The most powerful man in the world

As you know, Winston Churchill described Russia as “a mystery”. Prime Minister Churchill meet Vladimir Putin.


Donald trump: “He’s a real leader, he is more of a leader than our President”.


Hillary Clinton: “He was a KGB agent, he is, by definition, cannot be the soul.”


John McCain: “Vladimir Putin is a thug and a murderer”.


William Browder: “He is the richest man in the world, there is funneling hundreds of billions of dollars.”


What does he want Donald trump?


Julia Ioffe: “Putin will eat him alive”.


Hillary Clinton: “He needs a puppet instead of a President.” Trump: “You are the puppet”.


How is he influential?


— Putin has unlimited power.


— I don’t see anyone to keep his power.


Really it’s so powerful that rigged election in the US?

— Of course, Putin wants Hillary Clinton lost.


— He despised Hillary Clinton.


Dmitry Peskov: “who do you like?”


While Russia celebrates, the Americans wonder what they want, and if he really is the most powerful man in the world?


5 Dec 1989. In East Germany, in Dresden came a cold night that will change the course of life of Vladimir Putin. The Berlin wall had just been destroyed. Across East Germany took to the streets, the crowds of angry people, which demolished the symbols of Communist power. That night in Dresden they found their goal — the local headquarters of the KGB. The mob surrounded the building. As time went on, and the crowd became more and more. Is occurring looked out the window, a young Lieutenant Colonel named Vladimir Putin.


Masha Gessen: “He was horrified by the thought that they will storm the building.”


Putin was a Junior officer, but the boss was out of town, and he was in charge.


Edward Lucas, senior editor of the Economist: “the Berlin wall fell, the police are no help, and he calls to get instructions”.


Desperately looking for support, Putin scored a number of the Moscow headquarters of the KGB. He dialed it again and again. Finally, one official replied by saying only one sentence: “Moscow is silent”.


Masha Gessen, author of a biography of Putin: “I think he took it as a terrible betrayal.”


Vladimir Putin was alone.


He went down to the basement of the building and lit the stove.


David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine: “He is in the basement, at the furnace, destroying documents, and outside the screams of the demonstrators.”


Edward Lucas: “He quickly burned the secret documents that the furnace exploded.”


Putin burned thousands of pages of documents and secrets of the KGB, and the crowd surrounded the building of denser. The fire was still raging when Putin came to the crowd one. “The building is armed security,” he told them. — They will shoot you.”


Edward Lucas: “He was able to bluff, telling the crowd, do not start the riots here, otherwise you will not be good.”


Putin’s threat worked: the crowd dispersed.


David Remnick: “This dramatic moment, Putin remembered for a lifetime. Fear of popular unrest”.


Vladimir Putin suppress this fear with absolute control. And that’s how this control looks. In Moscow, one of the busiest cities in the world, the roads are clear for the passage of Putin’s escort. 12 million people just disappear in the day of Putin’s inauguration.


The event was perfectly designed for Russian television. All the details were perfectly planned. Well, almost all the details. A few Russians did not act according to script.


Julia Ioffe, a journalist, who witnessed the brutal actions of OMON on inauguration day: “Literally a block away from the venue of his inauguration is a cafe “Jean-Jacques” where opposition, drinking wine, coffee… Suddenly the cafe comes the riot police starts to detain people, sitting behind their tables on the street, flipping tables, smashing plates, cups”.

Tough measures of the police never showed on Russian TV.

Julia Ioffe: “94% of Russians the main source of news is television. If this is not shown on TV, so this does not happen at all.”


Putin controls the TV.


David Remnick: “In Russia live there was no criticism of Vladimir Putin, no, not one word.”


Putin controls everything in Russia.


Robert gates, former U.S. Secretary of defense: “Putin has limitless power.”


David Remnick: “I don’t see anyone to keep his power.”


— He is able to take a unique, quick decisions, the absolutism which is not comparable with anything I saw in Russia.


All this power is supported by an astounding approval rating, remaining at 80%, and it is the result of the American sociological centers.


— Donald trump wins the US presidential election.


However, when the United States elected its new President, the impression that Russia is fascinated by the new leader.


