ANNOUNCER: Tonight’s program contains graphic imagery, viewer discretion is advised.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE/World, three Stories from a Small Planet.
ANNOUNCER: In Pakistan… as President Musharraf’s suffers defeat at the polls…. A mysterious Taliban cleric is threatening revolution…
SOT: (Ahmed Rashid) This could have been nipped in the bud two years ago. And now you need to send in 20,000 troops.
ANNOUNCER:… And in Russia, Vladimir Putin is giving up the presidency, but will he give up power?
SOT: (Vladimir Pozner) Today there is a golden boy in Russia, and that golden boy is Putin.
ANNOUNCER: Finally, in Cuba, as Castro steps down… an unlikely duo lead a revolution in art.
SOT: When it was clear that they weren’t going to get their visa’s, they said, “Just tell them we’ll see you after the revolution.”
PAKISTAN: STATE OF EMERGENCY
Reported by David Montero
This is Swat, a valley high in Pakistan’s North West frontier.
Though it’s near the troubled border with Afghanistan, Swat has long been a peaceful place.
But not any more…
SOT: Shouting of armed Taliban men
Last year, a new branch of the Taliban rose up here…
A mix of foreign fighters and local insurgents, they’re allied with Al Qaeda and are threatening to take over.
Taliban commander: We have spread the holy Koran to the people…This is our land…. And we want to sacrifice our lives for this.
Late last October, these Taliban began sweeping through towns like this one…
Now the fear is that an Islamic insurgency could spread through the heart of the country…
I’ve come here to understand how this valley had become a terrorist haven.
Swat was once the crown jewel of the country’s tourism trade. But because of the Taliban’s presence, all the hotels are empty.
It’s a dangerous area, off limits to journalists. I’ve had to slip in under the radar.
I was told to disguise my American identity. My blue eyes would have been a dead giveaway, so I put in brown contact lens…
…and then my friends took me to buy some local clothes so I could blend in better.
In the capital of Swat, Saidu Sharif, the population is mostly Pashtun, the same ethnic group as the Taliban….but for years the locals resisted them.
This man told me that Taliban recently tried to impose their violent brand of Islam on his mosque.
PIOUS MAN: When the Taliban came, we were all gathered together at Friday prayers. We told the Taliban, “We follow Islamic law, you don't. We are Muslim, we follow the Sharia with complete conviction. But in the Sharia we follow, there should not
be violence. Innocent people cannot be killed. With all do respect, please leave.”
But the Taliban were digging in… building this massive madrassa on the edge of town….
It was the base of their leader, a mysterious cleric—known as the Radio Mullah…
His daily broadcasts quickly attracted a following…
FAZLULLAH: I salute you my Taliban. May God strengthen you and may God enable you to crush the infidels.
I’d actually been here before, in May of last year, and interviewed the cleric just as his movement was turning violent.
His name is Maulana Fazlullah.
At the time, he forbade me or anyone else from taking his picture.
This is the only known footage of the cleric…shot surreptitiously and obtained by Frontline/World.
Fazlullah represents the new face of the Taliban -- that analysts here have been warning about.
(Web tag: Profiles of Taliban Leaders)
Ahmed Rashid: We should remember the Taliban were never defeated by the Americans. They were routed and they fled Afghanistan and came to Pakistan.
(ID: Ahmed Rashid, Author Taliban)
AHMED RASHID (on camera): The Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda, who are living in Pakistan, have nurtured a whole new generation of Pakistani extremism. So I think this is a very, very dangerous phenomenon.
Starting last fall, Fazlullah’s Taliban forces began occupying towns throughout the Swat valley.
They overran government security bases like this one.
The Pakistani frontier corps had been posted here … but they fled…and Fazlullah’s men seized their weapons stockpile….
In a matter of months, the Taliban took over 60 towns.
The people of Swat pleaded with the government to do something.
When the government finally acted, the Taliban were only too proud to show this local camera crew what happened next.
They took them to a site where a battle had been fought a few days earlier….
These government frontier corpsmen had tried to take on the Taliban, but, poorly trained and outnumbered…. They were routed…
The Taliban have left their bodies in a field, as a warning to others.
And then they took their terror tactics a step farther.
The Pakistani Taliban began beheading people who stood in their way. This policeman was one of them. They displayed his body in public.
…and left this note, which says, “Those people who serve America, the same thing will happen to them. They will face the same fate.”
