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tv   QA William Taubman  CSPAN  October 15, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am EDT

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." after that, theresa may takes questions from members of the house of commons. then scottish national party leader nicola sturgeon speaks at her party's conference. host: william taubman, a book on mikhail gorbachev. prof. taubman: gorbachev changed this country and the world. but neither as much as he wished. it is a story of great achievement and it has, in some ways, a tragic end.
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host: you suggest that in the book, that you spoke with him for an interview as many as eight different days. prof. taubman: yes, my wife and i had eight long interviews with him. and then several other encounters at conferences where i knew he was going to be or he invited me to show up. host: what did you see in person over those eight different interviews, and how many years were between all of those? prof. taubman: the first interview was in 2007. the last was in 2016. what i saw apprised me. he was remarkably natural, informal, warm, humorous. he did not ask questions in advance. he did not insist on having his own interpreter. jane and i speak russian. so we did it ourselves. we recorded it. i have not met that many world leaders, so i can't compare him. but i would be surprised if many of them are as, as i say,
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natural and informal as he was. host: what did you learn from those interviews? prof. taubman: one thing i learned was a sense of him as a person, which i just described. in addition, i had questions that i asked over the course of those eight interviews. i had a strategy. one part of the strategy was to quote 10. i would hold up something he had said and read it and ask him to elaborate or take off from it. the reason was i did not want him to simply repeat what he might have. the other thing was we began at the very beginning with his grandparents. i knew that he would want to talk about his time in power. much, much later. but i had been told he might only grant us one interview. it worked. the first interview took two hours. we'll my got up to 1949. sure enough, we had more. host: what were the years he was
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in power? prof. taubman: he was in power from march 1985, to december 25th, christmas day, 1991. six years. host: i want to go to a chapter near the end called the final days. and the start reading a little bit of it and let you pick up from there. you say that this was august to december of 1991. gorbachev finally began to purchase opponents. fewer did the job for him. one of the conspirators shot his wife and then himself. former armed services chief of staff marshal sir gay, who had broken with the military hardliners to become gorbachev's advisor, but was in dissolution when his boss had cut short his
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vacation, rushed to moscow to support the coup. he confessed in a letter what he did to gorbachev, and said i could no longer live with my fatherland. it is dying. everything i have worked for is destroyed and hanged himself. there is another one here but i will let you pick up. it seems like strong stuff. prof. taubman: it is not only strong stuff, it is very indicative of several important things. on the one hand, it shows how disillusioned within -- with him where people who had worked with him. he had plotted against him in this coup. another joined in the progress. they had been or seem to be hardliners and they were. now they were devastated with the way the whole thing came out. it is also indicative of how much he had trusted people like them who turned against him and betrayed him. which was a devastating for him. everything was devastating for
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him at the end. he was really, in some ways, isolated and alone, both his former supporters had abandoned him and these colleagues who had betrayed him now killed themselves. host: and another one on this list, a man named cucina. he jumped to his death from his apartment window. what role did he play in the coup and why did he take that action? prof. taubman: key have been a business manager for the central community of the communist party. he had been the money man. the man who had the money, passed it to communist parties in the west, or even to terrorist groups and the west which they did nothing money traceable -- which they did not want to be money traceable. god knows what else he did. he felt he was compromised by what he had done and i guess could not face the future. host: at the beginning of the
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chapter, you talk about mrs. gorbachev and the letters, and later, the 25 notebooks mikhail gorbachev. what is that story? prof. taubman: mrs. gorbachev burned at the letters her husband sent to her when she kept a few. i have seen the few she kept. they were wonderfully clear indications of his state of mind. when he was ane young man working in the provinces. he was utterly disillusioned with what he saw there. the way the communist party operated. the way the bureaucrats operated. there must have been more to her they must have been wonderful and she burned them all because she did not want them ever to fall into the hands of the kind of people who had put them under house arrest.
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in the summer of august 1991. he burned notebooks, he kept a lot of notebooks in which in colored ink he entered notes to themselves -- to himself. all of this would have been a gold mine for a biographer. but that pales in comparison to the pain they must have felt as they destroyed this evidence of their lives. host: you mentioned 40's. where is it? prof. taubman: is at the southern tip of the crime area where gorbachev had a beautiful too luxurious villa. he had an advisor who had thought, until he saw the , that gorbachev was a selfless political leader. when you saw this villa, he said it god, this is too much. it has an escalator leading down to the beach. he writes, i was disillusioned by that.
