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Democrats Gain Ground in US Elections. Interview with Andrej Babis. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 8, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, one year since Donald Trump's election took the world by storm. A dramatic backlash at the ballot box
back home. While he's in Asia and a snafu derails his DMZ surprise for North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
Next, he meets another leader giving him headaches Vladimir Putin. We meet socialite and Russian reality star Ksenia Sobchak who plans to challenge
Putin for the presidency next year.
Also ahead he's dubbed the Czech Trump. Populist billionaire turned Prime Minister Andrej Babis joins us from Prague.
Good evening, everyone. And, welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. The worlds two most powerful leaders face to face
today in China on the anniversary of Donald Trump's surprise election. The United States president spent a red carpet day with President Xi Jinping
touring the Forbidden City and taking in the opera.
The two have a lot to discuss and nothing more urgent than North Korea who Trump today warned back in Seoul.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared
prosperity and our sacred liberty.
AMANPOUR: But, Trump's plan for a surprise drop in at the DMZ was foiled by heavy fog and bad weather. While nothing but bad news came in to him
from home. What's being called a Trump backlash saw voters in local elections turned out to put democrats in office.
With record low approval ratings, Trump's next stop in Asia will be Vietnam where he will meet none other than Vladimir Putin who's alleged meddling in
the election has dogged Trump all year.
Now, talking of elections, President Putin himself is expected to run for yet another term next March. One woman hoping to unseat him is widely
referred to as the Paris Hilton of Russia. She's Ksenia Sobchak. Now, a member of the opposition, she's been a socialite, a reality TV star, a
model and a talk show host. And her father was once mentor to Putin bringing him into politics from the KGB back in Saint Petersburg.
Many in Russia assume that Sobchak is a token Kremlin approved opposition candidate running to spice up and legitimize an election that President
Putin seems very likely to win. So, what is her platform? Let us ask. Ksenia Sobchak who joins me now from Moscow. Mrs. Sobcheck, welcome to the
program. Is it fair to say that you are the Kremlin approved candidate? That you're just there to give President Putin a different face to run
KSENIA SOBCHAK, SOCIALITE: It's a lie and as you said when introducing me it's not a lot of people thinking like this. It's just some people who do
not like me to take part in those elections. They make this kind of rumors go. So, I don't think it's quite relevant to say that many people think
that because many people support me.
And, moreover, you mentioned Paris Hilton, please let me know because I don't when her house was raided, when her money were taking by police as it
was made in my case --
SOBCHAK: . some years ago.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you that -
SOBCHAK: When she was put in prison for her political position.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you that. You raise a legitimate point. In Russia, in Moscow, having, you know, the police look into your affairs,
having been arrested, is a right of passage for opposition politicians? Do you believe that that is what part of what gives you some weight, some
SOBCHAK: No, I think what gives me legitimacy is my fight against the regime for that last six years. I was amongst those people of Russia who
came out to protest. I was amongst those journalists who made a lot of work on independent Russian TV to show the reality of Putin's regime and of
So I was one of the opinion makers who we making huge journalistic reportages interviews and other kinds of work that helped to reveal the
cases that now are well known and want Russian people connected to corruption, connected to the Putin regime and what's going on in Russia.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: OK, let me dig into this.
SOBCHAK: So, this is how I.
AMANPOUR: Sorry, I understand you're trying to get your point across. I just - obviously you're facing all sorts of public questions. The person
who brought you into the political world and that was as you mentioned the protest in 2011, (INAUDIBLE) and you spoke very eloquently at the protest
He's now saying that Putin sees no glory in defeating the usual run of puppet buffoons. That's why the Kremlin seeks fresh faces each time. The
fresh face this time will be Miss Sobchak. So I know that you don't like that but I guess part of it is to ask you, do you have any real chance of
going against Putin?
SOBCHAK: Well, first of all, thank you for the compliment about the fresh face because I really think than Russia needs a young face and new
generation to be seen on the political stage. But answering your question, I think I can really make people go and vote against the system, voting for
So this is my idea, my idea to unit all of the democratic forces, which all the people with whom I worked and whom I supported all those years.