Terrorized by Fazlullah's men, the people of Swat turned to one of their traditional leaders.
This is Asfandiar Amir Zeb, a prince whose family ruled Swat for a hundred years.
Asfandiar has been one of the leading voices against the Taliban. He says there’s a lot of popular discontent with the government that Fazlullah has exploited.
(ID: Asfandiar Amir Zeb, Prince of Swat)
ASFANDIAR: Maulana Fazlullah promised to have Sharia law enforced here, which would provide quick justice. So I think quick justice and efficient government. This is something which the people wanted and this is what the people saw in him.
But Asfandiar says Fazlullah actually had a more violent agenda, and that he must be stopped.
This is a personal battle for Asfandiar.
Since the creation of Swat, his family has fought against Islamic militants.
His grandfather went on to become the president of Pakistan. Here he is with Jacqueline Kennedy.
For months, Asfandiar appealed for the government to intervene against Fazlullah…
But to no effect.
ASFANDIAR: I would say the government was very inefficient in dealing with this situation. They should have dealt with the situation in time where no blood would have been spilled.
But Fazlullah only escalated his campaign.
Late last October, for the first time in the history of Swat, a suicide bomber struck. Twenty frontier corps men were killed…and many civilians wounded.
Taliban violence like this has now spread across the country.
In the last six months, 800 people have been killed in terrorist attacks.
The government has been unable to stop it.
In the aftermath of all the violence… people began to speak out publicly against Fazlullah…
ANGRY MAN on STREET: We don't like him. Our children, our houses and our lives have been destroyed because of him. This Maulana has disgraced the name of Swat. He's brought us down in the world. Belonging to Swat has become a curse for us.
Finally, two months into the uprising, President Musharraf acted…
He sent 20,000 ground troops into Swat to take on Fazlullah’s men…. And declared a state of emergency…
MUSHARRAF: Extremists are taking control of the government's agenda.
(ID Pervez Musharraf, President, Pakistan)
MUSHARRAF (on camera)
In my view they are challenging Pakistan’s sovereignty. This is a very serious situation of terrorism and extremism.
But Fazlullah remained defiant and continued to broadcast radio messages…even as his men fought off the army.
FAZLULLAH: We will fight and do jihad as long as we have one drop of blood and one breath.
In the first few weeks of fighting, hundreds of Fazlullah’s men were killed…and the army took back the main towns in the valley.
But Fazlullah and his top commanders escaped, sparking widespread criticism of Musharraf’s government.
Ahmed Rashid: I think that the operation has been a total disaster. The military moved in as usual far too late. The fact is that this movement has been going on for two years. This could have been nipped in the bud two years ago by a small police operation. And now you needed to send in 20,000 troops. And none of the leadership has been captured. They’ve all fled basically, and they can come back at any time.
Fazlullah and his Taliban forces have retreated into the mountains, where they continue to launch attacks against the army.
In the city it’s tense. There’s a daily curfew. Everyone must be indoors by 6 o’clock or shot on sight.
The extra security comes as a national election gets underway—the first in six years…
Government soldiers are now posted on the hilltops… this one is right above the compound of Asfandiar, the Prince of Swat…
He’s decided to run for a seat in the national assembly.
It’s a dangerous undertaking these days.
But Asfandiar is undeterred, traveling only with a lightly guarded convoy.
He invites me to come along as he campaigns. We drive into the mountains, along narrow, deeply rutted roads. It’s a poor, remote area…
…but these are his constituents. Everywhere he goes, the people of Swat greet him affectionately.
At this town meeting, Asfandiar is calming frazzled nerves during the army’s ongoing battle with the Taliban.
I asked whether he was encouraged that Fazlullah had been forced to flee.
Asfandiar: But what was the price for that? But what was the price that the government paid for it, what was the price that the people of Swat paid for it? So many civilians killed, life disrupted, mass migrations. And Swat, which was a tourist resort, in the next ten years I think no one will even think of coming to Swat.
And Asfandiar is afraid the worst is not yet over…that Fazlullah is biding his time.
Asfandiar: The army is not in full control of Swat. There are parts of Swat beyond which the army has not taken control of. So I don’t know if he’s there or if he’s fled or what, I don’t know.
He’s not alone. Many believe that Fazlullah is just waiting to strike again.
And there are doubts that the army is willing to sustain the fight against him.