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i followed up on this. i asked gorbachev about this. he said it was designed before i came into power. i am a too, have my own reservations about it. host: why did he use it? prof. taubman: it was something that appalled him in other ways. i suppose, he was a man who rose from humble beginnings, as did his wife. i think one of their weaknesses, of which they had several, was that they were -- they felt they deserved to live well because they were doing so much for their country and had such a cost psychologically to themselves. host: i want to get to the coup in a minute. two things in your book i wanted you to say more about. after he was out of power, you say forbes had a jet for him to travel the united states. prof. taubman: yes. after he was out of power, he made a lot of speeches. he traveled to american cities. i believe he appeared on your program and many others. he did this to continue to spread this message to the
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world. he thought it was relevant as well as to his own country. but also to make money. partly for himself, but also to support his foundation. when he retired, he had a presidential library built. the government paid for it, i believe, probably raised money privately, tivoli. gorbachev received no support from the government. they let him alone. he had to raise money to create it, build a, staff building for it. it did a lot of good work, charitable, and enlightenment and in -- and educational. he didn't did money for that. host: you say ted turner gave him $1 million?
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to do what? prof. taubman: to build a building for the foundation after the first building, which the government let him use, for a wild. i think less than one year. it was taken away. boris succeeded him as president. yeltsin had granted him the building of -- on the condition that gorbachev would not criticize him. gorbachev could not keep quiet. after yeltsin bombarded the parliaments with weapons and after inflation boomed and unemployment grew, gorbachev started criticizing him very severely and yells and got mad and took away his toys. host: i want to show you visio -- video of a press conference he had at the end of the coup attempt and have you talk about the queue. [video clip] >> a number of people came and demanded a meeting with me. i do not know about such meetings. no one warned me about it. and why these people were here. the head of mike darda said he
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knew about it, and i said why did you let them through? he told me the head of the kgb and administration of them. host: he is speaking, obviously, at a press conference. he is talking about what happened when the coup attempt was underway. can you explain what the coup is all about and what were these -- these circumstances when they try to do this? prof. taubman: the coup occurred in august, 1991. gorbachev had gone on vacation. he was dead tired. his wife had said, let's go. the agreed to go. in retrospect, this was foolish. machiavelli would have told him not to leave town. because when a top leader who was besieged with critics leave town, they have an opening. they see -- they seized it. they sent a delegation to his villa on the black sea and they put him under house arrest. they confronted him with an ultimatum.
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either you agree with what we are about to do, which was to crush the very program gorbachev was carrying out and reverse his policies -- these policies, or you stay under house arrest. he refused to do what they wanted to do. they went back to moscow to figure out what to do in his absence. he remained under house arrest. for two or three days until in moscow, people, tens of thousands came out on the street to protect his cause. yeltsin climbed up on a tank and mobilized the resistance and the plotters gave up and returned to release him. he put them under arrest. host: where was yeltsin at the time of the coup attempt and whose side was he on? prof. taubman: when the coup attempt began was in the capital of kazakhstan. hugh flew back to moscow.
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and for some reason, probably because the coup plotters turned out to be the keystone cops, they failed to arrest him. my theory is that they hoped to get him to join them against gorbachev. but he refused. he instead went to the white house, as it was called. the seat of the russian government. at this point, russia was still part of the soviet union. he mobilized resistance. he forded the coup. the fact that they thought he might be a willing participant goes to show how angry and hostile gorbachev he was to -- he was to gorbachev at that time. he was one of the 15 republics
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of the soviet union. by that time, the baltics were breaking away and others were breaking away, too. host: back to the coup. how did they do it? how many people were involved? how many people -- security did mr. gorbachev have and pain that picture more. prof. taubman: this delegation from moscow, which included the chief of the armed forces, gorbachev's chief of staff and others arrived at his. check. by the time they entered, they had replaced the guards, most of the guards around the complex. with their own people. they had put trucks or buses blocking the road. apparently, he had about 35 other personal bodyguards whom they did not replace. those bodyguards remained loyal to him. one of the questions that has risen about this whole coup is why didn't he mobilize his bodyguards against the guards whom the plotters had brought? some of the speculation comes from a plotter -- plotters themselves who claimed falsely,
