Masha Gessen

  • Aired:  02/29/12
  •  | Views: 36,736

Author Masha Gessen discusses Russia's upcoming elections and the unprecedented number of protesters taking a stand against Vladimir Putin. (6:55)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT A JOURNALIST

WHOSE NEW BOOK IS CALLED "THE

MAN WITHOUT A FACE: THE UNLIKELY

RISE OF VLADIMIR PUTIN."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM,

MASHA GESSEN.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOW ARE YOU?

WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

THE BOOK IS ENTITLED "THE MAN

WITHOUT A FACE: THE UNLIKELY

RISE OF VLADIMIR PUTIN."

IS HIS RISE MADE MORE UNLIKELY

FOR LACK OF A FACE?

(LAUGHTER)

IS THAT THE ISSUE THAT PUTIN HAS

BEEN FACING?

>> I... FACING IT, I DON'T KNOW

IF HE'S CAPABLE OF IT, BUT, YES,

HE WAS PLUCKED OUT OF NOWHERE IN

1999, COMPLETE UNKNOWN, CHOSEN

BY THE FORMER PRESIDENT

YELTSIN'S INNER CIRCLE FROM A

LINE OF OTHER FACELESS

BUREAUCRATS.

AND HE WAS BASICALLY AN

ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT WHO GOT

INCREDIBLY LUCKY WITH THE

RUSSIAN OIL BOOM.

>> Jon: WHY, THEN?

WHY PUTIN?

BECAUSE YOUR DESCRIPTION OF HIM

IN THE BOOK IS HE DOES NOT COME

OFF WELL.

(LAUGHTER)

THE FACE THAT WE SEE IS ONE OF

A... GENERALLY WHAT SEEMS TO BE

A THUGGISH INDIVIDUAL WHO

INTIMIDATES OPPONENTS.

I MEAN, A REAL TYRANT.

DID THEY SEE THAT IN HIM?

DID THEY SAY "OOH, I LIKE THE

CUT OF THAT FELLA'S JIB"?

OR DID THIS ARISE OUT OF

NOWHERE.

>> HE DIDN'T HIDE IT.

BUT NOBODY WANTED TO SEE IT.

AND THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT

PUTIN IS THAT HE SPENT BASICALLY

HIS WHOLE LIFE IN THE K-BG SO HE

SPENT HIS WHOLE LIFE IN SECRET

SO HE GOT TO WRITE HIS OWN STORY

WHEN HE BECAME A PUBLIC

POLITICIAN AND THE STORY HE

WROTE IS ONE OF A STREET TOUGH,

A THUG, SOMEBODY WHO CAN'T END A

FIGHT, SOMEBODY WHO HAS TROUBLE

CONTROLLING HIS TEMPER.

THAT'S PRETTY MUCH ALL HE TALKED

TO HIS BIOGRAPHERS AND IN EARLY

2000.

>> Jon: WHEN HE SPOKE WITH

THEM, HIS BIOGRAPHERS, WAS HE

WEARING A SHIRT?

BECAUSE THE OTHER THING THAT

COMES UP OFTEN IS HE LIKES TO

SHOW HIS OWN NIPPLES.

(LAUGHTER)

AND I... IT'S SURPRISING FOR A

TYRANT.

>> RIGHT WELL T-SHIRTLESS THING

BEGAN A LITTLE LATER.

(LAUGHTER)

THAT BEGAN IN 2005.

>> Jon: I'M SORRY.

I LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU'RE

ADDRESSING ME ON SERIOUS TERMS.

I THINK THAT'S...

(LAUGHTER).

I THINK THAT'S EXCELLENT.

(APPLAUSE)

WHEN IS THE ELECTION?

WHEN IS HIS ELECTION?

>> HIS ELECTION IS ON SUNDAY,

MARCH 4.

>> Jon: WHAT ARE THE ODDS

MAKERS SAYING?

>> HE IS PLANNING TO WIN THE

ELECTION IN THE FIRST ROUND.

(LAUGHTER)

>> Jon: NOW, IS THIS THE FIRST

TIME THAT YOU CAN REMEMBER

PEOPLE TAKING TO THE STREETS IN

NUMBERS TO PROTEST VLADIMIR

PUTIN?

>> YES.

IT'S ACTUALLY UNPRECEDENTED, THE

AMOUNT OF PROTEST.

WE HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING THIS

HUGE SINCE BEFORE THE FALL OF

THE SOVIET UNION.

AND WE HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING

THIS SUSTAINED AND THIS MUCH OF

A STREET MOVEMENT EVER.

>> Jon: DOES THIS DEMYSTIFY

HIM?

IF YOU REMOVE THE CLOAK OF

INVINCIBILITY FROM PUTIN, DOES

HE COLLAPSE?

WILL HE... WHEREVER YOU SEE A

BOOK THAT SAYS "THE UNLIKELY

RISE," YOU ALWAYS KNOW THE NEXT

BOOK IS "THE LIKELY FALL."

>> I HOPE SO.

>> Jon: YOU DO.

SO AFTER... YOU FEEL HE'S... HIS

TYPE OF T +*EURNY... BECAUSE FOR

ME, BOY, TO RETURN TO THOSE COLD

WAR SIMPLE DAYS.

