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Question Time for Kasparov

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John Henderson sends this in: "Garry Kasparov will be appearing on BBC TV's famed political debate show Question Time at 22.35 GMT tonight (BBC1). He appears as part of a panel of politicians and experts answering audience questions on this famous, long-running British TV show which has relocated to Moscow for the occasion. Kasparov gets star billing ahead of British and Russian government ministers. I know Douglas Alexander very well - and also his sister, Wendy, who is the Scottish MSP for Paisley. If you click the video link on the righthand side, Question Time can be watched for a full week after the show."

Sure, but it's politics, not chess. So to chess up this item a bit, toss in your own chess questions for Garry below. To avoid redundancy it would help if you read his recent ChessCafe interview first (Link to PDF because of their bizarre system of rotation with no permanent html link), and his New In Chess columns. His upcoming NIC column is all about Linares, of course, with some mentions of Amber. Impressions and questions about Volume 5 of My Great Predecessors would be interesting to hear. I was amazed by all the stories and interviews with Karpov's seconds and other contemporaries. You can have a good time reading it straight through without even going over the games.


Would someone please tape this and encode it to *.avi and publish it one the edonkey/emule net? As it's television, there's no copyright problems, so it's completely legal. Please? ;o))

Forgive me for overstating the obvious, but this (debate)is something that should be followed. Thanks Mig for making us aware of this.

You better not encode this program you will be breaking five laws dictated by the global regulations, setup in clause eight, section four, page 4564, of the distrubtion of digital material.

You are not allowed to copy protected works. You will be persecuted and fined heavily if you think you can get away with such childish thoughts.


Albrecht, you can watch this program at BBC Question Time site (marked as "video. Latest program"):

As to the debate itself, Garry was impressive but predicable. One can state once again that his views being consistent and close to mainstream liberal thinking in the West are considered as marginal by the current Russian standards. Let me add that this program is not going to be shown in Russian TV - only very few in Russia can see it at BBC World.


If someone couldn't tape a TV-show for me, then, by the same logic, neither I would be allowed to tape music from radio. As I AM allowed to do the latter (taping music from radio is definitely within the law), I would tend to believe that I'm also allowed to do the former. I think there's a difference between radio/TV and movies.

But anyway - I'll have a look at that link...

My Mum (non chess Mum) watched it and she was overwhelmingly impressed with the Russian's standard of spoken english, which was better in her estimation than most british people's.

I watched the program and thought kaspy acquitted himself quite well. He looked pretty bemused a lot of the time- the other panelists weren't afraid of towing there respective ideologies into ridiculous extremes.

It's been a year now since he quit chess and went into politics full time. Can anyone in the know shed any light on how it's going for him? Mig?

Regarding Albrecht von der Lieth's request for someone to record and then publish the broadcast, it's the distribution portion of his request that is illegal. While it's OK for an individual to record it for their own use, it's the publication/distribution of the content that infringes on copyright laws.

I watched the broadcast in it's entirety last night and I thought that while Kasparov seemed a tad combative at times (for the most part appropriately so), he raised exactly the point that made him decide to enter politics; Russia is not an actual democracy, and that Communists are still in control of most aspects of government. For instance, the broadcast itself was from Moscow, yet it was censored from viewership in most of Russia. Those who watched the broadcast might have received the impression that this was a fairly open discussion, but in reality it was propaganda for the West's consumption.

It would help Garry's cause if he prepared a clearer method or wording for his message. In the US, goverment officials (beginning in earnest with Reagan) learned methods for "feeding" stances or topics to the media, who, being owned by corporations or businesses with profit motives, tend to distort messages to their ends. Until he and his party learn how to get a clear message out, along with how they intend to remedy Putin's efforts to "control" democratization efforts, I think he'll remain perceived as being on the fringe. Garry is very good at learning, studying and improving, so if he sticks with it I feel certain he'll eventually acheive a degree of success.

noyb, I'm beating the dead horse here as I watched it per link given above, but still...

If I was at work and therefore can't tape this or that TV-show, surely I could ask my girlfriend, daughter, neighbour, guy at work who has a programmable VCR etc., can't I? What's the difference of asking someone from across the ocean?
I did ask someone some time ago to tape a movie for me that was broadcast on TV in the States and he then send me a DVD with it. He seemed to know what he was doing and said it was legal.

