on FRONTLINE/WORLD, two stories from a small planet.
ANNOUNCER: In Moscow, a city transformed by the young
and wealthy, the Kremlin has just arrested one of them, the
richest man in Russia. An exclusive interview with New York
Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise.
In post-war Afghanistan--
SARAH CHAYES, Afghans for Civil Society: My destiny
is tied up with the destiny of this place.
ANNOUNCER: --NPRs Sarah Chayes gave up reporting
and started helping.
SARAH CHAYES: Were trying to rebuild a village
that was destroyed in the American bombing.
Afghanistan: A House for Haji Baba
Reported by: Brian Knappenberger
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER, Reporter: [voice-over] The
road from Kabul to Kandahar is one of the oldest in the world.
Im here to follow Sarah Chayes.
SARAH CHAYES, Afghans for Civil Society: If this road
could talk, you know, what a tale it would-- it could tell us.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarah is a former war correspondent
who covered the campaign against the Taliban here for National
LINDA WERTHHEIMER, NPR: NPRs Sarah Chayes
is following events in southern Afghanistan.
SARAH CHAYES: None of the forces that oppose the
Taliban in southern Afghanistan--
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: For years as a reporter, Sarah
had come and gone from war zones, increasingly with misgivings
about the devastation shed left behind. But this time,
in Afghanistan, a chance conversation would change her life.
It was at a dinner with the uncle of President Karzai.
SARAH CHAYES: We had, you know, a wonderful meal and
a wonderful conversation, as always. We were looking ahead.
Now the Taliban have fallen, Hamid Karzai has been named interim
premier, and its, like, What are the prospects for the
future? As I got up to go, he kind of cocked his head and said,
"Wouldnt you come back and help us?" Just like
that. And it was, like, the signal, you know? It was really
AZIZ KHAN KARZAI, President Karzais Uncle: She
was thinking that she can do something and she must do it. So
we liked that from the very beginning.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The uncle introduced Sarah to the
presidents brother, Qayum Karzai, and he proposed that
Sarah come back to help in the reconstruction of the country.
SARAH CHAYES: I wanted to make sure he meant what I
thought he meant. And I said, "Not as a journalist."
And he said, "Yeah, not as a journalist." And I said
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarah gave up her job at NPR. On
this trip, she was coming back not to report, but to rebuild.
SARAH CHAYES: Ive made a couple of major changes
in the direction of my life. And sometimes Ive made changes
away from something that didnt feel right. This time,
it was making a change towards something that did feel right.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: After 14 hours on the road, we
are nearing the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. Theres
a wedding in the Karzai family tonight, and weve been
invited to join Qayum, his uncle and the new president. But
what we didnt know is that afternoon, as Hamid Karzai
made his way through the streets, and just as a young boy leaned
in to greet him, an assassin opened fire.
In an attempt to save the president, the boy had jumped on
the gunman, but in the confusion, the American special forces
assigned to guard Karzai opened fire. Three were killed in the
melee-- the assassin, another guard and the boy who saved the
presidents life. That night, under stepped-up security
from U.S. special forces, the president decided to go ahead
with the wedding as planned.
QAYUM KARZAI, President Karzais Brother: It was
a very strange, strange night. You know, on one had, you were
struggling to be happy. On another hand, there was this reminder
that an assassin-- major, major assassination, point-blank assassination
plot just failed. Hes the symbol of peace. If hes
not here, peace is not here.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Inside, we meet a surprisingly
calm President Hamid Karzai.
SARAH CHAYES: He was gracious. He was playful. And I
was very touched. To have canceled that wedding would have been
to give power to the people who tried to rattle him.
QAYUM KARZAI: He didnt want to tell the extremists
and the Taliban that they could disrupt the peace process.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Kandahar remains a dangerous place.
Here loyalty is to warlords, not to the central government in
far-off Kabul, and there is still deep support for the Taliban.
In the late days of the war, the Taliban fled along this road
out of Kandahar. They made their last stand in small villages
to the north. Were headed to one of them now.
This is Akokolacha. It was hit hard by U.S. bombing.
SARAH CHAYES: It really got hammered, you can see. Its
right near the airport, which was basically the last stand of
al Qaeda. It was, like, the last hold-out, where the last major
battle was fought. And these villagers all had run away, obviously,
by that time. Its quite likely that
al Qaeda fighters had taken up positions in these houses, and
so it just got plastered.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: More than half of this village
was destroyed in the bombing, 13 homes in all. Sarah is here
to rebuild them, using private aid money she helped raise back
in Concord, Massachusetts, for Qayums foundation. Its
a story in the small about the big challenges this country faces
after decades of war.