Including Navalny, including Yavlinsky and other democratic leaders. My idea is to make a huge democratic coalition that people go and legitimately
vote against the system, against Putin.
Therefore, we will see the results that I hope will be quite big and that will be a change to the whole political system because you thing, if they
see there is a couple of percents and another thing, if they see that millions of people voted against Putin in this democratic opposition way.
AMANPOUR: So, you mention Alexei Navalny, who is drawing lots of people at rallies but who looks like he will be prevented from running for all sorts
of technical reasons that you know better than anybody. He had said that it is fairly loathsome Kremlin game that goes by the title of let's but a
liberal laughing stock up for the election in order to distract attention.
I mean, this is a lot of criticism you're facing and you have said that you would withdraw your candidacy if Navalny is allowed to run. You know, I
feel awful beating up on you but how are you going to take this?
SOBCHAK: First of all, this saying by Navalny was done before I went to challenge Putin on those elections. Now when he knows the concept and he
knows that I officially said that I will withdraw my candidacy if he will be allowed tog o, I think this will change the whole game. But, we should
have a back up option.
I spoke with Navalny and I hope he will agree with me that if he won't be allowed to go to the elections, which I think, he should be allowed and I
will be really fighting for this. But is not, what is our second option. Just stay at home and don't go to the election, it's not an option. This
will show nothing to Kremlin, this will change nothing.
But we do remember how elections for example in Pinochet's case change the citation because as many people go out and vote out against, these can
really bring change to our country which we really need.
AMANPOUR: I think nobody would dispute that and you obviously are very passionate and you obviously have a lot of attraction to young people since
you're very well know. Obviously, I need to ask you, I said your father was Putin's mentor.
You were seen at the side of Putin recently and people say that you asked him for his approval to run and certainly the Kremlin has not opposed you.
What do you say to that?
SOBCHAK: Well, I don't want to commend to lies. I don't need anyone's approval for going to elections. It's my decision and it was made by me.
Being a journalist for many years. The last year I did a big documentary and I'm still in the process of finishing it. A big documentary about my
father, about first democratic leaders of Russia. And during those documentary, I interviewed many politicians that worked with my father
including Mr. Putin so this was the only meeting we had and on this meeting I found it's appropriate to say face to face that I will challenge Putin on
this election, but I don't need any admittance or I don't need to ask about this.
AMANPOUR: So so what did he say?
SOBCHACK: I don't need to ask about this. This is my decision. Not anybody else's.
AMANPOUR: What did he say? Go for it KSENIA, good luck? What did he say when he said I'm going challenge you?
SOBCHACK: No. No. He didn't really like it I think because he said, well it's a decision of any person who makes it but it's also a big burden that
you should be responsible for in this case.
AMANPOUR: And what would--
SOBCHACK: --That was his answer but I think it's always good to say face to face if you have a chance.
AMANPOUR: And and very quickly lastly, what would your platform be? There terrible relations between Moscow and United States right now. All the
allegations of Moscow interfering in the democatra process in the west and, you know, these sanctions over Ukraine Primer. What is a platform that you
are going run on?
SOBCHACK: All ready and said it and wants make it known to American public, first of all, I think that Russia's responsible for those awful
international relations that were created. We incented the international law and the Primer is Ukrainian but international law. This is very
important which I want to stress and this is my position. But also I want to say to America that please divide that Putin is not Russia. Russia is
bigger and many people do not support his policy. And one thing when you punish some Oligarchs that are connected with Putin with sanctions and
everything and this is a right thing to do. I support those sanctions but another thing that for example now fugitives in Russian can not get an
American Visa and this is not fair to them. Because why Russian people should be punished for the politics of the person whom they don't support
and who doesn't let us make fair elections.
AMANPOUR: All right.
SOBCHAK: So this is a very important thing I wanted to stress.