This event is celebrated all over Moscow: in the State Duma, on talk shows and in bars.


And only one person didn’t seem surprised by the victory of trump.


Masha Gessen: “He gleefully gives it out as a result of their work, and that means he won the election. That is, he was both the President of Russia, and kept under the control of the United States”.


Everywhere in Russia, a counterpart of trump.


Donald trump: “You’re fired”.


But perhaps one of the American TV show best characterizes the relationship trump and Putin.


Masha Gessen: “In my opinion, Putin sees the tramp of his student”.


But at the heart of all this lies the vital questions: does Vladimir Putin have any influence on Donald trump? If he intervened in the U.S. elections?

© Host photo Agency | go to photobanks Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov

Fareed Zakaria: “I wanted to ask him, but he refused to answer my questions, but answered them his close aide Dmitry Peskov”.


Peskov: “the Answer is very simple — no. You humiliate his own country, saying that other state may intervene in the process of your choices. America is a huge country that is considered the most powerful country in the world. It’s just impossible.”


We get to the truth, but we need to return to the end of the existence of the country he loved Vladimir Putin.


Robert gates: “I think, deep down, Putin feels a sense of incredible humiliation associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because it wasn’t just the Soviet Union, it was the Russian Empire.”


Putin returned from his service in the KGB in 1990 in the country, which he did not recognize. Soviet Union has experienced a transformation thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev and his policy of openness called “glasnost”.


David Remnick: “there’s a Lot happening very quickly. A passion for everything Western.”


Freedom come quickly, exposing the rot, concealed at the root of Soviet communism. Across the Soviet Union hundreds of thousands of people began to demand democracy and national independence. And again it was something that Putin feared most: a popular uprising. And finally the people won.

— Tonight in Moscow, in the Kremlin, the red flag of the Soviet Union disintegrated was lowered, and instead raised the flag of Russia.


Robert gates: “300 years of history were erased”.


Soviet institutions such as the KGB, just cease to exist.


David Sanger, the journalist of the newspaper The New York Times: “Vladimir Putin considers the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the XX century”.


It was a difficult time, which profoundly changed Vladimir Putin. He became a politician, the Deputy mayor in his hometown of St. Petersburg. It wasn’t a very substantial post, but, obviously, Putin had big plans. He ordered this rarely shown documentary about himself: Vladimir Putin, as evidenced by the credits, is “Power”. Surprisingly, the soundtrack to the film was taken from the Broadway musical “Cats.”


Putin has ambitious could aim for Moscow, because the Russians desperately longed for a strong leader. Under President Boris Yeltsin, the new democracy was a complete chaos.


Masha Gessen: “the Whole Soviet system simply collapsed”.


The oligarchs, the people receiving the profit from the wreckage of communism, became fabulously wealthy.


— Automotive companies in Russia sell more of their machines than any other country in Europe.


At the same time, ordinary citizens were buried in abject poverty. They experienced a food deficit and even died from hunger.


I don’t know what to feed children when there is no milk. Just don’t know what to do.


Power was President Boris Yeltsin, but he ceased to inspire the trust of the people.


— He drinks. He barely kept on his feet.


The Russians needed a new leader.


They are tired of the embarrassment for Yeltsin.


And the wings were waiting for Vladimir Putin. He took up the post in Moscow, in the Kremlin, and quickly climbed the career ladder.


— From city officials, he became the Kremlin’s superstar.

© RIA Novosti, Vladimir Vyatkin | go to fotobanka and Yeltsin on red square

He just took over as Prime Minister when it became clear that the country needs a new President.


— Yeltsin was on the verge of collapse, and made a bet on Putin to Yeltsin resigned and went to prison.


Boris Yeltsin was involved in Grand corruption, but the Kremlin’s forces wanted to protect him.


David Remnick: “Why was the agreement”.


December 31, 1999.


— The unexpected announcement by Boris Yeltsin that he resigns and transfers power to his Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


At the beginning of the XXI century Vladimir Putin became President of Russia. His first words: “there Is a very tough competition, and we are not in her leaders.”


Putin immediately began to change their country. He visited soldiers on the front line in Chechnya, and convinced the Russians that they will have the best of times.