SARAH CHAYES: The bombing of Akokolacha was justified.
Were not trying to say this was a mistake, and therefore
the United States should pay for it. Whether it was wrong or
whether it was right, these people deserve to have their houses
to live in.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Before any construction can begin,
there are some decisions to be made. Sarah and Qayum hold a
shura, a meeting of village elders who are considered to be
the tribal leaders. This is democracy Afghan-style. Voices can
get loud, but here they will decide how the homes will be built.
QAYUM KARZAI: I told them that this money is not government
money, and because of that, we are only able to put standard
houses together-- three rooms, each room with one window and
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: It is decided at the shura that
the villagers will provide the workers. And Haji Baba, the oldest
of the village, will have his house built first. Everyone accepts
QAYUM KARZAI: In the end, the community agrees to find
a way, a consensus emerges, and those who disagree keeps quiet.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: As a woman, Sarahs presence
at the shura is far from normal. Women are not allowed, but
she is playing a primary role. As she goes about her daily life
here, Sarah always attracts attention.
SARAH CHAYES: I kind of pile it on, right? Im
non-Afghan, Im female, Im wearing mens clothes,
including a turban, and Im driving a car. That does attract
a lot of attention. All the time, people wonder if Im
a man or a woman. Ill hear kids say, "Thats
a woman!" You know? And then Ill turn around and
say, "Yeah, yeah, its a woman".
[www.pbs.org: Where are the Afghan women?]
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The next morning marks the first
day of construction, but already theres a problem. There
are no workers. In spite of what was agreed at the shura, only
a handful of villagers showed up.
SARAH CHAYES: Where are their family members?
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] Where are
your people and workers? You told us they would be here.
VILLAGE FOREMAN: [subtitles] I dont
know. I didnt get the news.
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] What do you
mean? Last night you were told about this.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarah and the man who everyone
calls Engineer Abdullah listen to the local foremans explanation,
but theyre not satisfied with what they hear.
VILLAGE FOREMAN: [subtitles] When the work
starts, the workers will be here. I told the two workers
to come tomorrow.
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] What happened?
We requested workers.
VILLAGE FOREMAN: [subtitles] You showed up
suddenly, and we are not prepared.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] I told you we dont
have any workers.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Engineer Abdullah decides he needs
to bring in some men of his own, but that wont happen
until tomorrow. In the meantime, Sarahs impatient to get
SARAH CHAYES: Come on, guys. Lets go!
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: She rounds up some of the local
villagers and begins clearing the rubble.
VILLAGER: [subtitles] Give me.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Give me!
SARAH CHAYES: [subtitles] More?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Baba is 85 years old. After
almost a year, his new house is finally under way.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] He has been filming
me for a while now.
VILLAGER: [subtitles] They are collecting
information from you. They think you are the leader of al
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Baba is in a joking mood,
but when we leave, he turns more serious. That night, Sarah
learns that Haji Baba wants a change in plans. The next morning,
she returns to Akokolacha to find him.
SARAH CHAYES: [subtitles] Where is Haji Baba?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarahs learned that Haji
Baba wants bigger rooms in his new house. Hes insisting
on 7 meters, not 5.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] One rug will not fit
in a 5-meter room.
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] We havent
SARAH CHAYES: Look, we said in the shura that the
rooms will all be 5 by 3-1/2.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Then forget about
it. If they dont want to build it, then just go!
SARAH CHAYES: What we can give them is 5 by 3-1/2.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Six meters.
SARAH CHAYES: Now hes down to 6. Hes
getting 5, and if he wants-- if he doesnt want 5,
then we wont build his house. Its that simple.
TRANSLATOR: [subtitles] If you want 5 meters,
they will build your house. If you want 6 meters, you will
have to pay for it yourself.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] If I had money, why
do I need her?
SARAH CHAYES: If he doesnt want five meters,
then well do everyone elses house.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Fine! Go ahead and
start anywhere you want. Five meters! I swear, no one would
agree with this!
SARAH CHAYES: Tell Haji Baba Im very sad because
we really wanted to make his house, but--
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] I swear to God, you
are not going to build it unless it is 6 meters!
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Babas hold-out drags
on, and the whole project is stalled. But then another of the
village elders finally steps in.
