tv Book Discussion on The Brothers CSPAN May 10, 2015 4:48pm-6:01pm EDT
tonight with andrew burstein and "democracy's muse." [applause] >> is there a nonfiction author or book that you would like to see featured on booktv? send an e-mail, that is a tweet i booktv, or post on our wall at booktv.com. coming up next on booktv, russian-american journalist masha gessen discusses her writings on russian society and politics, as well as a recent book on the boston marathon bombings. >> masha gessen is a russian-american journalist and author whose most recent book is "the brothers: the road to an american tragedy." which tells the story of the brothers tamerlan tsarnaev and dzhokhar tsarnaev. dzhokhar tsarnaev was convicted of all charges, 30 charges
against him in the trials. she is also the author of other books, including words break cement. masha gessen has written extensively on the rights of lgbt and help to found legislation against the fight to ban gay propaganda. and she has set herself for many years that she was probably the only publicly gay person out in the whole of russia. here tonight in conversation is peter finn the national security correspondent. please welcome peter finn and masha gessen. [applause] [applause]
>> thank you, thank you. [applause] [applause] >> good evening. it is wonderful to be in san francisco. i am especially happy to be here with masha gessen, a gifted and fearless journalist whose work i have admired for a long time. >> thank you peter. >> we have recently had the opportunity to work together when she blogged for "the washington post." let's jump right in. you know, russia has experienced a lot of trauma and turmoil since the fall of the soviet union. and you have witnessed most of it. but as you look at russia now and the war in the ukraine the assassination of wars and an opposition that looks like it has been completely marginalized
in the current situation and the opportunity if any for change. >> very much so. and you have gone through the whole list. and i think it's even worse than you have described. it's not just the war in the ukraine. it is russia or seeing itself as a country at war with the west. and so he worked at escalate. i also think that the next stage is going to be a crackdown on what prisoners are increasingly referring to as [inaudible] and what is also called the national traitors. so there is going to be a major political crackdown that will make the last two years of political crackdown seem like a dress for her soul. i think that we will see a lot of this and possibly a lot more
physical attacks like the assassinations. >> you wrote in "the new york times" that the scariest thing about the murder of boris nemtsov is that he himself did not scare anyone. and if he was politically harmless, why was he killed a map. >> he was killed as a message. and i think that a couple of things about his murder, he was killed in plane view of the kremlin on a bridge, it crosses the moscow river directly across from the kremlin. and if you take out a zoom camera on that bridge, you will have the police on you within a matter of seconds. i was once in a group of cyclists that were going under the bridge and the presidential guard ran out to intercept us because it was an unusual occurrence to see us go under the bridge. we see on the surveillance tapes that there is a body lying on the bridge for least 10 minutes and nobody came to look at what happened. >> what does that say?
>> one other thing that i want to say before i say what it says. that it was also like other people who opposed to vladimir putin. and i try not to use the word opposition and i can explain in a moment. but like other people that are actively opposed to putin come he was under constant surveillance and especially that day because he had organized a march. so this is a murder that very clearly to place in plane view of the kremlin and the presidential guard and the russian secret police. at the very least it was a crime that was allowed to happen and that most of was one that was carried out. and what it communicates is something that is also related to an occurrence in moscow a week earlier, which was the so-called anti-[inaudible] march. this is the latest of the kremlin organized circular popular movements. and this one was explicitly
intended to prevent the ukrainian like revolution in russia as though russia had any chance of a revolution. and a lot of the people people who marched actually carried placards with a portrait of boris nemtsov, identifying him as an organizer of the ukrainian revolution. so the message of that march was that the kremlin is forming and unleashing an entire military force, a band of thugs. for the explicit purpose of attacking people who are opposed to vladimir putin. >> is that organized by the kremlin? and do you see them as directly complicit in the murder. >> yes, i do a. >> you believe that they directly organize it? >> i do not think that is necessary. there is a clear chain of
command that is not necessary an environment like that were the most important messages are messages -- what kind of violence can be carried out with impunity, what kind of violence will be interpreted as being done in the name of the regime and to help the regime. >> who are these people? do you have any sense? are they part of the state apparatus? are they part of -- are the people that support putin to . >> they are certainly people that support putin they are his thugs basically. >> we are people that know they have free reign. >> exactly. and they will join whatever entity will allow them to have free reign and engage in violence with impunity. >> you know, if you listen to people in the kremlin and some in-state media, they argue that that they are in an information war with the west. and that we are all swimming in a sea of lies.