I think we will pay, and we will work.


The country instantly fell in love with Vladimir Putin.


The song number one in Russia was called “Such, as Putin”.


He just has a very… He’s just a wonderful person, you know.


But the biggest surprise was that America, too, fell in love with Vladimir Putin. President George W. Bush believed that he had found a kindred spirit.


George W. Bush: “I looked him in the eye, he was very open and trustworthy, I could feel his soul.”


Even Hollywood fell in love with the new Russian President. He talked with the stars at charity dinner, but their “honeymoon” abruptly interrupted.


Hillary Clinton: “He was a KGB agent, he by definition has no soul”. Hillary Clinton: “I’m so glad to see You.”


Next: when Vladimir met Hillary.


— It is important to remember how much he despised Hillary Clinton.


— How many times it will leave its mark? How will it illuminate the world? This is the woman.


In the centre of the hacking scandal that shook the elections of 2016, was an old grudge.


Chelsea Clinton: “Ladies and gentlemen, my mother, my hero and our next President Hillary Clinton!”


It went beyond ideology, it was personal. Vladimir Putin was not a fan of Hillary Clinton.


David Remnick: “of Course, Putin wanted Hillary Clinton lost, he hated Hillary Clinton.”


Hillary Clinton: “Prime Minister, we have a lot of problems…”


The tension between the two leaders has been brewing for many years. In 2001, President George W. Bush vouched for Putin: “I could see his soul.” But during the election campaign in 2008, Hillary expressed a different view: “I could tell him he was a KGB agent, he by definition has no soul, that is, it’s just a waste of time.”


— Recently Mrs. Clinton said that You have as a former KGB agent, by definition, has no soul.

© RIA Novosti, Sergey Guneev | go to photobacteria Russia and the USA Vladimir Putin and George Bush in Sochi residence of the Russian President “Bocharov Ruchey”

Putin’s response: “I think that a statesman must first have a head”.


In this respect, Clinton has in store a lot of harsh words for Putin: “He’s very cheeky in communication”, “We need to withstand his pressure,” “This is the person who will take as much as you can.” But the tipping point was what happened in 2011.


It all started with the protests of the “Arab spring”, the popular uprisings, which did not stand Putin.


David Remnick: “He begins to imagine yourself in the place of Hosni Mubarak”.


The head of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak had to stand trial. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was in a hopeless situation. The most terrible fate awaited the Libyan authoritarian leader Muammar Gaddafi, he was brutally murdered after begging to be left alive. Putin may fear that it will play the same bloody fate.


Just a few weeks later, protests began to take place in Moscow. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow, it was the largest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Julia Ioffe: “Men climbed lampposts, they took to the streets, it was a real shock.”


Now Putin was going through the same nightmare through which he passed, being a KGB agent in East Germany in 1989, only this time on its own territory. But this time he wasn’t even President. He held the post of Prime Minister, handing the presidency to his ally Dmitry Medvedev.


Julia Ioffe: “the further it went on winter, the colder it became, the more grew the protests.”


While Putin watched as people turned against him, Clinton decided to Express his opinion: “the Russians, like citizens of any other country deserve to have their voices listened to, and their votes were taken into account”.


Julia Ioffe: “When Putin hears something like that, he probably hears something like: Bush is shot and killed Saddam Hussein, he hears in this “They’re after me, they want to deprive me of the power that the hell you know about my people and how do they deserve to have their voices heard, I’ll decide whether to listen to them””.

© AP Photo Mikhail Metzel,PoolВладимир Putin meets Hillary Clinton on the eve of the APEC summit in Vladivostok

The Russians had many reasons for anger. The fall of that year the decision was made that Putin will participate in the race for the presidency. For the third time. This meant that he actually could rule Russia until 2024.


Julia Ioffe: “Some people said, “Oh, my God, I will die, and he will still be in power””.


A few months later it became clear that elections to the Russian Parliament was a farce.


Hillary Clinton: “We are seriously concerned about how the elections were held”.


Edward Lucas: “Hillary Clinton said publicly about the fraud during the elections. Unlikely, she thought, how bad can be the response.”