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in my view, that gorbachev was part of the plot. there are a couple of other historians who have speculated that gorbachev was part of the plot. this, to me, is totally false. the reason i believe it is false is that if he had tried to mobilize his guards against those guards, there surely would have been a fire fight. in that fire fight, he and possibly his wife, and his daughter and granddaughters who were there, may have been killed. they did not have to be killed for him to want to avoid this. because what happened during the coup was that she, without that, , and he was deeply devoted to her, and he surely would have known that to be part of a coup against himself would
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have led to something like that. it is interesting that i think the best evidence we have against this, that he was involved, is his relationship with his wife. he never would have done that. host: what was she like? prof. taubman: his wife? most people watching will remember her. she was lovely, smart, she was sophisticated. she was an intellectual. she was a professor of philosophy, she was also rather didactic and humorless. she made, in some circles, a wonderful impression. the soviet first lady to look like one and behave like one. she really antagonize people, including soviet women who thought, who the hell unelected her? nobody. to be her -- his advisor. the other person she antagonized was nancy reagan who cannot stand her. and with whom it she had several colorful clashes which i was very careful to include in my
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book. host: from 1987, here is mrs. corbett -- mrs. gorbachev and mrs. reagan at the white house. [video clip] >> it is an official house. i would say that a human being would like to live [indiscernible] and indeed it is like a museum. host: there is the chemistry. prof. taubman: that is one of the scenes i describe in the book. when nancy talks about the white house as a museum -- sorry, when she talks about the white house looking like a museum, nancy thinks to herself, she has not been upstairs where we live. at another point, nancy wants to show her a portrait of richard nixon on the wall.
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right he said, who has some sense of great art is interested. she wants to talk about the other art, which in her view, is greater art. she wants to go on. and nancy touches her arm and wants to pull her further into the white house. and she says no, i want to talk to the press. when they meet in moscow, nancy turns the tables on her and does the same thing. she wants to leave nancy on, and nancy says no, i want to talk to the press. host: what was the relationship with mrs. gorbachev after she had the stroke? what happened between the year she had the stroke in the year when she died, 1999? what was her lifelike than? prof. taubman: she died of leukemia which was not diagnosed until 1999. she was game. she continued to play the role of no longer first lady, but the
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wife, she would travel with him. all of his troubles. -- travels. either hot -- key, she, or her daughter. when he ran for president of russia in 1996, which i'm afraid was a fools errand because he ended up getting less than 1% of the vote, but he campaigned like crazy. she, who had never gotten over the injury of that stroke, she could function. but she was not herself anymore. she was scarred by all the criticism coming his way. she dragged herself with him to all the 20 cities on that campaign. she was with him when they would not let him speak at a hall on one occasion when one of his critics spat in his face. this must have been torture for her as well as for him. host: what did you find out from him about the way he felt about the public he used to lead turning on him?
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prof. taubman: he trusted the rut -- the soviet people. he trusted them to follow him where they had never gone before. that is, to democratize their country. he trusted them to follow him as he moved to the country toward a market economy. from a command economy. he trusted them to follow him and trust him as he made peace in the cold war against the ancient enemy, the united states. he trusted them to build much -- too much. they turned against him. they had good reasons, economic conditions crashed, they lost their empire which meant a lot up -- a lot to some of them. the soviet union became dutch began coming apart at the seams. by the time he was ousted, he had few supporters. that pained him immensely.
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host: when did the soviet union become the soviet union? prof. taubman: 1922, 1923. the soviet union replaced soviet union -- russia which replace the russian empire. host: why? prof. taubman: lennon wanted to set up more than a nationstate. he wanted to set up an international stage. he believed that all of these countries, former countries, coming together would form a kind of colonel of the world he wanted to see come about in the end. nations joining together in the spirit of proletarian internationalism. there was an element of compulsion and force. some were forced to join. others were given the idea of independence. the national anthem, a parliament. sometimes a foreign minister. but it was phony because the real power was in the hands of the communist party which was
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quickly centralized. host: the language, i want to run a clip of mr. gorbachev when he came in for the interview and the question had to do, can you speak english? >> do you understand english? >> to some extent, yes. when one meets with people often and when you talk about things as you would translate it being translated, you begin to learn. it is a teaching process. host: language or you said you and your wife speak russian. tell us what jane, your wife's involvement was and your research part? prof. taubman: jane speaks better russian than i do. she taught russian for 50 years in amherst college.
