the idea of Peter Pan; there is something wrong with idea of a little boy and his teddy bear playing at edge of the

forest, forever and ever and ever and ever. No, no, no away with that, let's go on.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, is there is something wrong with the age and era of smart phones? Do you think as a writer, who lives, you know in the

print word and on paper, do you feel your craft is under threat?

PULLMAN: The is a very good question and very shrewdly asked. Yes, well I have chosen to write books set in a universe where that smart phone has

not been invented. If you are in any danger, you just call up help and away it comes with a smart phone. It's very hard to make a story work of

the sorta story I like to write, in the era of the smart phone.

So I would rather do away with it, but then in my children's literature you have to do away with the parents before the children can have an adventure.

So doing away with things is (inaudible) part of writing children's literature.

AMANPOUR: And I would like to ask you just one last, rather poignant question You were a teacher once yourself and you have come to the rescue

of a certain, you know very, very sad and tragic group of people, who were killed in the Grenfell fire, which was last June here.

Tell me about motivated you, what moved you to weigh-in on behalf on this young girl?

PULLMAN: I was shocked, like everyone in the country, who saw that terrible fire, that extraordinary night full of fire and destruction and

death. And when the chance arose to do something, a little thing, to raise some money on behalf Grenfell victims.

I thought that I must join in; I must do what I can do to help. So, they auctioned the rights to naming a character in the book I was writing now.

And I am very pleased to find it was.the auction was won by someone who would like me to name a character Nur Huda el-Wahabi. Who is one of the

girls, who very tragically died in that fire.

I am very happy to do that. Nur Huda will have a second part in 'The Book of Dust,' which I am writing now.

AMANPOUR: It is really a remarkable gift for all her family; she will live on forever in the covers of your book.

PULLMAN: I hope her relatives and friends like the character I am writing about her; of course it won't be the real one, whom I never knew. But I

hope they feel that I did justice to her name.

AMANPOUR: Philip Pullman, thank you so much for joining us.

PULLMAN: It has been a pleasure, thank you.

AMANPOUR: A lovely tribute and when we come back, we imagine a world where the pen conquers the fear. A journalist is attacked in her Moscow office

and mean time in Malta, people come together to call for justice for their own lost reporter. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight earlier in the program we spoke with a senior Russian senator about President Putin's soaring popularity at home.

Well today there was another attack on an independent Russian journalist. Imagine Tatiana Felgengauer frighten someone so much that she was stabbed

in the neck inside her office.

She's the deputy editor of Echo Moscow radio. She's one of a handful of independent press members in Russia. The agency, she is reportedly in

serious, but not critical condition. And it's not jut Russia; a week ago today more (tees) investigative journalist Daphne Galizia was killed by a

car bomb.

The murder of this one woman anti corruption fight squad has galvanized people across Malta's political landscape. On Sunday, thousands marched

through the streets calling for justice to be done. While Malta's national newspaper's united in mourning and defies all bold black covers and the

headline The Pen Conquers Fear. Both in English and in Maltese.

Responding to protests, reporters without borders is calling for a special U.N. representative for the safety of journalists. Imagine a world where

we need one. We don't have to imagine that. That is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always listen to our podcasts online at and follow me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.