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Ukraine: Battle for the East; Ukraine Crisis: Russia's Next Steps; UKIP after Euro Win; Imagine a World

Aired May 27, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

In Ukraine, the elections are over but the battle to pacify the east is now in its second day. The fierce fighting at Donetsk Airport has left at least 40 people dead so far, their bodies stacked like kindling in this Donetsk morgue.

The Ukrainian military appears to be in control, but the new president's promise to unify the nation is precarious. Meanwhile, a team from the OSCE, the international monitoring mission, is missing somewhere in that same Donetsk region. NATO now says that Russian troops may in fact be pulling back from the Ukraine border, but Petro Poroshenko, the newly elected president, rejects Moscow's call to negotiate with those pro- Russian separatists.


PETRO POROSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (from captions): They're just bandits. They're just killers. They're just terrorists. That's the case. And if you expect that I will find out the support of these people, no way, no chance. In no civilized country of the world nobody have a negotiating with a terrorist.


AMANPOUR: But a late word from Moscow, President Putin is now calling on the new Ukrainian government to stop its military operation against those separatists. We get the views from Kiev and Moscow tonight. First, to Yuriy Sergeyev, who is Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Ambassador, welcome to the program and thank you for joining me. Let me ask you first the status of this battle for Donetsk.

Is the Ukrainian military, the government, in control now? Or not?

YURIY SERGEYEV, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: As of five minutes before our conversation, the minister of interior stated that the government is controlling the airport fully. We lost three military men there unfortunately.

AMANPOUR: And there were obviously about 40 deaths amongst the separatists.

Is that going to exacerbate your already bad relations with Russia and in that region?

SERGEYEV: What we keep asking and demanding from Russia, stop feeding terrorism and separatism in Ukraine because we are observing large groups of military men from Chechnya from articles are groupings and some of the separatist groups, they are being led by the Russian military men.

AMANPOUR: One of the key Ukrainian officials has said today, and I quote, "We'll continue the antiterrorist operation until not a single terrorist remains on the territory of Ukraine."

So are other raids planned? You say you're in control of the Donetsk Airport.

Have you broken the back of the general rebellion there?

SERGEYEV: So the main message which has been sent several weeks ago addressing the terrorists, addressing those who are supporting them and just misled people surrounded the arms (ph), surrounding the all-occupied buildings and we will talk with you after that.

So this is the main message and today the government stated very clearly that we are not going to use the heavy weaponry on to attack the single (ph) people and the cities and the villages. The -- it was very clearly said today but unfortunately this night we observe the huge amount of the weaponry approaching our borders.

Again, we are addressing Moscow, stop bidding terrorists.

AMANPOUR: You're saying that to Moscow and Moscow is saying to you, President Putin has said tonight that the Ukrainian government must stop its military operation against those separatists in the east.

Do you have any intention of stopping the military operation?

SERGEYEV: Naturally. We need a reconciliation with peace. We need stability. But we are keep asking them, what so-called is battalion (ph) from Chechnya is doing in Ukraine? What hundreds of Cossacks doing in Ukraine? Why the Russian guy is the prime minister of Donetsk republic? Why they are leading the victorious (ph) groups? Well, this is what we are keep telling them, to stop -- to stop all this provocations.

AMANPOUR: There seems obviously to be --

SERGEYEV: And to leave us alone.

AMANPOUR: -- right. Unfortunately, it looks like this is going to go on for a while. Petro Poroshenko, the new president, said his main mission is to travel to the east and to try to unite the nation. His other mission is to integrate more closely with Europe.

Is that going to cause yet another crisis in your region, yet another crisis with Moscow?

SERGEYEV: I believe that it will help the unification of the country, if to look carefully on the map of Mr. Poroshenko's support around Ukraine. All the regions including the rebelling, they gave more wards to him not by the economies or others. So him and other three leaders in the group, they are pro-Europeans. They give a good chance for unification of Ukrainians around European idea.

AMANPOUR: So as you look out there, do you think this is going to quieten down?

Or do you think Moscow is still interested in keeping up the pressure on Ukraine and having a major say in what happens, at least in the east?

SERGEYEV: Unfortunately, it looks like that. We don't trust the words; we trust the deeds. Still we have the huge amount of the military forces on our borders, despite the promises of President Putin. Still we have the provocations on our borders. This is why we are awaiting deeds.

AMANPOUR: Now what about the other major, major issue? Can you address the Ukrainians' people desire for good governance finally, for lack of corruption and for economic upturn? You know, it is true that Petro Poroshenko is a pro-European, very successful business man. But is he more of the same of the political class that we've seen so far? Or is he going to do something different?