AMANPOUR: KSENIA SOBCHACK, we will be watching. Thank you for joining us tonight. And life as a reporter in Russia is no walk in the park either,
for (ph) critics it can be deadly. The spike in violence against journalist in the country most recently the stabbing against a radio
reporter who narrowly survived the attack has lead the enter of the most prominent opposition news paper to say that he's planning to arm his staff
with non lethal weapons. And CNN's FRED PLEITGEN caught up with that story in Moscow:
FRED PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The aftermath of yet another attack on a Russian journalist. This CCT footage shows radio
host Tityana Felgenhauer just seconds after this man stormed into the studio and stabbed her in the neck. The victims boss Aleksei Venediktov,
the head of Echo Radio, which released the video blames Russian authorities for failing to stop violence against reporters and fueling hatred of
independent and critical media.
ALEKSEI VENEDIKTOV, CHIEF EDITOR, ECHO RADIO: The state media journalist get killed in military zones and journalist working for media that is not
controlled by Kremlin die in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Nova (ph). They are being attacked and injured and the authorities in my opinion enable
this by not investigating these cases.
PLEITGEN: In this case the suspect Forest Gris came to Russia from Israel. He has not yet entered a plea. Russian authorities say that he is mentally
unstable, leaving the Kremlins to brush off any notion of government sanctioned hostility towards journalist.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What does freedom of speech have to do with this? A sick person arrived from Israel and attacked this journalist. Echo Moscow is
blundered by the government, nothing like that even exist in the world.
Echo radio is owned by Russia's state oil dive gas (ph) but is known for broadcast critical of the government. There is a troubled history against
journalist is Russia. Many harassed and some even killed. The most prominent was investigative reporter Ana Politkovskaya who was gunned down
in the lobby of her apartment building in 2006. She worked for this publication Novaya Gazeta which holds its meeting under the picture of six
of its reporters who were killed doing their jobs. Now their Chief Editor Dmitry Muratov is saying enough is enough, and wants to arm his reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY MURATOV(through translator): I know that my statement caused a lot of controversy. Some people thought it's a metaphor, but it is not a
metaphor. As the government cannot protect journalists and we lost six people to murders. We made a decision to provide them with means of self-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he hopes Russian authorities would feel pressured by his announcement and pledged to better protect journalists.
Instead two Russian gun makers offered the paper a discount on easy to use weapons. Novaya Gazeta's management says "Despite the risks, they won't
compromise their journalism".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY MURATOV (through translator): We participate in global investigations. We fight corruption, and our journalists go to warzones.
We achieve a lot because when civil society is given open and truthful information it starts to demand certain measures from the authorities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tatyana Felgenhauer showed her will to carry on two weeks after getting stabbed she was back on the air, against the will of
her doctors, and her boss. Refusing to be silenced hoping she won't be attacked for doing her job again, CNN Moscow.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Praise eighty(ph) indeed and still to come on tonight's program, the man dubbed the Trump of the Czech Republic.
I speak to billionaire businessman and Prime Minister Designate Andrej Babis. Is he a populous or a fragmented? Find out next.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the program, now Britain breaks the tears, promised a bigger and better global Britain. Here today
three of it's most important global affairs ministers are in deep trouble, but in the past few minutes the British Aid Minister Priti Patel has become
the second of treason made cabinet ministers to resign. Well as we said earlier in the program U.S. Democrats have eked(ph) out major victories in
an important state, as an anniversary gift of sorts to President Trump.
In Europe the recent check collections handed victory to the party of the popular businessman Andrej Babis. What does he make of these set backs in
the U.K. and The United States? Let's ask him, because Andrej Babis joins me live for an exclusive interview from Prague. Welcome to the program
Prime Minister Designate. Can I start asking you what you make of these resignations and this hullabaloo(ph) in the breaks to tears in Britain and
treason made cabinets?
ANDREJ BABIS, PRIME MINISTER DESIGNATE: Good evening, thank you for adding me to your program. So I think breaks is really negative for European
Union and for Europe. So I think Europe should think why it happened finally, and it will happen against the same types. So we have to think
about reform Europe, and in Europe we have two biggest issues now, and it's illegal immigration and the terrorists.