their lives my life, your life that there is no difference between "the new york times" and russia today. do you see that that is how -- that that is what is directing russian state media policy? >> i think that that is actually -- it goes deeper than that and it is an interesting question because i think that that is one of the few things that they say really and truly express their worldview. and i think that the people who work for the russian media really believe that we are all liars, that the world is constructed this way and everything is bought and sold, everyone is bought and sold, no one ever holds these convictions, everything is for a purpose were set in the name of the highest that her. and they are thoroughly convinced that this is not just the way that they conduct their lives, but the way that the
entire world works and that they interpret any messages coming from the outside is the expression of that same event. >> is that top to bottom? or is that just leadership in a is everyone that cynical? >> i think so yes. and that's really what we have inherited from the totalitarian society it weren't for 70 years we lived in a country that where ever you were meant lack of democracy. >> rushing in to a russian median organization, many were born after the fall of the soviet union. >> they were not just accompanied by a dissembling of their propaganda, but russia actually made a series of choices in the early 1990s to avoid reckoning with the past and russia never removes soviet
monuments from tv they never prosecuted the communist party and that's an interesting story that they assembled to the tune of 80 volumes in and and then placed it under lock and key and decided to let sleeping dogs lie. the generation of people who grew up in the '90s have this really schizophrenic experience of reality or their parents on the one hand were going out and trying to make a living in trying to navigate a world that had become very difficult and very confusing and at the same time we were watching this as well. i'm in the soviet movies everything was so clear now i'm.
>> you know but the experience in eastern europe with prosecution would this has been mixed. some people you know, they feel that that kind of institution would divide in ways that would not be helpful to democratic development. >> i think that we should explain what lost laceration was, it was set into motion in countries like journey and the czech republic where people who have held that certain jobs are in the communist party app gratis were banned from holding state jobs. and so that meant that they were identified and they were officially disqualified. but i do not know that that kind of thing always works. but i'm pretty sure it's the only thing that works. >> we have had a version of that reckoning in iraq, which certainly didn't work, when from all levels where the army was
there's nothing in the idea that has -- nicer no political colonel there and actually allows -- no political kernel and russia sees it's in a confrontation with the west, and any party that otherwise posed to the europeannon is a good ally the far right or the far left. the brought the far right and the far left together, and russia was instrumental in that. in fran, it's the far right in finland, the far right. and germany they're reaching out to both sides of the political spectrum. >> host: well, let's -- how much of this is driven by putin himself? by the president. let's get to a basic question about what drives vladimir putin and what kind of russia does he
want? >> guest: what drives vladimir putin is he wants to stay in power and plans to do it for life and never plans to die. that is sort of creates a very high benchmark. because he needs to stay in power eternally. and he needs a lofty enough mission to ensure he stays in power eternally, which is why this idea of russia as a civilization state and this idea of a traditional values civilization they are suitable. they're ambitious enough to support this plan for staying in power eternally. in terms of who is pulling the levers in the kremlin on the one hand i think it's right to acknowledge it's a closed system and we have only anecdotal evidence of what goes on in there. the fact that it's a closed system is terrible, and it
basically means it's the kind of system that can only implode and cannot be affected by outside forces. from what i've seen and what i've been able to sort of -- the information i've been able to collect is a lot of levers are concentrated in putin's hands. >> host: you wrote a biography of putin. how difficult to report on him or to gather information on him and to talk to people in his inner circle to talk to people and just beyond that point? >> guest: it wasn't anymore difficult than to report the book on the tsarnaev brothers. some ways it was easier. >> host: really? people would be surprised that getting inside the kremlin is easier -- >> guest: than getting inside the fbi? yes. the kremlin -- the kremlin is full of vain mediocre people