President Musharraf actually tried to appease Fazlullah by striking a deal with him early last year.
It’s a familiar pattern. Pressured by the United States to go after extremists and Al Qaeda supporters, Musharraf has instead tried to buy peace with them… but, in the past year, these deals with extremists have broken down.
(ID: AHMED RASHID, Journalist)
AHMED RASHID: This dual policy that he’s had with the militants – that is, at times attacking them because of American pressure to do so and at times having cease fires with them, relieving them, giving them compensation and money – all this has led to acute demoralization in the army. It has led to these mass desertions that we’ve seen from the military and the paramilitary forces. It’s led to these surrenders. It’s also led to acute demoralization amongst the public, where the public now thinks that the army is both unwilling and incapable of fighting the extremists.
Back in the capital, Islamabad, Musharraf rules from his sprawling presidential complex.
He’d allowed the insurgency in Swat to get out of control…in part because he’d been preoccupied with preserving his own power.
For most of last year, he’s faced a constitutional crisis. The Supreme Court here was about to prevent him from running for president again.
That’s when he declared a state of emergency… his first move wasn’t sending troops against Fazlullah in Swat… it was firing his Supreme Court… and arresting thousands of lawyers who supported the judges.
At this demonstration in Islamabad, the men in black suits are lawyers. They’re protesting outside Pakistan’s election commission…demanding an end to Musharraf’s nine years of military rule.
The police attacked them almost immediately.
By the fall, it had become almost routine to see protesting lawyers beaten by the police.
This is one of the main targets of the crackdown - the most famous lawyer in Pakistan, Aitzaz Ahsan.
A policeman has just hit him in the stomach with a brick. His aides are hustling him away from the danger.
I’d spoken with Ahsan earlier, when the lawyer’s movement was just beginning.
(I.D. Aitzaz Ahsan, Leader of Lawyer's Movement)
Aitzaz Ahsan: General Musharraf is probably the most unpopular man the country has seen in a very, very long time. And it is unanimously -- all political parties, all political cadres, all shades, all classes, all professions, are there. This movement is led by the lawyers, who are a liberal, educated, enlightened body, by and large. They share Western values, like due process, independence of the judiciary, rule of law, sovereignty of parliament, fair and free elections. They share these, but the West isn't noticing them. The West can't see beyond Pervez Musharraf, unfortunately.
In November, Ahsan was picked up by the police… and, at the time of my visit, he’d been under house arrest…
To see him, you have to walk past a series of policemen, stationed at his house day and night. We’re not supposed to film, but we did anyway.
Inside we met the lawyer’s spokesman.
DAVID MONTERO: Explain this, we are in Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan’s house…
MAN: This is the office of Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, and the other area is his residence. And there is his sub-jail, I cannot show you the sub-jail.
He led us down the hall to where Aitzaz Ahsan is under lock and key.
His voice has been silenced. He’s not even allowed to talk with his family.
The guard wouldn’t let us in.
But we did speak to Ahsan’s son, Ali, who told us the dramatic story of how his father was arrested in the middle of the night.
(ID: ALI AHSAN, Son of Aitzaz Ahsan)
ALI AHSAN: These men just walked in and grabbed him, grabbed his phone and said give us that and you’re coming with us. I protested that you can’t mis-manhandle him like that. The moment I even tried to say something like that, one of them just picked up his gun, it was a pump-action shotgun, pumped it, and put it to my chest and said I will shoot you.
The lawyers continue to hold demonstrations, this one led by Ahsan’s wife, Bushra, and her son Ali.
Many believe that Musharraf didn’t need the state of emergency to take on the extremists. They say he declared it in order to silence the democratic opposition.
AHMED RASHID: The entire crackdown was against the middle classes of the country, the lawyers, the politicians, the professionals, the NGOS, who were protesting and demanding constitutional rule. So this was a move done, I think, very blatantly in order to keep himself in power.
And then came Benazir Bhutto, who had emerged as Musharraf’s biggest political challenger yet…
BHUTTO: “Friends, why can’t we take care of [Pakistan]? This is our country. You’ll take care of it, I’ll take care of it! You will save it, I will save it!
During her brief campaign for prime minister, she had become an outspoken critic of Musharraf’s failures in dealing with extremists.
The world would soon know what happened next as she waved one last time to this crowd in Rawalpindi.
Bhutto and twenty other people were killed that day.