So, would it have been legal if I had asked for sending it per email?

(again, sorry for the off-topic...)

Regarding the debate, I'm in agreement with noyb, who expressed it much better than I could have. Gary is knowledgeable, no doubt about it, but in my mind comes across a little too fiery. I know that's his nature, but in the political arena he may want to tone it down somewhat, or come across as confrontaional. Also, he has a tendency to play to the grandstand with overreactive expressions of disbelief too often. In politics, there's more to winning votes than just presenting a point of view that you passionately believe in.

Garry has a difficult road ahead of him. After numerous decades of being a closed society, I personally don't believe that the majority of the Russian people are ready to entirely donate their national sovereignty to western principles (not that Garry is asking them to).

I did enjoy the Russian's Deputy Foreign Minister of Affairs and the Motherland representative remarks about not being interested in becoming a super power to influence world politics (in so many words). Speaking about the Motherland representative, what was that all about and why did Garry let himself get so emotionally involved with her on a couple of different occasions?

I too thought Garry came across as more combative, aggressive, and emotional than the other panelists. Whether that is good or bad is open for debate..

I think in his life philosophy Garry believes in "fighting", and this
attitude was pretty clear in the debate. Will Garry need to adopt a more sober tone at times? We'll see...

"undercomplex" is the description that came to my mind.

It simply seems too easy if you say stuff like "All Putin cares about is the Oil price." Though that might well be true (I don't know and have no means of judging), it's simply a way of stating things that begs for responses of the kind "yeah, riiiight..." It's too easy, well, just undercomplex. :o)

noyb, why you believe that "Communists are still in control of most aspects of (Russian) government"? Not at all. It is bureaucrats along with "siloviki" turned into oligarchs who are in charge in Russia at the moment. In ideological terms they are rather indifferent. Although they are happy to use anti-western sentiments with an appeal to the past super-power.

Then, why you consider the debate as "propaganda for the West's consumption"? It was produced by BBC, not by Russian TV. The panel (selected by BBC) included just one official and three members of opposition of different kinds including Garry. Note that the BBC program aimed at Western (mainly British) audience and was in English. So why on earth the Russian TV should broadcast it inside Russia? This has nothing to do with censorship or democracy. This does not mean that there is a real democracy in Russia. The problem is not that that BBC program is not broadcast in Russia. The real problem is that there is no chance of debate with the same panel in Russian TV.

As to Kasparov, I can repeat that as a politician he remains to be a very marginal figure. The only way to advance his status is to be a regular on the main channels of Russian TV. He is not allowed. In addition, his reputation in moderate political circles (even liberal) is not good. Even for many pro-western people he looks too radical, too pro-american, prone to extremism. Some his past endeavours doesn't help. He changed a lot of political movements for last 15 years - with no success at all. His passion for so-called "New Chronology" got a very bad publicity among many influential intellectualls (now he does not speaks about it but the damage's done). Personally, I think his political image is much worse than it should be. But this is a reality. At the moment he is not a serious player in Russian messy political scene.

Chesstraveler: I can answer your question "Speaking about the Motherland representative, what was that all about and why did Garry let himself get so emotionally involved with her on a couple of different occasions?" I believe Garry knows a lot more than you about that "Motherland representative". That Dr. Narochnitskaya did look as quite moderate in the debate. However, in Russia she is very well-known as having extreme nationalistic anti-liberal and anti-western views.


I never thought for any a length of time that she presented herself as a "moderate", quite the contrary. I also believe that I never purported in any way that I knew more about her, ( or any of the other panelists for that matter) than Gary. I don't know where you came up with that evaluation.

My point was that he would have come across better had he responded more diplomatically, with her (what I considered) extreme ideological content, than becoming so emotionally involved. These were only some suggestions that I observed as weaknesses in Garry's public presentation, nothing more.

I'm certainly not asking that you agree with any of my viewpoints regarding this debate, but I sure in the hell will express them!

Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin: apparatchik, constantly soft-pedaling, attempting to smother wellfounded criticism in a blanket of generalities

Industrialist Igor Yurgens: unsentimental pragmatist, with an unwavering eye on the bottom line

Natalia Narochnitskaya of the Motherland Party: scary battleaxe, a reptilian presence, can easily imagine her as an officer in the NKVD

British foreign minister Douglas Alexander MP: a creature of New Labour, career politician with no convictions of his own

Chess champion-turned-politician Garry Kasparov: I was waiting for someone in the audience to hold up a placard with a photo of Teimour Radjabov, that would have sent him from ballistic all the way into near-earth orbit. Out of place, out of time and out of sorts.

Economist Andrei Illarionov: far and away the best panelist, knowledgeable, soft-spoken, and humane. That the likes of him are sidelined in Russia is a tragedy; no other word for it.

H L M,

Excellent evaluations of the panelists. My favorite panelist by far was Andrei Illarionov, and if what you say about his being marginalized is true (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) that is a shame. Narochinitsksya made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Her "reptilian" presence notwithstanding, Natalia Narochnitskaya did make a very valid point. The UN charter is not an advertisement for democracy per se, but for the ability for each member to decide on their own method of government provided that it not violate any precept of said charter.

"Correct" forms of government tend to be dictated by the dominant power of the time. Times come and pass and hopefully "better" forms of government continue to present themselves.

Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant.

Hello Albrecht von der Lieth - Good questions... I am not a lawyer but I was inspired to contact a friend who is (US copyright law only). By the letter of US law, one individual may not make a copy and then give it to a friend. Technically, doing this denies the originator of the broadcast the monies they would have received, since the 2nd party, failing to have taped or made a copy from the original themselves, would have been forced to pay the originator of the broadcast. In most instances, the law in enforced only when there is mass-scale abuse, i.e. bootlegging 100's or 1,000's of copies of a movie. Law enforcement is generally not as avid in their pursuit of limited cases of infringement. That having been noted, international laws can vary substancially as not all countries have enacted similar copyright laws (perhaps most noteably China). The issue becomes further clouded in the case of use of the internet for distribution as this is a relatively new methodology. Most international judicial systems are hastening to enact laws covering this methodology.

Valchess - Regarding whether Communists still control Russia... I'll limit the support for this observation by stating that if you watched the debate in it's entirely, the government officials (former and current) on the panel themselves observed that this is essentially the case. This is in fact why Kasparov chose to enter the political arena, to represent this view nationally and abroad.

Chesstraveler, I am sorry if I misinterpreted your remark about Dr. Narochnitskaya. Please don't take my reply so personally - I was just trying to answer your immediate question. I can repeat that Narochnitskaya looked quite moderate by her standards. It turned out that you didn't think so. However, there is no need to demonise her as you (she "made the hear stand up on the back of my neck") and H L M ("a reptilian presence", "can easily imagine her as a officer in the NKVD") did. She is by no means that vicious adversary Rosa Klebb from James Bond's "From Russia with Love" - despite her utterly anti-liberal and anty-western views she is a respectable politician and is not a marginal figure in the Russian political context.

I understand that people here evaluate the debate and the panelists by Western standards. So Garry is perceived as "aggressive"... Believe me: by standards of Russian TV the debate was very moderate, and all the panelists were well-behaved. With a few exceptions, in a typical Russian political chat-show, the participants (prominent politicians and experts!) usually speak simultaneously and shout at each other. And Russian audience seems to like that kind of "aggressive" behaviour. So do not worry about Garry being so emotinal and aggressive: for Russian audience, Garry's emotional presentation is not a weekness - quite the opposite.

I am have been attending a literary seminar here in Nairobi and one of the cheif attendees is a Russian author by the name of Mikhail Iossel.

We saw the BBC "question time" together. On asking for his opinion on Kasparov's political future he said "He is considered a chess genius and should go back to playing the game...as a politician he is too radical."

Considering the response of valchess as well, it seems Kasparov is considered a 'radical'. The Russians don't think he is all that as a politician. Could he be wasting time with his new occupation?

I am have been attending a literary seminar here in Nairobi and one of the cheif attendees is a Russian author by the name of Mikhail Iossel.