who -- actually, that doesn't really mark is at particularly different from the fbi. but there were people would wanted to talk to me just for the glory of talking to a journalist. and i think you didn't have a strong idea of discipline or loyalty that would prevent them from talking to me. there's also a lot of the work i did when i was writing the book about putin, "the man without a face. "was just looking very closely at his public statements, because i think that's sort of part of what journalists should do. there's a lot of information out there that sometimes we don't take enough time to examine and interpret, and i think that putin was a very strange politician a politician who had not had a public record before becoming leader of this huge country. head been a secret agent his entire life. so he was able to communicate what he wanted the world to know
about him when he came to power and it was actually a manageable amount of information. i could listen to every recording ever made of his speeches several times over, and still have time to write the book in a couple of years. but it was very interesting, for example, to read closely his official biography which was based on a series of interviews he did with a team of three journalists. and he told the same stories over and over again. these are the stories he wanted to have out there and these were all stories how he got into fights and all the fights would always play out in the same fashion. so, putin loses his temper and hits somebody, and then seems to calm down for a while and then loses his temper again and goes after that person when they least expect it. and you would get that story from putin and from other people talking about putin with the stamp of approval, and so what he basically wanted to
communicate he was a vengeful thug who had trouble controlling his temper. he came out and said it, and nobody wanted to listen. >> host: but he was talking about when he was a kid and -- >> guest: and a young kgb officer. he emphasized or had someone else emphasize he was willing to risk his entire career to get into a fight on the subway in st. petersburg. >> host: how formative is the kd experience for him? he spent a period of time before the collapse of the soviet union. he was a lieutenant colonel he was in the backwater in east germany. he wasn't a prominent kgb operative. >> guest: he wasn't prominent but was very committed and don't think he left the kdb when he says he did. >> host: he said he left and then he said he left again. >> guest: exactly. and suggests maybe he didn't leave. and his story about leaving the kgb is infin it inly changeable and changing, and not credible
at all. he was born into the kgb his father was an officer and then -- he had ambitions of joining kgb when he was a kid. he tried von as a high school student. he finally got recruited into the kgb when he graduated from university, and all he ever wanted to be was the secret agent ruling the world from the shadows. didn't want to be president of russia ruling the country openly. although he seems to have got an taste of it after a while. >> host: when he was in east germany when the wall came down and there's this famous, moscow is silent. they're there trying to figure out what to do, and nothing is coming from moscow. how formative do you think that experience was for him? >> guest: i think it's huge.
again, not so much the arm--psychologist as i'm just listen to what he told us. it's clearly an important thing that happened to him. he was a paper pusher in the kgb office in dresden so a small city in germany. germany was being rocked by antisoviet protests. protesters gathered in front of the kgb building, in dresden. putin was afraid the people were about to storm the building. he called the soviet army headquarters in berlin and asked for protection, and they said, we can't send anybody unless we get an order from moscow and moscow is silent. and so he went back inside the building and started burning documents that were collected in this building, and he burnt them in the stove until the stove cracked from the heat.
>> host: and you are one of -- i mean among the people i know who have actually met putin. you had -- you were invited to the kremlin and -- which struck me has highly unusual. i'm -- >> guest: struck me as highly unusual, too. >> oo if you could tell us what happened. why you were invite expected what happened. >> guest: i wasn't invited because i wrote a book about putin. but this happened about six months after the book came out. i was editing a popular science magazine and i was asked to send -- my publisher called me on a saturday morning and asked me to send a reporter to cover putin hang-gliding with the siberian cranes, and i took a very -- really actually not a very brave stand. i said, look, we're a popular science magazine. we don't have to too this. i actually have a story assigned
on the siberian crane on the campaign to repopulate the population of siberian cranes and just -- if i send a reporter, then the reporter will see something and then i will be obligated to put in the magazine and you're not going to want me to put it in the magazine and we'll have a problem. let's just not see anything. and the publisher said, no, why don't you send a reporter, and then we don't have to publish anything. i said that i can't do. if the reporter goes, then -- and brings something back, i have to publish it. he said, okay, in that case, you're fired. and then on monday, when i went into work and sign the paper about my firing, and i tweeted -- probabli' russian speakers in the audience i tweeted. [speaking in foreign language] >> and i'm not going translate.