(WEB TAG: More on Pakistan’s violent history)
Her death is still being investigated, but Musharraf blamed the Taliban and Maulana Fazlullah.
In the aftermath, rioting ensued… and, for a moment, Pakistan edged toward chaos…
Bhutto’s death was one the whole world heard about. But there was another assassination the very next day. It happened in the Swat valley.
A bomb had exploded…moments after a campaign rally.
The victims were rushed to a small rural clinic.
CRYING MAN: When I got out of the car I didn't find anybody alive. // How many are
dead? // A total of 8 dead. Everyone was dead.
It was the Prince of Swat, Asfandiar, the man who’d stood up to Fazlullah.
As he was out campaigning, his car was blown up by a remote-controlled bomb.
When word spread of Asfandiar’s death, thousands of people gathered at his home.
Their shock and pain magnified by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto the day before.
Her death had stunned the world, but here in Swat, Asfandiar’s death was more deeply felt.
This is Asfandiar’s brother.
(ID: SHAHRYAR AMIR ZEB, Brother of Asfandiar)
SHAHRYAR AMIR ZEB: Obviously we are still in a state of shock, because if it had been a normal death of an illness, or an accident, it would have been acceptable. But it was something extremely gruesome and it will obviously take me and my family, his wife and his children, my mother, some time to absorb this shock, to absorb what has happened.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assassination.
But most people blame Maulana Fazlullah.
Asfandiar’s brother vows that his family will not be deterred by terrorism.
SHAHYRAR AMIR ZEB: I will not let my brother’s hard work, and let alone the hard work he died in it. I will not let this legacy die. I won’t let his hard work go to waste.
Since Asfandiar’s death, three more Swat politicians have been targeted in bomb attacks… and Fazlullah has been blamed for them all.
Before leaving Swat, on a rainy afternoon, I visited Asfandiar’s grave. He is now buried among his ancestors, the royal family of Swat.
As the extremist continue to threaten Pakistan, I wonder if a new moderate voice will emerge here to oppose them…
ANNOUNCER: Later tonight, in Cuba, a new generation of artists finds a way to turn a profit.
ANNOUNCER: But first…in Russia, a ragtag group of democrats fights to get on the ballot.
RUSSIA: PUTIN’S PLAN
Reported by Victoria Gamburg
It's election season in Russia…
It was supposed to be a clean sweep… President Putin was supposed to step down after two terms in office…
But then late last year, I began to see billboards around Moscow proclaiming Putin's greatness …
It was the start of an all-out Kremlin campaign to keep Putin in power….complete with a catchy pop song…
SOT SONG: “I want a man like Putin, who’s full of strength. I want a man like Putin, who doesn’t drink. I want a man like Putin, who won’t make me sad. I want a man like Putin, who won’t run away.”
Part rock star, part tsar… President Putin entered this Moscow stadium the most popular leader in modern Russian history…
He’s brought Russians new prosperity, after a decade of drift…and restored the country's standing as a world power…
At this event, President Putin surrounded himself with young supporters to announce a new plan¾to give up the presidency, but hold onto power…
SOT PUTIN: “In the next few months, the entire government of Russia will be reshuffled. And for this to happen in the right way, we must have victory!”
SOT CROWD: Russia! Russia!
The details are vague… but this handpicked young crowd seems wildly enthusiastic… I wonder if they’re buying the Kremlin’s message outside this hall…
SAKEN: It’s Putin’s party’s campaign material. It’s called “Putin’s Plan.”
My friend Saken thinks Putin’s plan looks suspiciously Soviet…
SAKEN: Look at all these beautiful pictures. Everything is wonderful. Everybody knows this person. Look here, we’re building airplanes. We’re building dams. What conclusions can you make if this is what you’re reading every day? And this is what you see on TV? You won’t know anything about the country you live in.
SAKEN: Things are tense here.
Saken is a radio reporter…
Today he's covering a conference of Putin's most vocal opponents…
It’s an unlikely coalition of democrats, radicals, and neo-communists…
SOT MAN: The Kremlin’s thievery and corruption are the country’s greatest problems.
They call themselves Other Russia and they’re united mainly by their disdain for Putin.
MAN AT PODIUM: Give us free elections without corrupted, prostituted parties!
SAKEN: This is democracy in action. It's a very lively picture. We haven't seen this in public for a long time.