SERGEYEV: The situation in Ukraine changed dramatically. And all the leaders, they do understand the necessity to be closer to the people, to learn the lessons from the previous governments. So that's why we haven't believed that the new -- the new power coming to the governance in Ukraine could succeed because not only because of their dedication, but because of the serious control from the civil society.

That's why I'm confident that we can succeed, if they leave alone.

AMANPOUR: Well, on that note, I'm going to say thank you, Ambassador Sergeyev, at the U.N. in New York.

And now we turn to Russian senator Andrey Klimov. He's a strong supporter of President Putin's Ukraine policy and he joins me now by phone from Moscow.

Senator Klimov, you just heard Ambassador Sergeyev say, please, Moscow, hands off Ukraine. Now after this election, is Moscow going to let Ukraine be Ukraine or are you still going to be interfering in the east?

ANDREY KLIMOV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: Look, our position is the same as it was some weeks ago or in some months ago. The best way of solving this problem is disarmament of all illegal forces in this country. According to the agreement to Geneva, but to do that, we have to have a cease-fire. So if you have in any country military preparation with tanks, with aircraft and helicopters and then in your own country, of course we put them (INAUDIBLE).


KLIMOV: So this is not about Moscow. This is about problems inside Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: OK. So both sides keep hurling responsibility across the divide and you're doing that right now as well.

Do you think, though, that it is time, now that there has been a new election, that Mr. Poroshenko has expressed a desire to talk to Moscow, to talk to those separatists and others in the east to unify and pacify Ukraine, that Moscow will now do its part and enter the fray to try to get these separatists to lay down their arms and to stop their armed -- their armed rebellion?

KLIMOV: Look, those people who you named as the separatists, they are not under Moscow control. It's here. This has been a mistake of some kind of (INAUDIBLE) propaganda, if you like.

The (INAUDIBLE), I'm sorry to say, Russians or even Chechen people in Ukraine, it is something which is too far from reality. There are lots of citizens of Ukrainians still who are Chechen people or Russians or Ukrainians or Judische (ph). They have different positions and they are not remembered all my own or our special forces. But this business of that country.

AMANPOUR: All right.

KLIMOV: And the problem is how to have function inside the society, (INAUDIBLE) let me (INAUDIBLE) inside Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Mr. -- Senator Klimov?

KLIMOV: So it -- look, (INAUDIBLE) really like to solve this problem. First of all he must stop fire against his citizen. And this is the great -- he took great steps to go --

AMANPOUR: Right. I understand what you're saying. Senator Klimov, with respect, nobody believes that these separatists don't have some kind of hope and support from Moscow. Zero people believe that. And the polls have shown that actually the people even of Eastern Ukraine would like to maintain the territorial integrity of a unified Ukraine.

So let me ask you this, because a member, the speaker of Russia's parliament -- Senator, Senator, just one second. The speaker of Russia's parliament, who is a key Putin loyalist, Sergey Narishkin (ph), has tweeted that, quote, "The issue of the status of these separatists was now an internal Ukrainian problem."

So I guess I want to know from you, is Moscow, is Russia backing away from this separatist rebellion?

KLIMOV: Look, we of course -- we'd like to respect and do respect the giving of people in our neighbor state. That is for sure. But even if the majority of people in Ukraine like to keep their country not like a federation but its mother (INAUDIBLE), leave it up to them to see. We don't want to assert any kind of order, which is not our method. And we will not (INAUDIBLE).

But look, those people who are now in this part of Ukraine, they'd like to have more rights to (INAUDIBLE) inside Ukraine. And my people who (INAUDIBLE) there are different groups of people. One of them (INAUDIBLE) to have a (INAUDIBLE)of their own state. And they come (INAUDIBLE) state Novorossiya. The other group of people like to have Federation. And the (INAUDIBLE) people like to be, let's say, part of the Russian Federation. But this is the very idea, not our one. We never quote them to split country, never.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, on -- in that -- in that case, then, obviously what has happened has caused a bit of an economic backlash against Russia; you are having economic troubles since the whole annexation of Crimea. And a real sense of risk in terms of investing now in Russia amongst the international community. And now the deputy foreign minister in Ukraine has told CNN that I do believe we have to exercise more sanctions, the international community has to exercise stronger influence on the Russian authorities to convince them to get back to civilized relations with other nations.

Isn't it really urgent, therefore, for you as Russians, as a government, to even if you say these separatists are not under your control, to insist that this stops now?

KLIMOV: Look, (INAUDIBLE) against my country, against my people, it is a useless thing, you see? Because if you like to solve problem but it is solve it but not repend (ph) new sanctions against Moscow, this is the wrong way, you see? The problem is not in Moscow. The problem is inside Ukrainian people and their society because before all this (INAUDIBLE) revolution about 50 percent of Ukrainians like to have and (INAUDIBLE) choice. But to the others (INAUDIBLE) Ukrainians like to keep integration on the way this Novorossiya (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: All right.