ELDER: [subtitles] Dont worry, God
will give you a bigger house. Dont argue with them.
VILLAGER: [subtitles] What if they change
ELDER: [subtitles] Tell them to start working.
VILLAGER: [subtitles] Do you want me to tell
them to start working?
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] All right. Whatever
he says. Go ahead and start.
SARAH CHAYES: [subtitles] Is it OK?
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Will you build a porch,
VILLAGER: [subtitles] Haji Baba are you happy
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: On the morning of the sixth day,
with the rubble now removed, its time to start construction
by laying down the stone foundation. Or at least, that was the
SARAH CHAYES: The stone came from where?
AID WORKER: They-- from some-- some private place.
SARAH CHAYES: Did we buy the stone?
AID WORKER: Yeah.
SARAH CHAYES: We bought it?
AID WORKER: Yeah, we buy it.
SARAH CHAYES: Yeah.
AID WORKER: They needed the stone.
SARAH CHAYES: What do they need the stone for?
AID WORKER: They use it in their stone crusher.
SARAH CHAYES: They want to make gravel out of our
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The local governor is blocking
the villagers shipment of foundation stone. Sarah didnt
know why, but she did know who, Governor Gul Agha Shirzai. Hes
a former warlord, pictured here on the left with President Karzai.
Shirzai and his troops seized Kandahar after the war, and Karzai
reluctantly named him governor. Now, at gunpoint, some of Shirzais
soldiers were seizing the quarry just outside of Akokolacha.
SARAH CHAYES: What did he do? He said he grabbed
QUARRY WORKER: [subtitles] He grabbed my
shirt and threatened me.
SARAH CHAYES: Did he have soldiers with him? How
many men did he have?
QUARRY WORKER: [subtitles] There were two
SARAH CHAYES: So one soldier in uniform?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarahs suspicions are confirmed.
Governor Shirzai and his brother-in-law, Razak, have taken control
of the quarry.
SARAH CHAYES: And Haji Saab is your friend? The
owner is your friend?
QUARRY WORKER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The owner of the stone quarry is
Haji Abdullah. Though Sarah and the engineer need their stones,
Haji Abdullah has problems of his own. He has been forced out
of his own factory.
HAJI ABDULLAH: [subtitles] There are about
100 people working here. They told me not sell any of the
SARAH CHAYES: But they asked him. Did they show
him a government order saying hes not allowed to do
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: No.
[subtitles] Are they offering you money for your
business, or do they want to throw you out by force.
HAJI ABDULLAH: [subtitles] Maybe that is
their plan, to kick me out.
SARAH CHAYES: With no compensation, no nothing?
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: No, no, nothing. Nothing.
HAJI ABDULLAH: [subtitles] You know that
they plan to use this land because it has water available
for making cement.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Now we know why Haji Abdullahs
quarry is so important to Governor Shirzai.
The notorious road from Kabul to Kandahar is about to be repaved
with funding from the United States government. A recipient
of the lucrative cement contract? Governor Gul Agha Shirzai
and his brother-in-law, Razak.
Without the foundation stone they need to begin, the work at
Akokolacha is at a standstill.
SARAH CHAYES: Gul Aghas brother-in-law, Razak,
has obtained a concession to, you know, have all the gravel
and stone, you know, to provide the gravel and stone, stone
in that same place.
QAYUM KARZAI: I wish-- I wish I was not the presidents
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The Karzai government has been
struggling to control local governors like Gul Agha Shirzai.
QAYUM KARZAI: Im not against Gul Agha. Im
against these things.
SARAH CHAYES: Youre against his practice.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Qayums upset about what happened
to the quarry owner.
QAYUM KARZAI: Hes not really a victim of the
SARAH CHAYES: No.
QAYUM KARZAI: Hes the victim of a corrupt
government in Kandahar.
SARAH CHAYES: Yes. Yes.
QAYUM KARZAI: Thats what the problem is.
SARAH CHAYES: But is it-- the problem--
QAYUM KARZAI: A government that is-- a government
that is setting up small businesses and monopolizing, and
evicting other people, evicting other people not to conduct
business. I see it as an impediment to the whole legitimacy
of the government reconstruction process.
SARAH CHAYES: Absolutely. Absolutely. Right now,
I mean, in a very concrete way its impeding the reconstruction
process because we have a village to build, and we cant
build it because we dont have stone. What could we
QAYUM KARZAI: One problem after another problem
after another problem.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: During the bombing campaign, Haji
Abdullahs machinery was seriously damaged. He had just
made the repairs when the governor shut him down. Now, if he
cant sell the stones legally, his family and his employees
will go hungry.