KASPAROV: The bureaucrats who rob the country and take the money abroad, need to remember their free lunch is over!
The emerging face of Other Russia is Garry Kasparov.
Once the world's greatest chess master, he's now dedicating his life to bringing down Putin.
Kasparov: We may not succeed fully in our fight, but bringing Russia back to democracy is very important, not only for my country, but or the rest of the world. We’re not fighting to win elections now. We’re fighting to have elections. But it’s a very important step forward.
At the close of the convention….Other Russia nominates Kasparov to be its first presidential candidate.
KASPAROV: Our task is to prevent the Kremlin from destroying our country. There is nobody who can do this but us.
Now one of several opposition candidates, Kasparov’s a political target…
CROWD SOT: Go back to playing chess! Stop selling out Russia!
Just outside, a crowd has already formed to heckle him. I’m surprised to hear children shouting political slogans.
CROWD SOT: We need Putin's Russia!
But then my friend Saken tells me Kremlin-sponsored organizers paid these kids $4 each to join the protest.
CROWD SOT: I love Russia!
SAKEN: You can manipulate these people anyway you want. I feel sorry for them. Not because they support these views. These views have a right to be heard. But because these people don’t understand what they’re standing for. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to yell, “Yankee go home!”
CROWD SOT: Kasparov, go back to America!
Despite Kremlin tactics…. Kasparov attempts to take his campaign to the people…
RADIO: Listen to Garry Kasparov on "Counterpunch!"
HOST: Garry, please put on your headphones. On “Counterpunch” you'll be answering questions and you can ask some too.
He’s become a frequent guest on Saken’s radio station, Echo of Moscow…
The only place left in Putin's Russia where the opposition can broadcast anti-Kremlin views…
KASPAROV: Of course, we’re all afraid. We know the government will do almost anything for self-preservation. But someone must speak out. Someone's got to change all this.
KASPAROV: Echo of Moscow is the last remaining media outlet that offering its platform for different political groups in Russia. It’s the last voice¾echo¾of all forces which are fighting the regime.
The problem is that only 2% of Russians listen to Echo and Kasparov claims he and others are blacklisted almost everywhere else.
KASPAROV on radio: What do you think? Should we discuss our differences?
LISTENER: Of course.
KASPAROV on radio: So then, why is there a blacklist on TV, where a whole array of people are forbidden to talk on air? My views should be important and get on air, too. Not only on Echo, but on other mass media outlets too.
HOST: Sorry I need to interrupt you. I'm not censoring you. It's time for news. We'll be back after this break.
The media landscape in Russia is bleak … over the last few years, opposing view points have been forced off the airwaves.
And when it comes to network television, it’s said the Kremlin has the last word in deciding who gets on air.
Vladimir Pozner has been working for state television since the Soviet era…and for a time, he hosted a show on American TV…
Now, under Putin, he hosts one of Russia's last live opinion programs.
VICTORIA GAMBURG: What is the topic of the show today?
POZNER: The topic of the show is Putin. It's really a unique phenomenon. Here's a guy who says okay I'm going to respect the Constitution, hats off. And then he says, but, I’m going to be the leader of the country and doesn't say how or what. Interesting. Let's go guys.
I'm intrigued. Pozner seems critical of Putin.
SOT POZNER: Good evening, I’m Vladimir Pozner.
But once the camera starts rolling, his questioning tone changes…and none of his guests voice a single controversial opinion.
EROFEYEV: I think the country is on an optimistic path, maybe even hedonistic.
Pozner tells me his show is like a Russian "Meet the Press" but to me it seemed like everything came from a very Kremlin friendly point of view.
ASTAKHOV: Everybody knows, over the last eight years, our country has become more stable. Life has become more predictable. No matter who they are, people say, “We want to continue Putin’s course.”
I ask Pozner if he’d be willing to have opposition figures like Garry Kasparov on his show… but he told me that right now, most of them are just not ready for prime time…
POZNER: Today there is a golden boy in Russia and that golden boy is Putin. And as long as he’s going to be golden, opposition, well, it’ll be there, it’ll make noise, but it’s not going to be able to get a lot of votes.
After the show, I ask the audience if they wanted to hear from the opposition.
WOMAN: I don't know what Putin's opponents think about him.
REPORTER:Why don't you know?
WOMAN: I don't know why. I haven't seen them on TV for a long time. I honestly don’t know what they think about him.