anyway it actually indicated that i was leaving my job and it was putin's fault. and so he called me the next day -- >> host: he called you directly. >> guest: todd caulked me on at the on the. >> host: and said it's vladimir. >> guest: vladimir. and i thought this is like really inventive prank and i had to come up with something witty to say because this will be on youtube. but it was early in the morning and i couldn't come um with anything. he kept talking and he said, want to talk to you about my nature conservation efforts gruesome mind? i said i don't mind but how die now who you say you are. he said every hang up the deputy of my administration will call you and schedule a meeting and i'll show up and you'll know i am who i say i am. and that sounded reasonable. so i went to the kremlin, and
the amazing thing -- aside from just the experience of hearing from member who -- in a way i feel like i had made up, and i spent all this time trying to get in me man's head but never seen him in person. see he was a character in my book and was going to come alive. i wasn't the first time i wrote a book about someone i couldn't interview. the book before that was about a russian mathematician who refused a million dollar prize for solving a mid. and after putin and i got off the phone i googled any editor and said, putin just called? and she said, how are you and do you feel safe? i said, i'm excited but it would more and exciting if -- had called. i really wanted to see what the
person was like. >> host: and? >> guest: pretty much the person in the book. there were no surprises. i was hoping he would come alive and wouldn't be as two-dimensional as the person i had described but he wasn't. the highlights were basically two. one was that when i walked in the said, i like kitties and puppies and little animals. and that was meant to commune that he really is serious about the siberian cranes. and the other thing was he didn't know who i was. he knew i was editor of this magazine that he liked and the idea of calling me in was to put me back on hi job because he liked the magazine a lot and if he liked something he thinks the owns it, which is part of what has gone wrong with russia. but he had not been briefed on me. he didn't realize i was an american citizen. he didn't realize i had been an opposition journalist for a long
time -- >> host: or you had written a biography. >> guest: yes. >> host: that's unbelievable. what kind of staff does he have that -- >> guest: the problem is for him to know that a book that critical of him had come out in 20 languages someone would have had to tell him. and nobody wanted to tell him that. especially after he called me. >> host: you said he struck you as two-dimensional. i think a lot of people would find that hard to fathom because here is a man who -- he did come to power as president. he has held on to power for 15 years. he has shown quite an ability to wield it and to crush his enemies, and how does a two-dimensional figure manage all of that. >> guest: it's a really interesting argue. i keep getting into this conversation with a lot of people and it's like steven -- a great historian of russia and author of a new biography he
mentioned the article that i make a case for putin being a mediocrity and an accidental president, and then he writes the line, but nobody accidental person can stay in power this long. and i don't know where that assertion comes from. actually well, he has. and there's no definitive proof he is three-dimensional or intelligent or skilled, and there arlet of indications he is not very well educated, not very well informed man with very strong instincts for playing people off against one another and for holding on to power but he is also in office in a country where the magic of office is huge. and where it was very -- proved very easy for him to dismantle the democratic mechanisms that existed when he came in and to set into motion all the
totalitarian mechanisms. >> host: you mentioned the storks and that's just one of many things we've seep. he's again diving in the sea. been with the tigers, and -- >> in n and the polar bear. >> host: been in a submersible and flown a jet. >> guest: and driven a submarine, yes. >> host: what's this about? is this burnishing a public image for the russian public? the bare chest the hostback, all of it. >> guest: there are distinct periods. there was his early -- probably his first all years were all about driving. like flying a plane and piloting the submersible and then piloting a didn't an aircraft carrier and a submarine and so i think those were sort of -- he was king of the world and transportation. and then there's like the king
of the jungle period, which was siberian cranes and the tigers tigers and the polar bears. these are always the largest animals of their kind. they're very carefully chosen. and then there was the bare-chested sex symbol period of virility. and now there's the war in ukraine. >> host: and he remains -- if we can talk about his popularity or his apparent popularity among the russian public, and i think lavada recently had -- which is an independent polling agency in russia had his approval ratings over 80%. >> guest: 88. >> host: obviously the state media, all of that plays a role, but at the same time there seems to be some connection there. that his popularity isn't
entirely manufactured. >> host: i think it's really difficult to talk about. all the language that we have to talk about opinion polls and popularity figures are -- it's all based on our experience of studying opinion in democratic societies, and the thing is that what putin has done over the last two years is setting in motion the mechanisms of a totalitarian society and he has done something never done being which retrofit a totalitarian system. and one thing that kicked in is what happens to popular opinion which is that it's matter of survival to know what to think and to say and it's very, very difficult to draw a distinction between what people say sincerely and what people say that's bay know they're supposed to say it. they know they're supposed to be sincere and in fact it's a matter of survival to be sincere about it. and there's a very, very small
minority roughly that 12% to 15%, that stays stably antiputin and antiputin kremlin poll sin. in opinion polls that seems to have some resistance to that use one of the thing wes have seen emerge and -- in his latest term is this kind of state-sponsored homophobia and i'm wondering if you could tell us what this antigay propaganda law is and does and why you think it emerged at this juncture sunny think it emerged almost by accident. what happened three years ago was that putin came back for his third term as president and he was faced with something unprecedented, which is popular protests and there were protests going on all over russia, and he found them really genuinely frightening. the protesters didn't have any
