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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


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

Putin's administration.

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

Ksenia Sobchak.

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.


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-



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".


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.


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.