(LAUGHTER)

>> I UNDERSTAND.

WELL, I THINK YOU SHOULD TAKE

THAT OPPORTUNITY NOW BECAUSE I

DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER THIS

IS GOING TO LAST.

>> Jon: YOU THINK HE'S... YOU

REALLY THINK THE CLOCK IS

TICKING ON VLADIMIR PUTIN.

>> I THINK SO.

BECAUSE THE POWER STRUCTURE HE

HAS BUILT RESTS ON FEAR AND

PERSONAL CONNECTIONS AND MONEY

AND THE FEAR IS BEING TAKEN OUT

OF THE EQUATION AND THAT MEANS

THE WHOLE THING WILL COLLAPSE

AND I THINK IT WILL HAPPEN SOON.

>> Jon: HE IS NOT KIND TO HIS

CRITICS AND THERE IS ALL KINDS

OF-- AS WE SAY IN MY LANGUAGE--

MILITIA GOSS THAT GOES ON WITH

PEOPLE THAT WRITE THAT.

WERE YOU TREPIDATIOUS AT ALL TO

TAKE THIS PROJECT ON?

MILITIAS GO.

>> I TRIED TO KEEP IT SECRET

THAT I WAS WORKING ON IT.

>> Jon: OKAY, THIS IS GOING TO

BE ON TELEVISION.

(LAUGHTER)

I'M NOT SUGGESTING THIS AIRS IN

RUSSIA BUT...

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: YOU ARE TALKING TO ME

ON TELEVISION.

>> RIGHT.

I'M AWARE OF THAT.

(LAUGHTER)

AND THE BOOK IS...

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: I JUST WANTED TO LET

YOU KNOW...

>> THE BOOK IS DUE TO BE

PUBLISHED TOMORROW SO I DON'T

THINK I'M GOING TO BE ABLE TO

KEEP A SECRET FOR MUCH LONGER.

>> IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE

MAYBE THIS DOES HELP RETAKE

CRITICAL MASS WHERE YOU

DEMYSTIFY THE DICTATOR TO THE

POINT WHERE HE LOSES HIS POWER.

YOU WRITE A LOT OF ANECDOTES OF

HIS... HIS EARLY LIFE, EVEN THE

WAY THAT HE PROPOSED TO HIS WIFE

IS SO REVELTORY.

>> IT'S AMAZING.

THEY DATED FOR THREE YEARS HIS

WIFE DESCRIBES THE PROPOSAL.

HE SAID TO HER "WELL, WE'VE BEEN

DATING FOR THREE YEARS SO YOU

KNOW THE KIND OF MAN I AM."

AND SHE THOUGHT "WELL, HE'S

CLEARLY BREAKING UP WITH ME."

>> Jon: BECAUSE SHE KNEW WHAT

KIND OF MAN HE WAS!

>> RIGHT.

AND SO SHE SAID "YES, I KNOW

WHAT KIND OF MAN YOU ARE."

HE SAID "IN THAT CASE, I'VE MADE

A DECISION."

AND SHE KNEW HE WAS BREAKING UP

WITH HER AND THAT'S WHEN HE SAID

"LET'S GET MARE NEED A MONTH."

(AUDIENCE REACTS).

>> Jon: AND HE SAID "YOU KNOW

WHAT KIND OF MAN I AM."

AND HE LISTED THE KIND OF MAN HE

IS.

>> RIGHT, NOT A NICE PERSON TO

BE WITH, KIND OF INCONVENIENT,

BAD AT EXPRESSING HIS EMOTIONS,

AS HE WAS DEMONSTRATING.

>> Jon: THIS IS HIS PITCH TO

THE WOMAN HE'S GOING TO MARRY.

(LAUGHTER)

I WONDER IF THE SHIRT WAS ON AT

THAT TIME.

I WONDER IF HE SAID ALL THAT AND

HE SAID OKAY, BUT ON THE PLUS

SIDE... YOU KNOW?

IT IS... IT'S A REMARKABLE

STORY.

WHEN YOU BREAK DOWN A FEARED

LEADER, HUMANIZING THEM IS SUCH

A WEAPON IN A WEIRD WAY.

>> Jon: .

>> WELL, I FOUND IT HARD TO

HUMANIZE HIM.

(LAUGHTER).

>> Jon: YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

BUT REMOVING THEIR CLOAK OF

INVINCIBILITY.

>> RIGHT.

HE'S A SMALL GUY.

HE'S A SMALL GUY IN EVERY SENSE

AND I THINK THAT...

(LAUGHTER).

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: I SHOULD HAVE WARNED

YOU ABOUT AMERICAN AUDIENCES.

WE DON'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT

GEOPOLITICS BUT INEWEN DOE...

(LAUGHTER).

IT REALLY IS AN INCREDIBLE

PORTRAIT OF A LEADER THAT I

THINK WE SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING ON

THE SHOW AND DON'T WORRY.

THIS IS NOT A VERY WIDELY SCENE

PROGRAM.

(LAUGHTER)

SO YOU'RE SAFER THAN YOU

PROBABLY REALIZE.

"THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE: THE

UNLIKELY RISE OF VLADIMIR PUTIN"

IS ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

MASHA GESSEN.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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