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-- talked --taught politics and history. we have different vocabulary. i have a political vocabulary in russian. she has a general vocabulary. put me in a garden, i am speechless. she knows about the garden. and we spoke with gorbachev, i understood a lot but not all. she understood almost all, but not all. there was one funny moment when he was describing a garden. he was describing what was growing in his grandfather's garden as he grew up as a boy in southern russia. jane did not know the word for -- jane, may i ask you? >> cherry pond. prof. taubman: two did not know the russian word for cherry plum. gorbachev said see, your russian is not perfect. he gave her a short was in in the vocabulary for cherry plums
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and other related plants. host: how much english did he understand? prof. taubman: i do not think he understood much. host: what difference does that make an international relations and how many of the world leaders speak english? prof. taubman: a lot of them speaking wish. especially today. the russians did not. i think after all the years of jousting is foreign minister with every american secretary of state spoke a lot of english. not gorbachev. when i wanted to convince him to support me in writing his biography, i sent him a copy of my book in english. was timet but when it to read it, he turned to the russian translation. i must say, i was nervous when i encountered him and he came up to me and patted me on the arm and said, good, solid book, he said in russian.
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which i took as sufficient praise from a man who i later learned is somewhat chary about phrasing of the people. host: about 14 years ago, you and i did two one hour program on your other book. it is available in our archive. if you want to catch up with what you were saying back then. prof. taubman: can i take a moment to tell your audience with my website is? it is i will not go on about it. host: did you record your interviews or did you write it out? prof. taubman: we recorded them. we recorded them on a portable tape recorder and then we started recording them on an ipad and a cell phone. we transcribed them all. i could not catch every word. host: what are you going to do with all that? prof. taubman: i don't know. i'm certainly saving them. it has been suggested by somebody that they could become a program or radio program or television program or a book. of course, i do not have gorbachev's permission to do use
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them for anything but interviews for my book. i would have to look into that. i should add there is going to be a russian edition of my book. when he got a copy, which i sent him of the english edition, he sent back and said i thank you from my heart, but i will not give you my impressions of your book until i read the russian edition. now i am waiting for those impressions. host: he is 86 years old. here is an interview he did with bbc last year. one of the things you notice is his different appearance. [video clip] [speaking russian]
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host: what happened -- he has gained a lot of weight. prof. taubman: he has had various medical problems. i do not know them all. i presume some of them have required being treated with medication which may have bloated his face. he has lost more than a step. he is a man who used to walk 20 kilometers at a drop of a hat. now he uses a cane. he lifts himself from a chair with great difficulty. he still has got it up here. that quote in that interview was interesting. he was going back and remembering his fall from power. and the possibility that he could have attempted to mobilize
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the army on his behalf to save him and the soviet union. and he declined to do so. this was one of the wonderful things about him. he gave up power with dignity. he did not use force. he always tried to resist using force. he did not want to shed blood. host: if you took a poll in russia today or in the entire 15 countries of the sows -- of the soviet union and a pole and the united states, how would he rank in those two different places? prof. taubman: i'm afraid in russia, and i presume and most of the old soviet union, he would rank low. i would be guessing, but i would say maybe a positive rating of 30% at most. in this country, i don't know, i would say 67 -- 60%, 70%, maybe
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more. he is a man who is beloved in the rest of the world but despised by too many in his own land. host: what are we missing? looking at russia, what is it other than -- you mentioned the economy. what else did they not want that he was bringing to? prof. taubman: they were a superpower. for 10 years after the they left, they were a train wreck. they had not only an economy that was in decent enough's cheap to support them, but they had decent medical care and social security and things like that. now, much of it has been privatized and a lot of people cannot afford it. they have lost an empire. not everybody loves an empire. but they had one and they lost it.
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some of them miss it. one other element i think is although they loved gorbachev in the beginning because he followed three dead men walking, their former leaders, who were all sick and died, they loved him for his vigor, or his energy, for his articulate this as well as his program. after a while, they decided he talked too much. too long. band officially, and in his desire to explain himself, he was weak. so many of them like a strong hand leader in they have one now in putin and that helps explain some of his overwhelming popularity. brian: i am going to put on the lenin from when vladimir took over. if you can give us a little bit on each one so we can put it in perspective.