Caught in a stalemate, Putin has used against his enemy with his own weapons. He was to blame for the protests herself Hillary Clinton, saying that she solicited him to his statements about the election.


Hillary Clinton: “more and more obstacles appear for the implementation of the basic law.”


David Remnick: “She gave the signal, he said”.


Putin’s strategy led him to victory. In March 2012, he handily won the election, holding back tears after a tense struggle to preserve their power.


He won the battle, but still remembered the woman who hit him bedridden.


Fareed Zakaria: “do You think he interfered in the elections to finish this game?”


Robert gates: “I think these reflections suggested to him the idea of interference in elections, I am quite sure that in which Russia intervened and carried out a secret of manipulation”.


American intelligence concluded that Putin has personally led the campaign for the implementation of the impact on elections in America, partly due to the fact that he “harbored resentment” on Clinton in connection with her review in 2011.


Putin denied that Russia organized a hacker attack on the Democrats: “I know nothing about it. You know, so many hackers today. It is extremely difficult to verify.”


Russia concentrated its impact on particularly vulnerable targets, the National democratic Committee.


David Sanger: “the NIR could be hacked by using a conventional can opener for canned food. In order to get into the computer network of the Committee, it took less effort than burglars to get into the Watergate office of the NDF during the election campaign.”

© AFP 2016, Brendan SmialowskiПрезидент Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit

In the midst of a tense election race about incriminating emails Clinton talking all over the news: “WikiLeaks has published another…”, “another part of the stolen e-mails…”, “headquarters Clinton knows…”, “it’s just a dream come true trump”.


Donald trump happy trouble Clinton: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you will be able to find the missing 30,000 emails”.


— Donald trump will be the 45th President of the United States.


As a result, the us election went the way that Putin wanted.


Trump: “I just called Mrs. Clinton”.


Peskov: “Hillary Clinton expressed quite a negative attitude towards our country (trump: It would be nice to make friends with Russia), and the other candidate said that we need to find some understanding (trump: If people like me, they like me, even Putin), who would you prefer?”


Hillary Clinton: “It’s not the result we wanted…”


Hillary Clinton had one of the most unexpected defeats in U.S. history.


Hillary Clinton: “I know you’re upset, because I feel the same.”


At least in part, according to some observers, this occurred due to alleged hacker attacks.


Hillary Clinton: “It’s painful, and this pain will pass immediately”.


It is obvious that Putin will avenge their old wrongs.


Trump: “so help me God”.


And, he might have accomplished even more.


— The 45th President of the United States…


David Remnick: “If Donald trump in any respect will be compromised if the Russian government has some influence, some leverage, then this is very serious. I never for a minute can only assume that I have the answer to this question, but we can’t just go and ignore it”.


Further: “a famous representative of the Russian opposition, was shot dead”, “in plain sight, right in front of the Kremlin.” Putin would like the world forgot about this story.


27 Feb 2015, it’s almost midnight. Man and woman walking on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky bridge, located near the Kremlin, in an area under greater scrutiny, littered with cameras. With all these chambers have been preserved only these fuzzy shots, which depicted a decisive moment in Russian history. Inside the circle, as suggested by one of the Moscow TV channel, are Boris Nemtsov and his girlfriend.


Nemtsov was a famous Russian opposition leader who led protests in 2011. The channel claims that at the time, as the snowplow hides a few cameras and Nemtsov was shot four times in the back.


— Known representative of the Russian opposition, was shot dead…

— Four shots in the back…

— In plain sight, right in front of the Kremlin.


So who killed Boris Nemtsov?


Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, calling it shameful and impertinent. Five Chechens are now under investigation for this crime, but the case is still open. At the same time, doubts remain.


Julia Ioffe: “This murder was done very professionally.”


Russian-born journalist Julia Ioffe said that only one group could act with such professionalism.


Julia Ioffe: “Friend Nemtsov, with whom he went, did not understand that he was shot until the car drove off. This was done quickly and professionally, and no one has skills of this level, in addition to government”.


Senator John McCain went even further: “Vladimir Putin is a thug, a murderer and a KGB agent, he killed Boris Nemtsov right in front of the Kremlin.”