Late in the day, Sarah and Engineer Abdullah return with a
proposal. The plan is to sneak the stones out of the quarry
without the governor finding out.
HAJI ABDULLAH: [subtitles] Yes, I am ready.
Lets do business. God willing, it will work out.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: When the sun comes up the next
morning, it begins to look like their plan may have worked.
They managed to smuggle at least a tractorful of the precious
cargo out of the quarry-- not enough for the entire village,
but stone enough to at least start Haji Babas foundation.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] That foundation is
not wide enough. Its not wide enough.
FOREMAN: [subtitles]_ Its plenty wide. See
for yourself. What are you talking about? Look here.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Babas house is under
way, but the next attempt to get stone ends badly. The workers
gather the next load, but as their truck tries to leave the
quarry, Shirzais soldiers once again intervene.
SOLDIER: [subtitles] We cant let anyone
leave the quarry with stone.
MALE: [subtitles] We have already discussed this
with Haji Abdullah, the owner.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: In post-war Afghanistan, even the
stones are worth fighting for. Sarah and the Engineer are left
with only one choice, to confront Governor Shirzai directly.
Because of her status as an American and her alliance with the
Karzais, we dont have to wait long to get an audience.
Other people with grievances wait outside the gate for days
or even weeks.
SHIRZAI AID: [subtitles] Oh, its a
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] Yes, her name
SARAH CHAYES: [subtitles] Yes, my name is
Sarah. Gul Agha knows me.
SHIRZAI AIDE: [subtitles] Excuse me. I will
go check for you.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarah is made to wait as the governor
eats his lunch. ...
[www.pbs.org: Read behind-the-scene stories]
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: This is Governor Gul Agha Shirzai.
DEPUTY MINISTER: It is specified for cement, yeah?
We are going to establish here a factory for making cement.
GUL AGHA SHIRZAI: [subtitles] We have prohibited
taking stone from two places. One is in the old part of
town where there are ancient writings we must preserve.
The other is in Shurendom, the place you have named, because
we are creating a cement factory.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The governor tells Sarah which
parts of the mountains are off limits for stone and why. Then
he urges her away from stone altogether.
GUL AGHA SHIRZAI: [subtitles] If you want
a stone foundation, then it will be more expensive. But
if you use cement, it will be cheaper and better.
SARAH CHAYES: The only thing is, we promised this
village that we would rebuild it the way it was before.
And they had stone foundations before. And its just
DEPUTY MINISTER: There is no other place. No, there
is no other place.
GUL AGHA SHIRZAI: [subtitles] We will give
you stone tomorrow.
DEPUTY MINISTER: Yeah. Yeah. We will give you. Yeah.
SARAH CHAYES: But we need it now. We need it tomorrow.
It needs to be on the site tomorrow. So maybe one order
for two houses worth for tomorrow, because were in
the process of building now.
DEPUTY MINISTER: Tomorrow we will have our-- I mean,
we will make our delegation--
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The deputy minister tells Sarah
to meet him at his office the next morning to work out the details.
SARAH CHAYES: So between 8:00 and 8:30, inshallah.
DEPUTY MINISTER: Yes. Yes.
SARAH CHAYES: Yeah, bricks with cement, and buy my cement.
God, its the same everywhere!
That mountain has to be saved for using on cement from his
goddamn factory, and nobody is allowed to have stone for foundations.
Hes cornering a market completely, and hes the governor
and hes the part owner of this factory, of this new cement
factory. So hes using his governmental power to protect
[www.pbs.org: Read an interview with Sarah Chayes]
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Meanwhile, at Akokolacha, the workers
have run out of stone.
WORKER: [subtitles] I have no stone. I have
no water. I cannot work. Look at the foundation. Look at
what we have done so far. Its half done. We dont
have enough stone to finish. If we have the stone, we can
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: The next morning, Sarah heads to
her meeting with the deputy minister. This time, however, getting
through the gate is not so easy.
GATEKEEPER: [subtitles] You had permission
yesterday, but today is a different day.
SARAH CHAYES: Why dont you come with us? Ask
him to come with us. We had an appointment yesterday, and
they are waiting for us.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Eventually, Sarah is not only denied
access, but we are physically threatened by one of the governors
higher-ranking guards. It takes hours for Engineer Abdullah
to finally negotiate their way to the deputy minister.
