Luke Harding, a journalist and the author of “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win,” explains why he believes Vladimir Putin may secretly be one of the richest people in the world. Following is a transcript of the video.
Luke Harding: I think the thing people need to understand about Russia is that Russia is not Vladimir Putin.
My name is Luke Harding. I’m a journalist and a writer, and my new book is called “Collusion,” and it’s about Donald Trump and Russia.
Russia is a great country of 142 million people, clever people, people that read books, who like theater. It’s got a fantastic musical tradition.
But what’s happened in the kind of post-Soviet era is that it’s been hijacked by a group of basically KGB people, who have captured the state and run it for their own purposes. And who, by the way, have got fantastically rich. They’re some of the richest people that have ever, kind of, walked the planet.
And so Russia is a sophisticated, postmodern kind of kleptocracy run by someone who — wishes America ill and is determined that Russia will prevail everywhere.
And I just think that Americans should be aware that there’s another Russia out there but at the same time, be wary, very wary of the current leadership.
So my previous book before “Collusion” was called “A Very Expensive Poison.” And it was about a Russian dissident called, Alexander Litvinenko, who was famously murdered in 2006 with a radioactive cup of tea, poured by two assassins sent by the Kremlin to kill him. He was a vehement critic about Vladimir Putin. He was very rude about him and his reward was this really horrible, lingering public death.
That case was properly investigated by the British authorities who concluded that Putin had probably approved the operation.
But there are many other murders that go on inside Russia of other regime opponents, which are never fully investigated. I’m thinking of people like Boris Nemtsov shot dead in 2015, 300 meters away from the Kremlin. And he was a famous opposition activist.
This is what the KGB used to do during the Cold War. They would kill people inside the Soviet Union and also abroad who they perceived as being traitors.
When you’re trying to kind of conceptualize “What is modern Russia?,” of course it’s a state but also it’s a kind of a mafia syndicate that uses mafia methods to snuff out its enemies and to get its way both inside its borders and outside its borders.
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