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for those on the radio, you have five years with london, 19 years --h stolen, two years with 19 years with stalin. with ma >> well, let's see. a genius at seizing power. where his own creed, marxism. stalin was a-- brutal dictator. he raised up, help them win the war at an incredible price. 27 million killed. weak, only there for
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one year or so. khrushchev, full of colorful, profound, trying to make amends for his own guilty association in.h stal thrown out for being too erratic. brezhnevnd then -- pretty cited. he chaired the meetings rather than try to dominate them. wasept power but under him stagnation in the soviet union. orion: if i was a student and russian high school and getting history, what are they telling me about those early leaders? who is up and who is down? guest: putin does not want a revolution against himself. n did anows that stali
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lot of terrible things and he is willing to admit that. but on the other hand,, stalin wanted more. i think putin admires that. khrushchev, i think putin probably did not admire much. put in the leadership of the khrushchevalin, and backed out of the conversations of that sort. probably i think putin admires him. a lot of russians admire brezhnev because this was before the collapse and before the time.of the yeltsin i think putin probably tiptoes around brezhnev. andropov, he might have been a strong hand leader.
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he was the head of the kgb. in some ways putin may model himself on andropov. alenko, probably no attention paid to him whatsoever. --otech of, putin says the -- putin, porten says says that was a disaster. although he has left them alone and has not arrested him even know he has been no great fan of putin, i don't think putin is a great fan of gorbachev. kept his word, did not reveal the dirty laundry in putin's closet. that was yeltsin. on the other hand, yeltsin is uppermost in people's mind of the day from those years.
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putin praises yeltsin but not too much. brian: if you asked mr. gorbachev today when he was proud of, what would he say? i know you say was up and down, where z now? >> the last thing i saw him say was critical. in april 2017, he was asked if he weather's still putin, hetill trusts said yes. i know gorbachev believes a certain amount of authoritarianism was needed to put the country back together after the yeltsin years but he was mistaken and thinking gorbachev would allow the nation to democratize. that has not turned out to be the case. i think orbotech was torn about putin. very critical. gorbachev wasink
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torn about putin. i think at the age of 86 he would still like to have influence so therefore, politician that he is still, he speaks carefully about the president. brian: talk about the gorbachev foundation for a moment. have you ever seen where the money comes from? well, i wasubman: not there but was part of the transaction. i think it is been charged and admitted he charged over $100,000 for lectures all around the world. united states, europe, germany. there are some very wealthy americans who i gathered wanted to help him and and invited him to do lectures. he did this for many years and made it a lot of money for the foundation. probably in a lot of places. andturner helped him out
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building the foundation in which the structure now exists. that is what i know about. brian: you said his daughter was of the gorbachev foundation. tell us about her. prof. taubman: very smart, uniform. she was very loyal one ray said died. -- when raised the gorbachev died -- when mrs. gorbachev died. we're told she spends a lot of time in germany these days. devastating must be to him. to be left alone with bodyguards and cooks and chauffeurs in a villa on the outskirts of moscow. i'm sure she comes to visit him but i've heard from friends of his that he has reconciled himself to this because she, the reason she moved to germany a
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part from medical reasons for her husband is that she could not take any more invective against him, which had been flung at him for all the shows. she just cannot take it anymore. it is a sign of how he has steeled himself to his fate that he continues to take it. he could've lived in germany. he could've lived in the united states. but he stayed in his country and received the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. the governmentut of russia and the support they are giving him now? any? taubman: i cannot really say for a fact but i don't know. i cannot say any. 11-yourhis is an project as you told us 10 years ago. the khrushchev was 20 years.
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prof. taubman: i did it twice as fast, if you can call 20 years fast. i could go back but i think i would rather find another project. i do not have one yet but i am looking. russia, all the people you write about, who would be the most interesting besides khrushchev and gorbachev. : well that isman the problem. i like to write about political leaders. if you can figure out about them as leaders, you can figure out what they did to their countries and part. i thought of brezhnev but i do not think he was interesting enough as an individual. i may be wrong. i thought of putin but i'm not sure i have the guts to do that and i am probably too old. brian: what you say that? prof. taubman: well, because putin does not like it when
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people look too far into his life in some of them and up in a bad way when they do. brian: do really think you would come after you? prof. taubman: no, it is probably a fantasy of an older biographer looking for another project to think somebody would care enough about what he is doing to go after him. brian: why do you think you stayed in power for so long? professor taubman: he is shrewd, tough. he takes no prisoners. he is a veteran of the kgb. he is seen of this world and therefore he does not rank from whatever needs to be done to hang on to power. i think gorbachev's problem and part is that he did shrink from some of the things he did to stay on to power. -- vladimir putin has read machiavelli. he measures is words. he can be profane.