And we have to solve these problems first and then we can think about eventual, bigger integration of member states.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: So you are pro-EU. I don't think you're anti-E.U., but you have been called a populist and people have likened you
because of your business background to President Trump. What do you make of that comparison and what do you make of his populist policies seeming to
backfire with these election results overnight from the U.S.?
BABIS: No, I'm not populist; I'm a quite pragmatic guy. I have in common with President Trump that we are both businessmen and we married Czech
woman and probably that's all. I have been United States in 2015 and I met Mike Bloomberg and it would be maybe better for me to be compared with him,
so look, I build a big company. Sorry?
AMANPOUR: Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. Do you say that, but you also have an anti-immigrant stance which Michael Bloomberg doesn't have. And so
really the question is, what is your policy and why has -- why do you think the Czech Republic has voted for somebody like you when you didn't have
that many immigrants, you have a good economy, people haven't had to flee like they have from other East European countries to further west.
BABIS: I'm sorry but I criticize the illegal immigration and look at the history of the United States. Let's speak about Ellis Island, let's speak
about the Green Cards. So I mean we sort of the same immigration models like you have in United States or Canada or in Australia.
So it is not possible that we have the lowest unemployment rate in Czech Republic and our companies are waiting one to two years for some works from
Ukraine and on the other side we have thousands of immigrants -- illegal immigrants coming from South Italy or from Africa to South Italy without
any I.D., any passport and this is really a result of the smugglers which are promising better life to these people which expect a better life and
this is the reason why they are coming.
So, we have to solve the immigration outside Euro, we have to solve it in Syria, in Libya and in the countries where these people were born and we
should help them there and they should stay in their homes because it's not possible to have the Europe -- the on continent which is really receiving
people, thousands of immigrants, illegal immigrants that are illegal.
AMANPOUR: All right. Your country has been a shining beacon of post Soviet style democracy. People are concerned that now the Czech Republic
might align itself with Hungary and Poland to form a sort of illiberal block and they're worried about your threat to abolish the lower house of
parliament. What can you say to us tonight to convince Europe to convince your people that you are committed to liberal democracy of the Czech
BABIS: Look, I create this movement and we have the same strategy in the United States, you have no labels and this movement is similar to us but
they are not active in politics so they say, what is our strategy in politics can make sense in problem solving.
So, I'm pragmatic and we succeed already in four elections and I was minister of finals in the Czech government and we had the second best
public finances in Europe. I decreased the debt. I get lot of taxes, so I was collecting EUR10 billion taxes more.
So we were quite successful and we are one of the more successful countries concerning the debt and the budget in Europe. So I say, Europe is a
fantastic project. We have peace, but we have really to fight for the safety of Europe and we have really fight for the four freedoms.
So free circulation of people and goods and services and capital. So I'm pro-Europe then but we have to solve this problem and we are always waiting
for something. So, I heard that Henry Kissinger in the history asked, I would like to call Europe.
So, who should call I? So now we are waiting for the coalition in Germany and also (icing) that Czech Republic is small country but we can really
propose some reform in Europe--
AMANPOUR: Okay Mr. Babish.
BABIS: -- while sending immigration and the (inaudible).
AMANPOUR: Fine. We appreciate that. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Andrej Babis, Prime Minister Designate of the Czech Republic.
And when we come back, we image a world where fashion meets the future. British Vogue's first black male editor takes over and diversity is front
and center. That is next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where diversity is in vogue, British Vogue that is, it's hugely anticipated December cover
invokes nostalgic glamour, but it marks a leap forward for the magazine because the new editor is man and not only that, he's a black man, which is
two firsts in Vogue. The Ghana-born, Edward Enninful took the helm in June. British Vogue has been slammed in the past for its all-white
masthead by the super model, Naomi Campbell and now staff are trying to give the magazine a facelift and bring it into the current era of
celebrating diversity and smart girl power.
The new cover girl model, Adwoa Aboah's resume boosts feminist activism and founding a young woman's mental health initiative called "Gurls Talk". By
the way, British ethnic minorities make up half the rest of the names on the cover. It's a great start now let's see if Vogue can keep up with our
times. That is it for our program tonight, thanks for watching and good- bye from London.