mechanisms for overthrowing putin or for even preventing his claiming any percentage in the election which he claimed 53% in the presidential election, but he is actually personally and historically very frightened of protesters and i think that goes back to the scene the in dresden. and he felt that the kremlin had lost control of the country. this was something that he communicated to his close subordinates they had let this happen. so they needed to engineer a crackdown and also needed to mobilize the done trip against the protesters, and so he is throwing out just random insults to the protesters etch the first thing he said was they were personally inspired by hillary clinton. and that they -- the white ribbon that became the symbol of the protesters that a lot of people wore on their lapels, he said from a distance it looked
like a spent prophylactic and that people for some reason decided to spin these empty condoms to they're lapels, which is some sort of illusion to a lack of virility on the part of the protesters, i guess. and then the short step to starting to gay-bait the protesters and that really got traction. and this is what tim snyder calls a calculated cacophony. they throw out a lot of messages and then obsessed with feedback, obsessed with polling numbers. so they keep a very close track of what works and the gay-baiting really worked. and i think it worked for very clear reasons. it was great shorthand for saying there -- they're other they're western, they're not russian, they're enemies of russia. they are also part of what has been strength about russia and
uncomfortable about russia since the soviet union collapsed because be didn't have any openly gay pipe until after the collapse. so you can say all of that just by gay-baiting the protesters and then started ballooning into the whole idea of traditional values. and obviously i'm simplifying and will write a whole book about it, but russia has always -- the russian government has traditionally worked hand in hand with the russian orthodox church especially in times of crisis and this is true during the seive yet period. the kremlin would reach for the church. >> host: like during world war ii. >> guest: exactly. to sort of fortify its position. so this was happening as putin was running his presidential campaign which is why -- -- why pussy riot went to jail. and this unholy alliance of the kremlin and the russian her to
docks church came up with the idea of traditional value civilization and the centerpiece of that idea was the antigay campaign. >> host: how this lgbt community responding? are people live organize hiding or able to fight back in any way? >> guest: i don't think it's possible to fight back. not just because the lgbt community is still quite small and weak in russia, but it's impossible to fight back against the monolith of the russian state with all the media at its disposal and all the mechanisms mechanism re repression at its disposal. a lot of people have left. i know a hundred people have come to new york city, a lot of people in san francisco a lot of miami in d.c. some people are trying to stay low and hope that this end
inside the foreseeable future. >> host: obviously this affected you personally. you have had death threats in the past over the course of your career. you've taken great risks in reporting in chechneya, for example, and yet you finally decided you had to leave russia. >> guest: reporting in chechneya -- war reporting which you have done, is you go there and then you come back and you're safe, and it's like the fact you can remove yourself from danger is actually part of what makes war report so appealing and effective. when you're threatened in your own home, that's a little different. and basically i was -- it was communicated to me the state would go after my oldest son who is adopted and they would try to annull the adoption. so that was -- even sort of before i got into the technicalities and the issue of how this was legally possible, chit is, as it turns out.
just the visceral understanding that they could actually go after my kid was too much to take. >> host: and you mentioned the orthodox church. russia has four official religions, right? and orthodoxy judaism islam buddhism. how are the other denominations responding to this close political relationship between the orthodox church and the kremlin? >> guest: a great question. the relationship actually -- the cooperative relationship is working with all the denominations, and you can see that even for those of us paying attention, there was a recent photo op with putin and representatives of the four official religions, all carefully placed to communicate the hierarchy of religions. the two rabbis standing farthest away from putin and then the most -- the patriarch closest.
but the relationship between the more liberal wings of each religion and the more conservative and the traditional state controlled structures, which never went anywhere, basically mimics in all the other religions mimics what happened in the russian orthodox church, where the more liberal wing has been all but destroyed in the last few years. >> host: before we move on to boston one final question in this area, and the west and the united states in particular over the last several years has struggled in how to -- what kind of relationship to have with russia and with president putin. we have had engagements and then we've had isolation we've had reset. now have sanctions. obviously you're not in government but is it appropriate to isolate russia to
sanction russia, or as others argue, steven collins for instance, that is in the national security interest of the united states, regardless of the form of government in russia to have a working relationship with that government. >> guest: russia is an extremely unreliable partner and the latest example is the negotiations with iran, which russia basically participated in. it appeared to be participating as a partner and then the day after the negotiations were completed and the deal was signed, russia announced its unilateral decision to sell weapons to iran. so this is -- it's a classic first putin gesture. it's the -- you've been had again message. russia has no particular strategic interest in selling those weapons to iran. it has a strong interest in communicating that sort of
message to the united states. so i don't see any argument for dealing with a partner that will be unreliable -- that will reliably be up reliable at every turn, and no -- certainly with ukraine we have seen that no amount -- there's nothing the west can do that can influence what putin does. that frees the west up to do the right thing. >> host: which is? >> guest: which is not to be invested and not to engage him in any way and not to give him the honor of being recognized as a partner in any enterprise. >> host: turning to the united states and in particular to boston you just published a book obviously on the bombing and i guess the question everybody asks -- this won't be the first time you've heard it -- why did they do it? what did they want to achieve?