KLIMOV: And this is the main problem of this country. And these politicians like to (INAUDIBLE) this or that part to do something what they like to have in there.

AMANPOUR: All right.

KLIMOV: (INAUDIBLE) this country but not (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: OK, Senator, one very final quick, quick answer, please, is Petro Poroshenko a man Moscow can do with business with in this regard?

KLIMOV: No. Now she can do that because he's the new president. You see? And she can open a new page, if you like. But to do that, you must of course think not only about recommendations from -- excuse me -- Russians (INAUDIBLE), but also things that Russia (INAUDIBLE) neighbor state (INAUDIBLE). It will be any (INAUDIBLE) neighbors.


KLIMOV: And better to think about our interests and about our reasons as well to -- this is the best way to have solutions. And we do not want to have any (INAUDIBLE) that is (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: All right, Senator, let's hope a new page can be turned. Thank you very much for joining me from Moscow.

KLIMOV: Thank you, thank you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And after months of speculation, President Obama has confirmed that a residual United States force will remain in Afghanistan after NATO withdraws at the end of this year. Obama paid a surprise visit to a U.S. base there over the weekend. And on Wednesday, he'll deliver a major foreign policy address. And we will have more on that story on this program tomorrow.

And after a break, the rise of the right, not only in Germany, Austria and France and elsewhere, but also right here in Britain, a conversation with UKIP leader Nigel Farage when we come back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. We've been covering the rise of the far right anti-E.U. parties in this weekend's European elections. And now we've focused on the political earthquake caused by the U.K. Independence Party, which surged to win 27.5 percent of the vote here. And it now has 24 seats in the European parliament, which is more than any of the British mainstream parties.

UKIP was once described by Prime Minister David Cameron as full of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, leading the UKIP charge is charismatic leader Nigel Farage, who's accused by some of heading a populist, even xenophobic movement and he joins me from Brussels.


AMANPOUR: Nigel Farage, welcome to the program and thank you for joining me from Brussels.


AMANPOUR: So you had won the most out of the British parties in the European elections and the far right parties, eurosceptic parties, have done pretty well in Europe.

Are you planning to band together, to try to hold European politics?

What is your immediate mission?

FARAGE: Well, I'd be a bit careful about that analysis. I think there's too much of the Anglo-Saxon press focusing on the fact the far right have done well in Europe. What's really happened here is euroscepticism is now represented right across the political spectrum.

Now my party, UKIP, we're a party that believes in liberal democracy. We have classical democratic values and we absolutely abhor parties that are anywhere near extremism or racism and therefore we will not be doing any deal with parties on the far right.

And I'm here in Brussels to draw upon likeminded people to band together with for the next five years in this parliament.

AMANPOUR: Well, then, let me ask you then, because you've just talked about the National Front in France; I spoke to Marine le Pen on Friday and talking to her also about whether you or she would go into an alliance. Now both of you seem to say no. I asked her about your accusation that her party was prejudices and anti-Semitic and she basically said, well, you know, you've been accused of the same kind of thing.

Let me play you what she said.


MARINE LE PEN, LEADER, FRANCE'S FRONT NATIONAL: -- Cameron saying that -- him calling him racist, calling him a drunk. And so he's just trying to get us into a trap, saying these arguments of which he is victim himself.


AMANPOUR: What's your reaction to what she said?

FARAGE: Well, I have no wish to pick a fight with Ms. le Pen, but she seemed determined to try and pick a fight with me. I have to say Mr. Cameron has never called me a drunk. I think the last British political leader that was called a drunk was Churchill.

But Cameron's never said that about me.

Look, I think she's done a good job with the French National Front; I think she is different. So those that went before her -- and I've said that time and time again. But the party has baggage, all right? And yes, we've had accusations leveled at us, grossly unfairly, because some very junior minor members out of our 40,000 membership have said or done offensive things on Facebook or Twitter late at night.

But let me just put this to you. At the end of last week, Ms. le Pen's own father, Jean-Marie le Pen, the founder of that party, said -- he said we can solve the immigration crisis in France with the Ebola virus. All right? And I'm sorry to even give you that back as an answer, it's so offensive in every regard.

So if Ms. le Pen was to leave the Front National and start from scratch, I may look at things differently. But all the while there are people like her father around saying things like that, we will not be doing business with them.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the founder of your own party, because again, this goes to the heart of some of the criticisms about you.

Professor Alan Sked, who founded the party with you, "The party has become a Frankenstein's monster," he said. "He designed it as a non- sectarian, non-racist party with no prejudices against foreigners." And he says right-wingers and he includes you in that have taken it over.

FARAGE: I'm sure, that of the vast audience, watching this show there's actually none of them have ever heard of Dr. Alan Sked, and you've just mentioned his name. He was leader of the party; he was the founder of it in the early days. We haven't seen him or spoken to him since 1997.