Peskov: “This is a personal insult, it is misconduct for a politician”.


These are the words of the chief aide to Putin and his press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov.


Peskov: “This is nonsense, there is nothing to comment on.”


During the reign of Putin, his regime was accused of involvement in the death of many critics of the government, including journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko. Russia expert Stephen Cohen said: “there is Not a shadow of proof, any fact which would confirm these accusations. However, they have become a kind of folklore reality.”


Suspicions about the possible involvement of Putin in the assassination of Boris Nemtsov may be partly related to the fact that the Germans were amassing evidence against Putin.


The Germans were planning to publish information proving the involvement of Russia in the conflict in Ukraine.


This report on Ukraine was published a few months after the murder of Nemtsov. However, existed and earlier, Nemtsov’s report, published in 2012, which was also very unpleasant for Putin. According to him, in the disposal of the President there were 43 aircraft, 15 helicopters, four yachts, including a yacht. In addition, the report talked about the presidential palaces. It said that Putin at any moment could use the 20 palaces. One of these palaces, which the press called simply “Putin’s Palace” allegedly worth a billion dollars.


Peskov: This is not true. More precisely, it is a perversion of reality.


Putin’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov stressed that all world leaders, especially leaders of nuclear powers such as Russia or the United States have access to state-owned houses, planes and helicopters, equipped with safe and secure communications systems.


Sands: of Course, he uses these cars, this plane, these residences, but they are not his property. Rumors of his wealth, rumors of the palaces have no relation to reality. It’s just a lie.


Some rumors about Putin’s wealth are dazzling.


Browder: Some (and I among them) believe that he is the richest man in the world. Or one of the richest men in the world.


Bill Browder was once Russia’s largest foreign investor. He is one of the most uncompromising critics of Vladimir Putin. We spoke with him in 2015.


Zakaria: do You think Putin is the richest man in the world?


Browder: I really think so. And I’m not exaggerating.


— Estimate the size of his state.


— 200 billion.


— Really?


— I believe it is 200 billion.


In this case, Putin must be almost two and a half times richer than the man who Forbes called the richest in the world — bill gates.


Sands: All these accusations, all these rumors about a multi-billion dollar state — is not true. Don’t believe them. He does not have anything. He has only the fact that every year he indicates in his personal income Declaration.


In the latest of Putin’s income Declaration States that he personally owns less than half acre of land and apartment, which area is about 900 square feet and a garage of 200 square feet, which he probably keeps these in the same document cars: vintage Russian sedan, the Russian SUV and a trailer like that. How many of Putin’s money in the Bank, and which for him the number of investments, the Declaration does not say.


A senior official of the Ministry of Finance, US Adam Zubin said the BBC: “I can’t give you exact numbers, but I can say that he allegedly receives from the state a salary of approximately $ 110 thousand dollars a year. The question in this case is not about an accurate assessment of his wealth.”


However, even if Putin and rich, he was not the only Russian who did it. Just look at the statistics. In 1996, when Putin moved to Moscow and began his rise to power in Russia there was not a billionaire. By 2014, according to Forbes, there were already 111. Thus, although Moscow appeared — to the delight of the handful of the rich are numerous dealers that sell Bentley, the average salary in the country reaches $ 450 per month, which, according to Stratfor, less than the average salary in China.


However, despite all the suspicions and accusations, the fact remains — in Russia, Vladimir Putin enjoys immense popularity. Why? Now we will talk about it.


The most powerful man in the world — most popular. In recent years, the rating of Vladimir Putin reached 86%. Note that American presidents are happy to overcome the barrier of 50%. How did it happen?


Partly the case in Putin’s cult. Putin is well able to courageously look. He rides bare-chested, finds underwater ancient treasure in the submarine descends to the bottom of the Black sea, piloting planes, fighting forest fires.


Jon Stewart: that’s ridiculous when middle-aged man, one of the world leaders, riding shirtless on a horse exactly overfed on the donuts Conan the barbarian. Is it someone can like?


David Remnick: things that we think Vladimir Putin is absurd, makes a good impression in the media universe, which he fully controls.