>> guest: well that's -- yes that's the question that we always ask about terrorists, and the traditional answer, that has been given since 9/11, is you have to find the radicalization narrative, and the'd calizeation narrative from both the fbi a lot of the media coverage, is there's a huge international organization that recruits a young man or two young men and takes them through identifiable stages where they're first preradicallized and radicalized and finally become terrorists. ...
that support violence don't go. some of the people that go to build bombs bombs and set him off the bombs in santa monica and have radical beliefs. and terrorism has been telling us this for years. so what they have been telling us is that people get the profile that they see perfectly. but they usually see is
immigrants, young men with a secular education contrary. usually with a middle-class background but increasingly marginalized and with a social circle within which they form their connection. all of this is true of these brothers and millions of other people that are also not going to go and build bombs. we come up with -- >> is there an x. factor or something that pushes someone over the line? >> i don't think that there is an identifiable factor. what is important to understand is that sort of -- what is so tempting and a lurking on the other side which is terrorism is a ticket to the longing and it's a ticket to belonging to something great. nobody feels more like a nobody dan and immigrant to being
somebody that declares war on a great power. not only do you like a great entity to the great power, but the power accepts the declaration of war and the entire rhetoric not just in the united states but the entire western world is this rhetoric of the war. they have attacked us. well actually no they didn't attack us. they set off bombs and they committed a horrible crime. they killed people and injured 264 and 16 people lost their legs, but they didn't attack the american nation. they set off bombs at the marathon and committed a crime. >> so we should criminalize this and we shouldn't make it a matter of war or conflict or whatever. >> yes. like the spectacle if you remember from january and the years of the european nations marching through the streets of
paris, which seem so inspiring at first is i think the wrong reaction because why should they have the power to get angela merkel to march in paris. >> they can't sit in their office and ignore it. >> they should prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. >> and the trial itself you found the quality aspects (-open-parenthesis i'm a. >> the american justice system is not designed to get at the truth and it's not a bad thing
and it isn't defined to conduct an investigation. this process is designed to hear two different narratives and the point is to a portion guilt and a fine punishment. at the plate if it is not to get a comprehensive picture of what happened. that is the job of the fbi and they haven't done this job. >> at the same time if you look at what the defense did we got a fairly simple narrative from them, which is heated it. and their focus has been not on disputing his guilt on preventing him from being sentenced to death. >> which is his job to and they
have done a spectacular. it was even more of a surprise to just the way that they selected witnesses and staged the case. they go from the mundane in the morning and incredibly emotional in the late afternoon to have the jury go home at the end of the week pondering the absolute worst of what would happen at the marathon. it was like watching an incredible theater production and it was devastating i think for not just the people in the courtroom because it is so emotionally powerful. that's why did i find it unsatisfying because they are questions that cannot be answered in the court.
so one question is where one of the bombs were the bombs made and the fbi testified in court he don't know where they were made. they know that they were not made in his apartments were in the dorm room so they were made somewhere else. then who else was involved, was this person who rents the space or wasn't accomplished and they don't know unless the fbi tells us and what was the relationship and the fbi and somebody did the interview at least three times in 2011 as a trigger for some risk. how come he was able to then build the bomb and set off. >> and napolitano that reviewed your book said that you were a conspiracy theorist for raising questions about the will of world of the fbi because from her point of view they have thousands of assessments of people every year and the fact that they didn't immediately and
recognized and is indicative of nothing. >> all i did was raise the question that -- but here's what happened. the bombs went off on monday afternoon and on tuesday morning the technical specialist had isolated a likeliness of the brothers from the states and after he was killed, they couldn't identify the brothers. i am assuming that even though -- i know that the task force in boston isn't a large. the number of people that go out to interview real life terrorism suspects is finite. three days is enough time to show each one of those people that pictures that they had isolated from the videotapes. is it conceivable they didn't
show the pictures come absolutely but it's a sign of incompetence and that may well be the biggest missing link that the fbi is not disclosing. >> and throughout the proceeding in boston, the defendant just sat there. have you learned anything about him through this whole process quite >> he sat there looking like he's a little bit older than he was during the tv -- the bombing. you can tell anything about his emotional reaction except he will not make eye contact with any of the witnesses. it's been really kind of moving for me to watch his relationship with the defense because she is under special administrative measures, which is a particular kind of hell imposed on terrorism suspects.
it's like extreme solitary. he has no physical contact with anybody but prison guards and his lawyers when they come to visit. he cannot have visits from anyone but immediate family no more than once a week and he has to speak english to them because the fbi has to listen in. he can only write one letter a week on a single sided sheet of paper to an immediate family member and the fbi has to be able to read it. so he has almost no human contact and it's very clear that the members of the defense team go to pains to have that contact with him he >> that it's only going to get worse. assuming that he gets a life sentence he will spend it in colorado where the conditions will be as severe as you just described. >> may be to prevent from getting the death penalty they are saving him for hell on earth. >> i think that's a distinct possibility.