SARAH CHAYES: Remember, yesterday, you said this
morning that you would bring people from Mines and Industry
to find us stone from a quarry near-- in the south, near
the base? Remember, thats what we agreed on. So?
DEPUTY MINISTER: Yes. And when I am back, then yeah,
I well, I mean, our administrator. He will--
SARAH CHAYES: Do you remember the quarry that the
governor said to get it from?
DEPUTY MINISTER: Yes. Yes. Of course.
SARAH CHAYES: So-- wait. I cant let you go
until-- so what do we do now so that we can get this stone
DEPUTY MINISTER: Yeah. I mean, when-- when-- yeah
I will tell to--
SARAH CHAYES: Why dont you tell the person--
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Instead of approving Sarahs
order for stone, the Deputy Minister gives her yet another turn
in the bureaucratic maze, the director of Mines and Industry.
Sarah quickly finds herself back where she started.
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: These mountains
is just for cement.
SARAH CHAYES: Were trying to rebuild a village
that was destroyed in the American bombing, OK? The villagers
have no houses. They are-- you know, their-- winter is coming.
This is what everyone said, "Rebuild our houses, rebuild
our houses, rebuild our houses." Now we cant
rebuild the houses because we have no stone. So can you
find us another place nearby for stone? Thats what
that letter says, right?
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: [subtitles]
I must go with you to see the area from which part of the
mountain you can take stone from.
SARAH CHAYES: Come. Lets go. Yeah. Thats
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: On our way to the quarry, Engineer
Abdullah notices some tractors carrying stone. It turns out
that these men have bribed their way past the governors
soldiers at another quarry.
SARAH CHAYES: Who are they paying?
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: [subtitles] There are
SARAH CHAYES: And the soldiers are taking the money?
ENGINEER ABDULLAH: Yeah.
SARAH CHAYES: Well, tell me which-- where is it
illegal to take stone from, this entire mountain? This whole
mountain? All these mountains belong to this one little
cement factory? Its not normal, is it? What do you
think of that?
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: [subtitles]
If we give permission for one person or two or three, all
the people will take this stone.
SARAH CHAYES: But-- but do you think they can--
do you think they can take down the entire mountain?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: They finally end up at the original
stone quarry, talking to its owner, Haji Abdullah.
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: [subtitles]
No one should be allowed to take the stone except you. If
you have some stone, you may give it to them.
SARAH CHAYES: He wants to give us stone, but the
one who stops him is--
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Sarahs persistence pays off.
Just a short drive away, the minister ignores the governors
orders and tells the workers at the quarry to let the stones
SARAH CHAYES: And no guns and no intimidation, huh?
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: [subtitles]
Heres the letter. Give them the stone.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Meanwhile, Haji Abdullah is still
out of business.
SARAH CHAYES: What is he supposed to do with his
life, his house, his business, his workers?
MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRY: Find another job
for himself. Take his workers and families and--
SARAH CHAYES: He has to move. Dont you think
he should get compensation for-- for being obliged to move?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Abdullah would get no money
for his land or his equipment. Worse, the soldiers of Governor
Gul Agha Shirzai would arrest him and throw him in jail. And
when he was let out 10 days later, the stone he had stockpiled
for years was gone. Now he would need to start all over again.
The next morning, stone arrives as scheduled at Akokolacha.
They now have the stone they need to finish Haji Babas
foundation and begin his house.
FOREMAN: [subtitles] Bring the mud for here
and over there.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: For the walls of Haji Babas
house, the workers make traditional sun-baked mud bricks.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] With these small stones
and this kind of brick, you cant build a good house.
This is a joke. You cant even build a wall with this
QAYUM KARZAI, Afghans for Civil Society: Afghans have
enormous energy for construction. They are very hard working
people, very individualistic and would like to improve their
lot. I think the reconstruction and the peace process would
be very easy to achieve if it wasnt for these warlords.
Warlords are in control of the government and of the resources
of the society. They are sucking the blood and the flesh from
the society. This vacuum that occurred after the Taliban, they
have emerged and they are here. They are basically bandits.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Who controls things here in the
south is increasingly uncertain, especially now, as members
of the Taliban slip back into their former home. In recent months,
the Taliban have killed construction crews and ambushed international
SARAH CHAYES: There is murder. There is greed. There
is corruption. This is still a very volatile place, particularly
in the south. And there are people with a lot of different agendas,
and its going to take a long time for mindsets to change.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: But even with these dangers, there
are signs that life here is getting better.