And I'm afraid in business, if you lose a deal, you say, well, forget that; let's move onto the next one. In politics, when people lose their chance, it's quite a common thing. They spend the rest of their days trying to attack or slack off perhaps the party that was there before.

AMANPOUR: I want to know, though, how you react to a very reputable study that was done here by University College London. You know it; it was done last year. And they talk about your issues, immigration, welfare, taxes and all the rest of it.

So they say that immigrants who arrived here after 1999 were 45 percent less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits than U.K. natives in that same period of 2000-2011 and that in then -- at that time, E.U. immigrants contributed 34 percent more in taxes than they received in benefits.

You know, you seem to portray them as takers.

FARAGE: There is a -- yes. There is a slight -- no, I don't, actually, because many of them are coming young and bright, and that's not the issues. It actually -- the immigration debate benefits is in fact a very small part of it.

Generally I think it's fair to say that open-door immigration has been pretty good for the immigrants. They generally have done pretty well.


FARAGE: -- displacement. No, because there has been a huge social displacement. You know, even if we were, you know, 0.1 of a percent of GDP better of per annum, what about the fact that youth unemployment has doubled in the last 10 years and that for millions of people out there working, they've suffered wage compression on a scale we haven't seen in this country for about 150 years.

AMANPOUR: Your aim presumably is to do well in Britain, to be the party of opposition, to get into parliament. You don't have any seats in Westminster now.

What is your plan for the economy?

FARAGE: Number one, a selective immigration policy so we get skilled migrants who all contribute; number two, we would get back our trade policy, which we've surrendered as part of this customs union and be able to open ourselves up to doing trade deals with the rest of the world; we are currently forbidden and prohibited from doing that.

AMANPOUR: But Mr. Farage, you were privately educated at Dulwich College. You're the son of a stockbroker. You turned to be a stockbroker and now you're into politics. I mean, you are also establishment.

FARAGE: Hang on. I spent 20 years working in the private sector. And I look at the front bench of the other three parties in British politics, and virtually none of them have ever had a job. They've gone straight from university into a research office and into being members of parliament. I've got experience of the business world myself. And if you look at my front bench team, the people that are taking on the big spokesman jobs and spokeswoman jobs for UKIP, I've got a lot of working, bright working-class people who've worked hard in life and are prominent players in UKIP. And that makes us very distinctive from the other political parties. We are in touch with the electorate.

AMANPOUR: All right, Mr. Farage, thank you very much indeed for joining me from Brussels tonight.

FARAGE: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And we'll be right back with a final thought right after this break.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where being young and acting your age is a crime against the state. As Egypt's election goes into a surprise third day because of the lower-than-expected turnout, the former general, al-Sisi, remains the presumed winner and his adviser, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa told me yesterday that "we are not going to elect a dictator; we are going to elect a president under the stipulations of a constitution."

Now Muhamed Soltan might not be reassured, but he certainly hopes so because a 26-year-old dual citizen of American and Egypt, he worked in Cairo as a local contact and fixer for Western journalists until al-Sisi's security forces arrested him during last summer's protests. Nursing a gunshot wound received during those protests, he has languished in prison ever since, staging a hunger strike that's lasted now over 120 days. This video smuggled out of his jail cell is Muhamed's emotional appeal for help from U.S. President Barack Obama.


MUHAMED SOLTAN, IMPRISONED AMERICAN JOURNALIST: My name is Muhamed Soltan. I'm 26 years old. I'm an American. Yes, I have Egyptian origins. But I grew up in Kansas City; Boston; Detroit; Columbus, Ohio. I grew up in the United States of America, land of the free, home of the brave, or at least that's what I was taught growing up about our nation.


AMANPOUR: And while in Egypt a young man could be thrown into jail indefinitely, just for helping foreign journalists, in Iran, young people can be arrested for dancing, as we saw last week, when CNN brought you the story of those six young Iranians who were jailed after making a music video, dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy."

A storm of protest then went viral, and the "Happy" Iranians were quickly released on bail, although the director of the video remains in jail.

Today, I spoke to Siavash Taravati. His sister, Rayhaneh, was one of the young women who was detained for dancing. I asked him what this controversy tells us about Iran today.


SIAVASH TARAVATI, BROTHER OF RAYHANEH TARAVATI: I think that this video could really gain new insight into the attitudes of Iranian people toward dance, music and connecting to the world. Also it showed that when ordinary Iranian people get the chance, they're ready and willing to send a very positive and peaceful message to the rest of the world.

And I believe that it has the potential to be considered as a turning point for future social freedom improvements.


AMANPOUR: A turning point perhaps, but as long as autocrats jail young people for being young, freedom and happiness remain at risk.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.