and some people have asked the question principle to opposition to the death penalty which is what drives his extraordinary defense lawyers reason enough to condemn him to a lifetime total and profound isolation. >> on that happy note -- [laughter] i knew he would end on that note. >> we will move to questions from the audience. >> first question right up front. >> what kind of personal life does putin have come a very become the children -- is he capable of having a personal life? spinnaker out of the time he was getting serious about the traditional values campaign come he divorced his wife. [laughter] which is actually -- it's not
just funny, but very interesting because it is such a clear indication of how -- it's not even hypocrisy. it's just the division between the rulers of russia and the rest of the country. i mean come it doesn't even occur to him that the same kind of rules that things should then apply to the population should also apply to him. so other than that, there are a lot of rumors about his personal life. i haven't been able to cooperate any of them so i didn't include any of them in the book. >> next question. >> i wonder if you could update us on the right it's the last i saw they were on the house of cards protesting a fake blood on their putin. >> so, the two members of the
riots who ended up serving time in jail have emerged as i think really extraordinary activists. they founded the prisoners rights organization. they are trying to work for both individual prisoners and prison reform. i don't think there is as much hope before the regime change. but they have been able to do a lot on behalf of individual inmates. basically they set up a clearinghouse for information and they get people to write in or call about abuses in prison and then they get people to pay attention to a particular person for the lawyers to start filing complaints and they just save people from inhumane conditions or extreme punishment in these
prisons. they also have a very active international life which includes an episode in appearance on house of cards. i think they try to use this while and one of the things that i've been impressed with is that they really try to find something that they can talk about locally. so when they went to australia they met with local prisoners rights activists and asked them about what issues they should bring up and they reproduced the message and did the same thing when they went to new york and they asked to be able to visit prisons, which was complicated but they got a couple of visits and also met with activists and i think sometimes it is a little awkward but it is sophisticated.
>> questioned him question down here in the front. >> is he homophobic or just strategic on the opposing gay-rights? >> i don't know that homophobia rises to the standard of the conviction. i think that he kind of hates people. and he is now very happy to hate gay people. >> for me the strongest and most influential part of the book for me is the closing statements.
my question to you is in your investigative talk talk do they create those closing statements alone? >> yes. >> i recommend anybody to read them because those closing statements are so powerful. >> they are incredible. >> at night over the course of a few days after the trial. in a prison transport for hours been delivered to court the hearing would go on for ten hours every day. they would then be driven back to. so they would get like three hours of sleep every night.
they were dehydrated because they couldn't get regular breaks in court so they were careful not to drink much. these were torture conditions and at the end, they were able to write incredibly smart and articulate moving statements. >> question over here on the right. >> you are such an inspiration to so many people. one thing that struck me as rather odd coming over here today is your tenacity addressing people that abuse power and you've taken on vladimir putin who seems to be one of the more fierce old people on earth and yet you're still alive, whereas it seems that a fellow named freddy gray and eric garner and other fellows that have the wrong skin color in this country have been facing much less and ending up
dead and i was wondering if you had any thoughts on the plight of black males in the united states today and what our responsibilities as a country might be. >> i don't know that i have anything to say besides the obvious. part of the recent -- and i always get this question which boils down to how come you were still walking around. and one of the reasons i'm still walking around is that i have outlets. people perceive me as being sort of protected. if i am knocked off it will be noticed. there are costs to getting rid of someone like me. and if you compare that to journalists in russia who don't get published in "the new york times" or "washington post" and have to work translated into
other languages who are at much greater risk because they are anonymous. >> i'm curious about your background because your english is completely fluent trade was one of your parents american? what was your journey to the u.s.? >> i came here when i was 14 with my parents as a refugee from the soviet union and then i went back as an american correspondent and stayed for a very long time and then re- emigrated a year and a half ago. >> question over here on the right. >> do you still want to go back to russia if there was no danger to the family do you want to go
back? >> you mean go back to live or -- you know i am experienced -- i travel back all the time. i just -- it feels better to be based in the states and to have my family in the states. but i'm also an experienced immigrant, so i know that when you go, you have to go and not think about moving back. so i am not making any plans moving back i've made my home in the states now. >> i was wondering if you could talk about the state of independent journalism in russia. it seems to be slowly deteriorating. >> this will be a very short answer. [laughter] there is basically one print magazine left. there is one web-based
television channel that used to have satellite and cable outlets and now is pretty much limited to the web and the fact it is still functioning as a miracle to those that run it. there's a couple online locations that they are increasingly difficult for people to access because the consumers which has already been given almost unlimited ability to block access to the various resources and has blocked access to them which makes it difficult to edit in addition to being difficult to read because you can't act. there was a very good in a integrated online publication which was a basically purged last year so the former editor in chief has gone into exile and is running a publication with a small editorial staff and a lot
of reporters based on the ground in russia and it's quite good. but it is another hero at effort. it's really sad about that the most important online publication is now from exile and of course the moment .-full-stop when they will block access to it. >> question over here on the right. >> recently in meetings somebody asked but he never had a chance to answer if everything will work out as you hope what would we do with 87%?