SARAH CHAYES: The Taliban banned kite flying. Right
after the Taliban fell, there was, like, a weeks hiatus,
and the kites just filled the sky. And it was, like, in clouds
like this. It was like swallows. And to me, its the real
symbol of the liberation of this country.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] I have seen a lot of pain
and suffering. I have seen it all. Governments come and governments
go. They change so fast. The most important thing in my life
is to live in peace. All that I ask for is food, water and shelter.
VISITOR: [subtitles] Your house is looking
really good today.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Yes, it looks good.
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Haji Babas house is almost
complete. But even in this one village, there are still 12 more
houses to be rebuilt.
SARAH CHAYES: Somebody said, at some point, this is
like trying to clean up a nuclear disaster with a toothbrush.
Its been a really emotionally kind of roller-coaster of
an experience, which means that there are moments of incredible
euphoria, and there have been times of-- you know, Ive
cried. I have cried, you know?
BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER: Its taken about three weeks,
but now the finishing touches are being put on Haji Babas
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Put the mud on a little
thicker. You can put on two coats.
WORKER: [subtitles] No, its fine the
way it is.
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Come on. It will be
better if you put on more mud.
SARAH CHAYES: I do believe that as they come to have
more faith in me that I am building them their houses, and I
am really going to do this and I am a person-- they see me as
dollar signs, and thats perfectly legitimate. I totally
understand that. They see me as dollar signs, and its
only over time that theyre going to start to see me as
a person, as a human being.
Im not ready to leave this country yet. I feel like my
destiny is bound up with the destiny of this place-- for a little
HAJI BABA: [subtitles] Yes, I thought they
were only joking about building my house. Now I have a house!
ANNOUNCER: Next, New York Times reporter Sabrina
Tavernise meets the richest man in Russia, who now finds himself
in a jail cell.
Moscow: Rich in Russia
Reported by: Sabrina Tavernise
SABRINA TAVERNISE, Reporter: [voice-over] I spent
eight years in Russia, most recently as a reporter for The
New York Times in Moscow. Thats the Kremlin wall.
Behind it the czars once ruled, then the Bolsheviks, and now
democratically elected presidents.
Outside the wall, a new power has emerged: money. The new money
has created opportunities for Russians that never existed before.
Thirty-year-old Vladislav Dudakov is part of a new generation
of business managers. He grew up in a run-down Russian village
and came to Moscow as a soldier in the Red Army. He was a guard
at Lenins tomb. He remembers entertaining tourists with
his exaggerated march.
Then McDonalds came to Moscow, and Vladislav switched
allegiances. From floor sweeper, he quickly rose to store manager.
Ten years later, he went to work for a Russian investor wanting
to open Starbucks-style coffee shops. Today Vladislav manages
a chain of some 30 coffee houses in Moscow. I ask him what he
thought of his McDonalds boot camp.
VLADISLAV DUDAKOV: [subtitles] I was different
than my peers. They would say, "Why dont we extend
our break a bit?" "Why do we have to scrub so hard?"
My answer was, "You must fulfill the task." At McDonalds,
we were always getting achievement awards. At one point, they
sent me to Hamburger University in Chicago. The American style
of management became my education.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Western business ideas are reshaping
everything here. For Vladislav, that even comes down to getting
the waitresses to let go of old Soviet habits, and, he says,
learn to smile, smile, smile.
In todays Moscow, as traditional Russian culture mixes
with the new capitalist culture, entire new professions have
emerged, like advertising. My friend Andrei Gnatiuk owns advertising
and political consulting companies. Hes part of the young
generation trying to bring a new order out of the chaos of post-communist
ANDREI GNATIUK: [subtitles] Entropy, if you remember
from school, is a concept of disorder. It says chaos is the
prevailing force in the world. We call ourselves entropy busters.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Andrei is the founder of the Russian
Advertising Association. Tonight it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Russian capitalism is still in its wild phase. For those with
money, Andrei says, everything is for sale, even sometimes the
ANDREI GNATIUK: [subtitles] The first money in
Russia was made very fast and without much respect for the law.
Russia is trying to achieve in 10 years something that took
the United States hundreds of years. We still dont have
a society governed by the rule of law.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: In the 10 years since Russia chose
capitalism, Moscow has become a party for the young and rich.