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he can say some awful things to give pause to people who might think of moving against him. orbotech was much more of a diplomat. polite. a gorbachev was much more of diplomat, polite. and a feed of the endurance as well as intellect, i don't know. not -- iverage i do don't think he could possibly have enough on paper and front of him to answer all of those questions and yet he does. putin is smart. it is a feat of an dear its, his annual meeting. what does that tell people except your strong intellectually, physically. you can and your. so the way it is a feat that gives pause to his enemies if they need pause. which they don't, because he is shown them enough other ways
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that he is strong and tough. brian: in doing your book, where did you travel? tof. taubman: we traveled moscow and southern russia north of the town where over chat -- gorbachev was born. village.all we walked along the road which passed the land where his father and grandfather had a house up from a river. we went back to times. with gorbachev's help we met people and were introduced to his former associates, friends, and colleagues. we interviewed them with our length.order at some were ousted we go? actually, no we went to other cities -- >> did you go to --
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prof. taubman: i would've like to go but that is now a dachau and i don't think we would've been allowed to. we did not find anybody in the village that met him. well let me take up back. we went to his high school and we met a high school kid who had been a classmate of him and he told us a bit about her but jeff -- gorbachev as a student, and extraordinarily strong did, a kid who dared fight back to teachers. the most interesting testimony about mikael gorbachev as a schoolboy came from someone who who metmeet him but others. his former girlfriend commented on how he would go up to
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teachers and challenge or percent to explain things he had not understood in class. the most interesting thing she recalled was how on one occasion he chastised her for doing a bad newspaperg "the wall" and then 10 minutes later asked her to the movies and she said, how can you do this? how can you tell me up done a bad job and then asked me on a date? and he answered, these are two entirely different smears of activity. of activity.res to me, it was interesting because it showed itself confidence. even verging on arrogance. he and his father won the two highest medals the soviet union could offer for breaking records and harvesting grain on a combine. when he went off to moscow university, he really took off
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his metal as a way of showing his fellow students that this institution, he was no country bumped in the even though that was the way you start them initially. >> i want to show you first and at that mr. orbotech did with gorbachev did with his granddaughter. " gorbachev -- >> [speaking russian]
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>> sometimes nothing brings people together like a nice hot pizza from pizza hut. clip] deo professor taubman: i love that video. brian: 25 years ago if you went --a it's a height and moscow if you went to a pizza hut in moscow there were different doors -- why did they do that? prof. taubman: foreigners had dollars and russians did not. different doors. brian: what was russia like at the time mr. gorbachev was in charge?
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prof. taubman: it is a different world and many respects. there are tall skyscrapers. some are business buildings. others are luxurious apartment complexes. there is a traffic jam that makes new york city look like peoria. it used to be u.k. get somebody to take you across town and 15 north 20 minutes. now you have to go on the metro otherwise you will sit in traffic forever. time, peoples still looked the way they had looked in earlier years. like russians and somewhat drab close. you could walk down the street and tell who was a russian into was a foreigner by their shoes. if you were wearing jeans, you would likely be approached by people who wanted to buy them. now everything is for sale at hype prices. in gorbachev's years there were still lines at stores for luxury
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goods. now there are supermarkets. it is a modern world city. people travel. there is one thing you have to say for the putin regime. it is not a totalitarian regime. people can travel, they can see what they want within limited circles. there is one newspaper which gorbachev's people owns which speaks the truth without fear or favor. there is one radio station on which anything can be said. there is a city that differs from both orbotech's time and -- gorbachev's time and before. it is less russian in the sense it used to be russian. tombs lenin still in a right there on these square? >> probably because it would be too embarrassing and complicated to bury him elsewhere.
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you would have to start explaining him. what he did, why he did it, why he is in the tomb, why you are taking them out. a lot of people would not let -- like various aspects of that. so just let him stay there. brian: how long will vladimir putin stay in charge of the country? prof. taubman: well let's see, he changed the constitution so that he has a sick share term if he is reelected. everyone is is summing he will be elected. that means he will be in power from 2000-2024. there was a four-year interval when he was not president. his sidekick was president. it turned out putin was thenating those years and other quickly bowed out when his term ended. if i can go back to counting up
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stalin's years, i think that is not right. brian: 29 years. 29 so, putin would come close to of an achievement in both a positive and negative sense. mouth, and yours. math, not -- my yours. stalin now?