We saw the BBC "question time" together. On asking for his opinion on Kasparov's political future he said "He is considered a chess genius and should go back to playing the game...as a politician he is too radical."

Considering the response of valchess as well, it seems Kasparov is considered a 'radical'. The Russians don't think he is all that as a politician. Could he be wasting time with his new occupation?

I am have been attending a literary seminar here in Nairobi and one of the cheif attendees is a Russian author by the name of Mikhail Iossel.

We saw the BBC "question time" together. On asking for his opinion on Kasparov's political future he said "He is considered a chess genius and should go back to playing the game...as a politician he is too radical."

Considering the response of valchess as well, it seems Kasparov is considered a 'radical'. The Russians don't think he is all that as a politician. Could he be wasting time with his new occupation?


Thank you for taking the time to clarify, I appreciate that. To tell you the truth, after my last post, I had already given thought to the possibility that the parameters for a successful debate in Russia could be much different than in this country. After reading your last post, I now know they are.

It is natural that I would be evaluating the debate by "Western standards" and therefore probably coming across as too critical to you. Ironically, in my mind, I think my viewpoints would be considered "moderate", pertaining to this particular debate.

In regards to not taking what you said to me "so personally", I was of the conviction that you were telling me I had no right to try and communicate an opinion. Therefore, the aggressive response and a weakness that I just can't seem to overcome from time to time.

Regarding Narochinitskaya, I doubt my opinion will change about her. To me she came across as very arrogant and self-centered. That particular type of personality will always receive a negative response from me, and most likely make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

valchess, I think I've rambled on enough about this and I want to thank you again for your last response.

I would say that I haven't seen such an interesting and amusing political show for years. Too bad anything like this is not possible on the Russian TV nowadays. The choice of the panel was really good (and, beleive me, it is not exactly easy to find 5 Russian experts who smultaneously a) speak more or less fluent English, b) are more or less straight-speaking, and c) represent all the relevant points of view) and the choice of questions cannot be characterised anyway other then excelent: the show have covered more or less all the most important questions of contemporary Russian politics in just 1 hour. Moreover, the moderator was doing rather good job, especially preventing the panel from speaking simultaneously, which was rather common for live political shows on Russian TV before they were closed several years ago.
Now a few words concerning the views expressed by the experts. There were 3 representatives of government and business authorities (Mrs Alexander, Karasin and Yurgens) and 3 opposition politicians (Mme Narochnitskaya, Mrs Kasparov and Illarionov). The second group was much more passionate, straightforward and therefore interesting to watch. It is not very surprising though: one do expect the authorities' representatives to be somewhat dull, yah?
In the opposition group Mr. Illarionov was definitely the best. He have very ellegantly made several important points: about the state of Russian TV, about the G8 being "not a classroom", about RosUkrEnergo affair. I think the reason is that while Garry and Natalia were trying to push there own agenda, he was paying more attantion to reacting on the partcular questions "here and now". My overall impression is that Andrey is one of the best debators in Russian politics nowadays. I do not always agree with the policies he suggests but I'm really looking forward to see him on the parliament benches someday.
Concerning Mme Narochnitskaya, first of all it is a great pleasure for me to see a Russian nationalist who i) speaks rather decent English and ii) says unreservedly that "Russia is not going for the superpower status". I would say that from my point of view she is not exactly seen in Russia as an extremist of any sort. She is kind of front intellectual and ideologue of a mildly nationalist Motherland party. She is definitely anti-West and anti-liberal but she is very far from, say, inciting hatred or violence or anything like that. So, though I do not agree with the most part of her views, it seems to me that it is really important to include her (or other similar persons) in the debate.
From this "authorities" group I would like to pay some tribute for Mr. Yurgens. Being very reserved he have shown nevertheless a rather decent common sence, and I liked his humor, too. Note, however, that Mr. Yurgens should not be seen as a "typical" representative of the Russian business elite. He is not typical, but one of the best, that is at least in terms of straightforwardness and courage. It is enough to say that there were only two representatives of Russian business community who expressed aloud their concerns about the Yukos affair, those two being Mr. Chubais (the "father of privatisation", another brilliant polemist and a long-time Mr. Illarionov's rival) and Mr. Yurgens.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 30, 2006 11:04 AM.

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