The nouveau riche are famous for their indulgent excesses. Moscow,
once a city of darkness, is now a city of light. My Russian
friends brag that nightlife here rivals Paris and London. Beyond
the lights of Moscow, the rest of Russia lies in shadow. The
average salary is just $4,000 a year. Moscow is where the fortunes
are being made.
Rafael Filinov, age 33, made his millions in real estate. In
Soviet times, the land around Red Square had no commercial value.
In the new economy, its worth billions. As the city sells
dilapidated historic buildings, Rafael snatches them up. Only
the vestiges of the old Soviet system remain.
POLICEMAN: [subtitles] You cannot enter without
RAFAEL FILINOV: [subtitles] What are you
saying? My people are working there!
SABRINA TAVERNISE: This former storage space will be
a million-dollar room with a view.
RAFAEL FILINOV: [subtitles] Youll be able
to see the Kremlin from here, but better from upstairs.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Rafaels office is located in
an exclusive section of Moscow. He tells me about the booming
real estate market. When he closed a deal on an apartment with
a Kremlin view, someone immediately offered him $100,000 more.
A week later, someone offered $200,000 more, then $600,000 more.
The market is wild, he says. For Russians who made quick fortunes
in mining and oil, cost is not a concern. Theyll pay anything
for a view of the Kremlin.
RAFAEL FILINOV: [subtitles] Dont be confused.
Moscow and Russia are two different countries. Im afraid
that if I tell a Russian babushka that one square meter in Moscow
costs $11,000, she will think Im talking about the price
for an entire apartment. She will not survive the news that
in the city she lives in, one square meter costs $11,000. She
will have a heart attack.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: When people in Moscow throw a coin
for good luck, the money doesnt stay on the ground for
long. Its hard to be old in the new Moscow.
At last count, Russia had 17 billionaires, most under the age
of 40. In this exclusive enclave of boutiques in the heart of
Moscow, there are as many bodyguards as shoppers. The super-rich
keep to themselves, spending like theres no tomorrow,
increasingly cut off from the lives of their countrymen.
[www.pbs.org: Read the reporters NY Times articles]
Beneath Moscows glitz, ordinary Russians struggle to
survive. Most Russians are poorer since the fall of the Soviet
Union. They despise the rich and powerful for having grabbed
the crown jewels of the Soviet economy: factories, oil fields,
The profound changes have left most Russians disoriented. Their
country is no longer a great world power. Their economy has
shrunk to the size of Polands. Doctors have to moonlight
as cab drivers. It is as if they are immigrants in their own
The worst off are the elderly. Pensions do not begin to cover
the cost of modern life. So the poor sell their belongings on
the streets-- scraps of fur from family coats.
[on camera] [subtitles] What is it youre
OLD WOMAN: [subtitles] Everyone has a little
SABRINA TAVERNISE: [voice-over] This woman was
a foreman at a Soviet shoe factory. Now, at 70, she is embarrassed
about what she has to do to supplement her $70-a-month retirement
check. I asked her what she thinks of Russias wealthy.
OLD WOMAN: [subtitles] Every country needs rich
people. They have a lot to contribute. We just wish they would
give a tiny bit back to us.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: The Kremlin has been trying to keep
control of Russias tycoons. President Vladimir Putin told
the oligarchs that they could keep the wealth they had grabbed,
as long as they stayed out of politics.
This is the headquarters for Yukos, Russias biggest oil
company, valued at $32 billion. This empire is at the center
of a new power struggle between the Kremlin and big business.
The government raided the companys offices, accusing top
oil executives of tax evasion and fraud, charges they deny.
The principal owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is the richest man
in Russia. At age 40, hes worth an estimated $8 billion.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] I like conducting
business in an open way. This is what I tell myself: I will
not only obey the law, but also adhere to good business ethics.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: It was just 3 weeks after this interview
that Khodorkovsky would be arrested himself and thrown in jail.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] I admit that
prior to 1992, I functioned differently. I was not breaking
Russian laws, but I was still careless. At the time, Russian
law allowed us to do things that were unthinkable in the Western
[trailer for "Tycoon" courtesy of New Yorker Films]
NARRATOR: Out of the darkness of a devastated country,
a shady underworld arises, and the Russian oligarch is born.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Recently, a Russian movie called
Tycoon dramatized the life story of another oligarch,
"BORIS BEREZOVSKY": [subtitles]
It occurred to me that if we cant beat the Kremlin,
we can become the Kremlin. Youre not born a president,
youre made a president. The guy on Channel 4, the
governor in the fur hat, well make him president,
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Berezovsky was a political power
broker who clashed with Putin and lost.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] Berezovsky
was no longer interested in business. He went into politics
while still doing business. This got him in trouble. His mistakes
that followed were political mistakes. And I dont want
to get into it. You can do business or you can do politics,
but you cannot play both games.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: In fact, I had met Berezovsky. On
my way to Russia, I stopped in London, where he lives as a fugitive
from Russian law. The British government just gave him political
asylum. At the peak of his power, Berezovsky owned a television
network, Russias biggest car company and its national
airline. He is wanted in Moscow for fraud.