REPORTER:Doesn’t it bother you that you don’t see them on TV? The parliamentary speaker is on every day and Kasparov is never on.
WOMAN: I think the speaker is more sexy and interesting. Kasparov is not my type. I don’t mind that I don’t see him on TV.
POZNER: I am a person who follows public opinion polls very closely and what you will find, always, without exception, is that freedom of speech is down at the bottom of the list. Most people, in this country today, I would say the overwhelming majority, really don't care about it.
This is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It’s not the democracy many in the west hoped for…
But most Russians seem to prefer it to the hardships after communism…
And, in this election year, the Kremlin wants to make sure it stays that way…
This P.R. video tells young people to join a Kremlin-sponsored youth camp.
Putin himself is a regular guest…
The campers learn to demonize the Kremlin’s enemies.
SOT: We have many wild dogs in Russia.”
And that enemies must be vanquished.
SOT: How do you deal with wild dogs? It’s a serious question.
I was curious to see this camp for myself. This past summer I took a midnight press bus 300 kilometers north of Moscow.
As soon as I got there, I was introduced to my guide.
I followed her to a field where youth from all over Russia had gathered.
The mornings began with mass exercises.
The young women danced to pop tunes.
At 10am everyone headed back to their tents to get ready for a full day of ideological lectures.
Everyone here is a member of a Kremlin-funded youth group called Nashi.
GUIDE: Nashi means “our people.” Wherever you go, you will be accepted as part of our big family.
It all seems quite innocent… but the Kremlin takes this very seriously…
Nashi was founded a few years earlier out of a fear that young people might be tempted by the opposition.
This explains Nashi's heavy emphasis on the Kremlin's three main political opponents —lampooned here on Nashi's main drag.
The one in the black corset is Garry Kasparov.
Our guide tells us what she’s been taught to say about them.
GUIDE: These people are the fascists of our country. They betrayed Russia. Here we see Limonov, Kasyanov, and Kasparov. They say, “Yes, I’m a fascist. I admit it.” They march against the country. All they say is what they don’t like and Putin should be overthrown. But they don’t offer any concrete ideas. All they do is reject.
(ID: “Nashi” video)
Some have said that Nashi is a throwback to Soviet youth leagues, and this video from last summer shows military training and even mass weddings at the camp.
SOT WOMAN: Meet, fall in love, get married, and have babies!
SOT NASHI FOUNDER: Your legacy will be many children and a huge country!
Here, Nashi’s founder urges newlyweds to fix Russia’s population problem by boarding a raft full of tents to make babies right away.
BOY: We’re building the future of a great Russia. That’s our main goal. We’re all patriots here. We want to develop our country. We deserve our rightful place in the world. Maybe even in the galaxy.
NASTYA: It’s frightening. It seems like a cult.
Anastasia, an independent journalist, was with me that day to try to understand the new Putin generation…
NASTYA: I don’t judge them. I can understand them. Though I wouldn’t have chosen their path. But I was raised in a different time. If I were growing up today, I don’t know what path I would’ve taken. But I’m not from the Putin generation. I’m from the Yeltsin generation.
Back in Moscow, as election season heats up in the fall…well-trained Nashi members would do their job.
They would become a political force on the streets, intimidating the Kremlin's political opponents, flying the flag whenever called upon.
SOT: Putin! Putin! Putin!
Meanwhile, the opposition struggles to attract many young people to their rallies.
MAN: Our constitution has been reduced to nothing! The voting rights of our citizens are being eliminated!
Even as they continue to make election speeches, the Kremlin makes it increasingly difficult for them to get on the presidential ballot.
SOT: Parliament gets its marching orders from the Kremlin. There is no real government. The courts are no longer independent. The media are under great pressure. Censorship rules throughout the land.
One by one, the democratic presidential hopefuls would be eliminated.
By winter, time has begun to run out for the remaining opposition to get on the ballot.
Every week, it seems, the Kremlin comes up with new road blocks.
I watch Garry Kasparov grow increasingly desperate.
At his campaign headquarters… the former chess champion plots his next move…
KASPAROV SOT: If we leave our logo here, there could be problems. Of course, the pamphlet will be confiscated.
He’s playing a complicated game with the Kremlin and the media…to try to raise his coalition’s profile.
KASPAROV: We’re organizing more marches, and when the government is bringing thousands and thousands of special police troops from all over the country and literally introducing martial law in the center of Moscow, that’s a story.