Rather, the Foundation of Putin’s power is still the same — relevant to the entire world the political truism: “It’s the economy, stupid!”


Under Boris Yeltsin, the country was in chaos, and Putin steadied her. He rode the wave of rising oil prices. In terms of the resource-rich Russian economy, this has led to an increase in salaries and stock indices. Then, at the end of 2014, the holiday ended. The price of oil collapsed, and then was introduced to Western economic sanctions. However, Vladimir Putin copes well with difficulties. He has cut social spending, began a policy of saving and allowed the ruble to fall, and its Central Bank continues to keep inflation under control. Putin clearly adheres to fiscal conservatism.


Remnick: On the external, ostentatious aspect of wealth, Moscow is closer to Dubai than to itself 30 years ago. This is a striking change.


Apart from Economics Putin has a secret weapon — nationalism, increased markedly in 2014 after the invasion that shocked the world.


Obama: Big countries can not afford to harass small!


Vladimir Putin, then grabbed a piece of Ukrainian territory. The West was terrified.


— So did Adolf Hitler in the 1930’s. We thought those days long gone!


But from Russia it all looked very different.


Henry Kissinger: I have not met a single Russian who would perceive Ukraine as a fully separate state.


Of course, many Ukrainians resented the invasion, but the Russians, it has revived a deep sense of belonging to a national power, and national destiny.


Putin gave them back their pride. Russia has again become a great power.


Putinism means the ideology of social conservatism and anti-Westernism — but first and foremost, of national power. Putin could say that he again made Russia great. Sounds familiar, isn’t it?


Trump: We again make America great!


Crowd: USA! USA!


Like Putin, trump uses nationalism to achieve popularity. However, many believe that Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin far.


Remnick: Putin is a much more skillful, subtle and crafty player. Speaking of the poker language, it with a pair of deuces on the hands played at the highest level. It reaffirms Russia on the world stage, starting with a relatively weak position. I don’t even know what to compare such a success. Geopolitical amazing achievement!


Zakaria: Finally I will tell you what I personally think about the man we called the most powerful in the world. For starters, I would like to explain the title of the movie. The United States — and China too — of course, stronger than Russia. However, the power of the head of state is defined as the power of the country and available to him (or her) capabilities to unilaterally dispose of the power, not looking at other institutions, parties or political forces. Judging by the combination of these two parameters is easy to understand why the first place should go to Vladimir Putin. He created, in his own words, the “vertical of power”, the likes of which we don’t see in any of the other great powers.


As noted by the Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, harshly criticizing Putin, the structure of Russian political power rests on one person. When the king died, it was clear that will come to power, his heir, his son. When he died, the General Secretary of the Communist party, his successor was chosen by the Politburo. However, what happens when — I almost said “if” — Putin will die? Nobody knows.


To understand Putin, you need to understand Russia. Over the last hundred years, the country survived the overthrow of the king, collapse of democracy, the Great depression, the Second world war that killed tens of millions of its inhabitants, the brutal totalitarian regime of Stalin, the fall of communism, the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin’s chaos and corruption, and then came Vladimir Putin, has ensured nearly two decades of stability. In addition, he, from the point of view of the people, raised living standards and brought Russia recognition and respect in the world.


Respect is extremely important. Russian has huge national pride. In the end, because Russia is the largest country on the planet. She is 48 times larger than Germany. It covers 11 time zones and is located in Europe, Asia and the middle East. In addition, it is a rich country with one of the world’s largest reserves of various raw materials — from oil and gas to Nickel, and aluminum. Culturally she often thinks of himself as the Third Rome, preserving the Christian faith, despite the fact that Rome and Byzantium was captured by barbarians.


Putin understands Russia. But he also understands and peace. He’s not so stupid to the forehead to attack America or Europe. He knows how to use force asymmetrically, to use cyber tools and misinformation. He knows the weakness of a free society, sees its internal divisions and disagreements, is generated by the openness, the vulnerability. He understood the fragility of such structures as the European Union and NATO, and such ideas as inclusion and diversity.


In other words, Vladimir Putin is well aware of us. The question is, whether we understand it and understand whether it’s Donald trump.