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prof. taubman: putin moved him in the dark of night under armed guard. it will him was written about it. stalin otherwise? a poll that said he was the second most popular leader in the eyes of russians, that years ago.ight or 10 you still encounter little statuettes of him on the dashboards of taxis or on buses he goes he was strong, soviet union was strong, and people think in retrospect that at least they had enough to eat and they could buy it and it was cheap. i'm afraid history does strange things to memory as time goes by. some people look better, some worse.
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stalin has gone down and up again and will probably go down again. brian: here's some video up youtube. it speaks for itself. [video clip] ♪ [laughter] brian: what impact did he have on that country? boris yeltsin was a complicated, difficult man. be anhev lifted him up to ally.
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gorbachev bothst because he wanted power and because he wanted to go farther was going.hev so they quarreled and it was a bitter mutual enmity. one wonders looking back, if they had only remained partners, could they have triumphed in the end as partners, leaders of a democratic soviet union? and if they could not remain partners, it was partly gorbachev's fault, partly yeltsin's fault. then yeltsin became the boss, the resident. he did some good things when russian television mocked him -- doy -- he allowed them to so. a new russian press mocked him, he allowed them to do so. nearlyalso reigned over 10 euros of chaos or at least five or six years of them and by the time he left office in 1999,
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russia was in bad shape. putin thought it needed putin and so yeltsin's legacy on top of everything else is putin. he gave him putin. brian: did our leaders think of boris yeltsin? taubman: there is a good book called "the russian hand" about how clinton interacted with yeltsin over the years. yeltsin reminded me of christian of and when khrushchev -- of khrushchev and when khrushchev acted like that he scared the hell out of kennedy. risen -- reason khrushchev and nuclear weapons but clinton did not. i think clinton, christian
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reminded clinton of himself. they both had fathers who beat them. they both grabbed the hand of the father who beat them and told them to stop. they both had gigantic appetites. clinton rolled with the punches, which clinton never did with -- which kennedy never did with christian. thought -- yeltsin would not did out of the car in the white house driveway until condoleezza rice promised him a meeting with bush. he did not get it right away. like you saw ways on tv. but then boris yeltsin calmed down and bush finally decided yeltsin was the future of
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russia, he would go farther than average of toward democratizing -- go further than gorbachev in democratizing russia and would hold it together. 86 years old. when he gets to the end of his life, how do you think the russians will treat him? there is always a big ceremony at the end of somebody's life compared to write the rest of the world would do. feel taubman: they will that are about him in the initial aftermath of his passing. they did not like his wife but when she died they said some lovely things about her. so i think there will be a time of fondness and nostalgia, and he will probably get a modicum of ceremony from the government. he will not get, i think, the despiteors that
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everything he deserves. brian: which book was harder, the khrushchev book or the gorbachev book? the pheasant prof. taubman: what you are comparing here is a dead leader in the live leader as a subject. khrushchev was harder because there were a few people around who knew him. he was no longer around to interview. it would have been wonderful to interview khrushchev. or which have was around and -- gorbachev was around and i learned a lot by interviewing him. a lot of people who knew him were still around. but -- there is a but -- some people were reluctant to talk about him, i suspect the cozy is still alive and they might have been at least partly critical of him i suspect. but the people still alive with khrushchev work willing to be devastating about him because he was still around -- because he
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was no longer around. so it was a mixed bag but i love doing both. chev: the book is "orbit : theife in times -- brian book is "orbit shove -- and times the life are co- ♪ announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q& q and a programs are also available as c-span podcasts. boko -- ♪ >> if you enjoyed this week's
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q&a interview, here are some other programs you might like. judy shelton on the economic problems that led to the collapse of the soviet union. of a book about ronald reagan "last act." search our entire library at c-span's washington journal, live each morning with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, we talk about hollywood and the democratic party. then a look at lobbying during the trump administration. and, how the federal government wildfires.o combat who will take your calls and comments. washingtonwatch journal live at 7:00 eastern
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monday morning. join the discussion. night at the national press go, discussion with the executive editors that the washington post and new york times. they will talk about the first amendment, the media, and president trump's statements about press freedom. live coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> tuesday, we are live in jefferson city, missouri, for the next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitals for. j ashcroft will be our guest on the bus during washington journal starting at 8:00 a.m. eastern. >> on wednesday, british prime minister theresa may fielded questions on domestic issues including the credit program, mental health, and the deadline for brexit negotiations. this is 45 minutes.


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