Not long after, the first part of Kasparov’s plan pays off.
During a protest march in Moscow, he’s arrested.
SOT TV: Kasparov was charged with two counts, organizing an illegal march and resisting arrest.
He’s finally gotten the tv stations to pay attention.
The next day, his supporters plan another march. This one in St. Petersburg.
On my way to the protestors’ headquarters, I drive by thousands of riot police taking up positions all over downtown…
Meanwhile, Kasparov’s representative holds a press conference to draw attention to the Kremlin’s tactics…
SOT PRESS CONFERENCE: We have military equipment and riot police on our streets. This is out of fear. The government fears people won’t accept a return to a one-party system. Not everyone is ready to accept Putin’s cult of personality.
SOt: It’s started, let’s go.
Kasparov’s strategy seems to be working: there are as many journalists here as marchers…
As the marchers make their way to the city center, the police move into position. Suddenly a group of young men appear holding up the flag of the banned national Bolshevik party.
SOT: Russia without Putin!
SOT: Put that flag away.
The police see the flag and move in.
SOT: Arrest everybody.
March organizers later told me they suspected the “Bolsheviks” were planted by the police to give them an excuse to crackdown on Kasparov’s group.
SAKEN: Maybe Kasparov, a great chess master, can strategize 300 steps ahead, but I can’t. He says very smart, incisive things, even wonderful things. But what can he really do? Still, it’s better to have some kind of opposition than none at all. I don’t remember the Soviet Union. I was born in 1984. But I'd say that many of our maladies and ways of thinking are still the same.
SOT WOMAN: And if they ordered you to shoot, would you shoot everybody?
The confrontation was covered on that night’s news, just as Kasparov hoped…but it didn’t matter…
Not long after this protest march, the Kremlin officially ended Kasparov's presidential bid, keeping him off the ballot on a technicality…
Still, Kasparov thinks Russia may yet have its democratic moment…
KASPAROV: We can disagree whether it's authoritarian regime, dictatorship, but it's a regime that undemocratic. Nobody argues about that. But Russia I don’t think yet made its final choice. I think we are still in the process of reshaping our statehood and I don’t think that Putin regime will last for a long time.
Toward the end of my time in Russia, President Putin revealed the latest part of his plan…
Putin chose a young protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, to run as his successor…
The next day, Medvedev made his first announcement, and it surprised no one…
SOT MEDVEDEV: The only way to bring our plan to life is to work with our plan’s author, Vladimir Putin.
He named Vladimir Putin his prime minister…
SOT MEDVEDEV: I’m sincerely happy that Vladimir Putin has accepted my offer.
Then Putin made an announcement of his own…he said he would like to remain prime minister indefinitely...
ANNOUNCER: Finally, tonight in Cuba, it’s good to be an artist.
CUBA: THE ART REVOLUTION
Reported by Natasha del Toro
For almost five centuries, the lighthouse on the tip of Havana's coast has served as a symbol of this island nation—a country known for revolution, its time capsuled-cars and of course, its music.
But I've come to Cuba to find out about a new revolution-a revolution in Cuban art.
Art has always been at the heart of Cuban culture. Under Castro, it became a tool to spread socialist ideals.
His government opened free art schools and cultural centers for the masses.
But in the 1990s, art became a tool for profit. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba lost Russian subsidies and Castro turned to tourism and U.S. dollars for economic relief. The Cuban art scene exploded into big business.
For the first time, artists started profiting from international sales and emerged into a class of their own.
MARCO CASTILLO: Lawyers don’t live as well as artists here, you know. It's the reverse of what happens in other parts of the world.
Marco Castillo is one of Cuba's most recognized artists. He and Dagoberto Rodríguez are in a successful art duo called Los Carpinteros, or the carpenters, for their hand-crafted objects and sculptures.
SOT NATASHA: Hola, soy Natasha Del Toro…
I met Los Carpinteros at their home in Havana. These days they're leading lives most Cubans only dream about…. In a country where few citizens can even afford to fix their cars, Dagoberto and Marco have money to spare…and they've been allowed to travel in and out of Cuba to art events around the world.
But before the art market boom, Los Carpinteros struggled like everyone else in Cuba during the hard times of the early 90s.
(ID: DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ, Artist, Los Carpinteros)
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: No food, no light. No public transport. Horrible situation, economical.