just also a on the mind what do you think is putin the problem or the russian mind because it feels that this country keeps choosing the monsters to lead them. >> i think russia is a country that has been taking an incredible amount of abuse over the last century. and when we talk about individuals abused we never expect them to heal themselves and start being normal all of a sudden. for some reason when we talk about an entire society that has been used, we expect it is to heal itself and to have democracy. well guess that's what it
doesn't work that way as it turns out. and russia as i mentioned at the beginning of the conversation they made a series of choices not to address its own crimes but it's easy for us to talk about how it should have made other choices. no one has done that. we have never seen a country that has addressed its own crimes and for that searched its own psyche. it was a lot easier for the former soviet satellite countries, which had a resource and the ability to tell the story that this was imposed on them by someone else and they were now rid of that occupying power and could go back to being their own great democratic wonderful self. russians would have to face up to the fact that they
systematically committed horrible crimes against themselves for generations and that most of the time you couldn't tell from the victims or if they were interchangeable. and as i've said we've never seen a country do that kind of soul-searching. i can only imagine that if it is ever done, it will have to be done by -- would have to be some sort of incredible inspirational political leader who comes out of nowhere and takes russia down this very difficult path. >> first of all, thank you so much for being here tonight. i have enjoyed your talk as i imagine many of us have. my question relates to any advertisers or close confidant of putin upon whom he relies either for strategic or domestic matters and policy financial
and whether they do exist whether it is simply just ten running the show. >> i hesitate to talk about this because i think i have an idea of how it works and people have ideas how it works. ultimately we don't know how it works because it is a black box and in the end it is the most salient characteristic of the system. if it is perfectly sealed and isolated. >> question over here on the right. >> i just had a question on whether or not there's any sort of a membership among the activists in russia may be with the older generation even though that's kind of a harsh term. maybe the '90s were the late '80s. >> [inaudible] no. [laughter] >> i think you have a very
beautiful picture of what's possible in russia in your head. it's just a dalia struggle for survival for people who are trying to do something in terms of organizing in russia. there is one project that's wonderful and maybe this is what you have in mind. it's called the children 404. it's an online community started by a journalist who started by writing a story about lgbt teenagers so hard if i buy what she she started a community for 04, which is the code when you go to a page that is accessed so the tagline we exist and it's some of them with pictures, some
of them are signs, some of them are not. it's mostly a way for just sharing with one another. she regularly gets -- most of them are awful. some of them are so awful that she gets involved in the situation and tries to get a kick out out out of out of the psychiatric hospital to which his mother has committed him or get a young woman whose mother has hired someone to rape her to a safe haven. that is a sort of mentor ship that is about saving people's lives on a dalia basis. >> we are way to take one last question and then she will be signing books. >> and a man without in a man
without a face, you write it out to horrendous terrorist attacks. one was the apartment house in moscow and the other was on a school outside of moscow hundreds of children were killed. you conclude that the soviet coup excuse me, the russian security services were responsible. my question is this. if you think do you think putin was involved or did it turn out to be a rogue action? >> i actually don't think that the school attack was organized. i think that it was much more of a sort of classic line of the rogue terrorist organization but what happened was that in the end during the so-called liberation attempt de facto russian secret police and terrorists were working in concert because they were working whether by design or the general need those were working
to maximize the number of casualties. now, as with the apartment building bombings in august september, 1999 there is a lot of evidence that points to the fsb. i would stop short of saying that i came to the conclusion was the fsb because i don't have enough information and that is the problem being a journalist especially being a journalist in the country where none of the law-enforcement agencies or the civil oversight agencies do their jobs. and then maybe there are amazing investigative journalists that can crack that on their own. i don't think that's possible. i think that journalists lack the tools for that. i cannot collect enough evidence. i can write about what's out there and what's out there seems to point to the fsb. >> i want to thank everybody for