BORIS BEREZOVSKY: We pass through absolutely special
time in Russia. We pass through revolution. And never a revolution
happened without mistakes. For sure, we did a lot of mistakes,
and we need to improve that. But step by step, in an evolutional
process, business and power have to cooperate, and very close
to cooperate. Lets say, for you, its not surprising
that, lets say, very rich man, Rockefeller, one day become
vice president of the United States. Its nothing.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Berezovsky fears for his life. He
says Scotland Yard alerted him to three assassination plots,
the last one involving a private hit man hired to stab him with
a poison-tip umbrella. He insists hes innocent of everything
the Kremlin accuses him of.
BORIS BEREZOVSKY: [subtitles] We didnt
break any laws. But if you call giving bribes a crime, then
all oligarchs were criminals.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Berezovsky explained how he acquired
his assets during Russias wild early days of capitalism.
BORIS BEREZOVSKY: [subtitles] The Soviet bureaucrats
didnt believe that capitalism would prevail. You would
give an official $10,000, and hed give you the property
title. Not for one second did he expect this factory to stay
private. He was convinced that the Reds would return and take
SABRINA TAVERNISE: I asked Berezovsky if he felt guilty
about his fortune. "I dont regret being rich,"
he told me. "I only regret that there are so many poor."
BORIS BEREZOVSKY: [subtitles] I believe oligarchs
are true heroes. Because of us, Russia was put on a new course.
[www.pbs.org: Meet other Russian oligarchs]
SABRINA TAVERNISE: The oligarchs may have put Russia
on a new course, but whats threatening to Putin and the
political establishment is the sheer economic power they hold
in their hands.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] We are, of
course, influential people, with our own views on how the country
should develop. Should we follow the American model or, for
example, the Venezuelan one, with private property as the economic
base, but all political life controlled by the government? A
country cannot become rich unless it is democratic.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: In Moscow, people say his problems
with the government are not about business. Putin has been sending
a message about whos in charge, a warning to stay out
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] Personally,
I dont deal in politics.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: But in fact, he has been financing
opposition political parties.
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY: [subtitles] Its one
thing to sponsor politicians who support us. Its something
else to directly participate in politics. One requires money,
which I have. The other requires effort and time, which I dont
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Despite Khodorkovskys cautious
denials, in the new Russia, politics and business have always
gone together. It depends whose side youre on. Consider
Vladimir Semionov, a communist agriculture minister turned capitalist.
He suddenly gained control of this collective farm in the economic
chaos of the 1990s. The farm does $50 million of business a
year and supplies most of the vegetables to McDonalds.
Semionov is also a member of parliament, with a politicians
knack for rhetoric. Hes a rich man warning the oligarchs
about a populist backlash.
VLADIMIR SEMIONOV: [subtitles] You remember your
President Roosevelt during the Depression. He said to big business,
"Be aware that you can wake up tomorrow in a different
country." Today Russia finds itself in a similar situation.
In my view, we must act on behalf of the poor to prevent them
from taking the situation into their own hands. Russia will
not survive another revolution.
SABRINA TAVERNISE: Its a political season in Russia.
Elections are coming soon. As one friend said to me, "Putin
needs to spear an oligarch." Mikhail Khodorkovskys
arrest and jailing on charges that could be brought against
most of Russias super-rich is a high-risk tactic, threatening
businessmen and foreign investors. But it will play well with
most ordinary Russians, who feel left out of capitalisms
Leaving Moscow this time, I wonder how long it will take for
the countrys wealth to reach down to ordinary Russians.
It will pass many of them by, especially the old. If theres
hope, its with the young, who are more independent, more
worldly and more sure of themselves than their parents ever
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Theres no evidence for it. We think thats pseudo-science.
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Do you think the average American realizes that the herb
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