Art materials were also scarce, so Los Carpinteros helped themselves to houses abandoned by rich Cubans, who fled the island when Castro took over.
MARCO CASTILLO: There were a lot of interesting materials like marble and wood.
And all kinds of things. So for us it was a paradise. We didn’t just break into houses... we also cut down...
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: Breaking in sounds a little…
MARCO CASTILLO: Well…what would you call it?
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: Creepy.
MARCO CASTILLO: What would you call it?
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: It was low-grade robbery.
They also scavenged the woods in their art school's backyard, once the site of the old Havana Country Club. Los Carpinteros used the stolen materials for their first art works.
Like this early piece, where they painted themselves playing golf using sticks instead of clubs…a subversive comment on the upper class Cuban lifestyle.
(WEB TAG: More art by Los Carpinteros)
Los Carpinteros challenged the socialist system using irony and humor. Like this hot seat sofa, and a jewelry case grenade.
(ID: CUBAN STATE TV)
The international art world caught their first glimpse of Cuba's new visual artists, at the 1994 Havana Biennial, a contemporary art festival that set off a wave of sales.
DAN CAMERON: There was this kind of frenzy in terms of the buying up of Cuban art.
(ID: DAN CAMERON Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans)
DAN CAMERON: Before you left for Cuba, what you did was you kind of cashed out a bank roll of several dozen hundred dollar bills and you just kind of kept that in your pocket, and you just sort of peeled off a couple hundreds here and there when you entered the studio of an artist who you thought was doing really good work.
Los Carpinteros were discovered at that show and their careers quickly skyrocketed.
Today, their sculptures and paintings are featured in museums around the world, including MOMA's permanent collection in New York.
It also sells at high-end auctions.
(ID: NOEL SMITH Latin Am. Art Curator, Univ. of South Florida)
NOEL SMITH: You know their sculpture sells for $50,000, the uniques. Their big drawings sell for $20-$25,000.
That's an unbelievable amount by Cuban standards, especially when you consider the average Cuban doctor makes around $30 a month.
One of their boldest pieces, the fallen lighthouse, sold to the Tate gallery in London for $100,000. It's Los Carpinteros' take on the famous Cuban landmark.
Surprisingly, the government has let them cash in on art that criticizes Cuba's socialist revolution.
MARCO CASTILLO: A lighthouse isn't supposed to be lying on its side, fallen, suffering. It's not supposed to, you'll never see that. Of course it has to do with social commentary…I don't want this country to be right wing. I'd like it to continue being socialist. But, I’d like to tell leftist fanatics this isn’t the paradise that they dream it to be. This is a very difficult country and that it needs to change.
Speaking out about politics in Cuba can land you in trouble, but when asked what kinds of changes he would propose, Marco did not flinch.
MARCO CASTILLO: Well, for example, a new government, for starters.
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: Oh, goodness, that Marco. Marco wants to change politics.
As Cuba has gained prominence in the global art market, the Cuban government has managed to improve its own image.
Ironically, it was the United States that was now causing Los Carpinteros problems.
(ID: MARCO CASTILLO, Artist, Los Carpinteros)
MARCO CASTILLO: In a few days, we're going to have an opening…And we don't have the visa, yet. We had a show at the Guggenheim, we had a show in Tampa, which is a solo show, a big solo show of Los Carpinteros in the United Sates that is traveling now, and we were not able to go. So this is what is happening. But the work is still going on.
Under President Bush, many Cuban artists have been kept out of the U.S. Los Carpinteros say that the travel restrictions are undermining the cultural ties that they and others have been trying to build with America.
DAGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ: It’s not working in political terms, it's doing nothing. The only thing it's doing is cutting the interchange of ideas, which is very important in this moment for this country.
MARCO CASTILLO: For both countries.
While the world waits to see what will happen with Cuba, Los Carpinteros wait to see if their visas come through or if their art will have to travel without them.
NOEL SMITH: When it was clear that they weren't going to get their visas, I said, "Well, what should I tell them in Chicago? Is there anything special I should tell them?" They said, "No, just tell them we'll see them after the Revolution."
ANNOUNCER: There's more of the world to explore on our website. Learn more about the new face of the Taliban in Pakistan. Find profiles of Russian opposition politicians, see more of the art by Los Carpinteros, and read interviews and dispatches from our reporters. Discuss the world and tell us what you think of our stories from a small planet at PBS.org