Ukraine today is a scene for political unrest, but almost a century ago it was the setting for one of the greatest films of all time – "Battleship Potemkin," the 1925 silent movie masterwork by Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein.
Click above to hear why "Battleship Potemkin" was more than propaganda.
By Mick Krever, CNN
A phone call between former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been the deciding factor in the Ukrainian leader changing his "attitude" towards the protests in Kiev, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
Sikorski was intimately involved in the negotiations that brought a truce between Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition, and gave Amanpour an insider’s view of the talks.
“President Yanukovych left us several times to talk to [U.S.] Vice President Biden, [German] Chancellor Merkel, and indeed President Putin,” Sikorski said. “One of the breakthroughs was when we said, ‘Well look, Mr. President, you have to declare to the opposition by when you agree for new presidential elections to be held, by when do you intend to shorten your term of office.’”
“He was very reluctant, as you might imagine,” Sikorski said. “His attitude changed after one of the conversations, we think, with President Putin.”
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski about Ukraine's future.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Russian President Vladimir Putin has no incentive to interfere militarily in Ukraine and cannot be blamed for “inflaming the situation” that led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“Why would Putin want to have instability in Ukraine, which is bordering Russia?”
“The infighting has started” in the new interim government, Nekrassov said. “It will continue.”
Nekrassov worked for President Boris Yeltsin during the massive upheaval of the 90s, and more recently he's been an advisor to the Russian Government on closer ties with the west.
Ukraine remains in the grip of crisis three days after a popular uprising drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power.
The opposition has again delayed naming a new interim government after pledging to do so Tuesday.
There are discouraging reports of political disarray and parliamentary squabbling, and the ousted president is still missing.
Yanukovych “had only one year left in office,” Nekrassov said. “He would have probably lost that election. Why was there need for sudden change of power?”
“You know, President Hollande of France is even less popular. We don’t call on him to be removed.”
Former Kremlin Adviser Alexander Nekrassov tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour being unpopular is no reason to be ousted.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour talks to UK Foreign Secretary about the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
By Dominique van Heerden, CNN
As heads of state met in London for a major anti-poaching conference, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about everything from poaching, to conflict in the Central African Republic and Syria, and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The British government has just hosted the Illegal Wildlife Trading Conference in the hopes they, along with affected countries, can find a solution to protect the world’s most iconic species from extinction, because “we are in the eleventh hour”.
“Rhino populations have been devastated with one killed every ten or eleven hours at the moment. The illegal trade in ivory has doubled in the last six years,” Hague tells Amanpour.
Incidents of poaching are on the rise fueled by a growing demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia.
There are also concerns that poaching is helping to fund violent groups in the region.
When asked what he expected to be different after this conference, Hague says this is a “turning point,” citing an important combination of measures that African countries are going to take, including destroying stockpiles of ivory.
And it’s not just African countries who have pledged to take action; he says the countries through whom these products are transported have committed to do more to intercept illegal ivory and “treat the trade as serious organized crime”.
“This is a moral issue that these great animals have as much right to inhabit this world as we do…”
Crisis in the Central African Republic
Another major problem stalking the African continent is the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic, where the United Nations is warning of “ethnic cleansing” as fighting between Muslims and Christians spirals out of control.
Although there are already French troops in the country, and thousands of African forces are being deployed, Hague says they need more help, and “more help is coming from Europe”.
Britain will not be sending troops to the Central African Republic though, instead they will help with humanitarian aid and logistical support, “but other European countries are going to do more,” Hague tells Amanpour, and he says it is “absolutely crucial” to have the involvement and support of other African states.
Assad “not intending to budge”
Christiane Amanpour also spoke to the UK’s Foreign Secretary about Syria, and the lack of progress in trying to find a solution to the country’s civil war. As the latest round of Geneva talks failed to bring about any notable progress, William Hague says President Bashar al-Assad is “clearly not intending to budge”.
“This has gone backwards and forwards over three years now. And so I think it would be a mistake for this regime to think it’s now so strong it doesn’t need to do anything.”
Britain is still providing help to the opposition, “practical support that isn’t lethal,” Hague says.
“We’ve never taken the position in any of these conflicts that we send lethal supplies. And it’s very hard for us to guarantee what happens to those lethal supplies. And that, of course, is a major difficulty for us.”
He adds that he is “not holding out any prospect” of changing position on lethal supplies in the near future, but says that Britain does want to be able to send “more practical support of other kinds that saves lives”.
The conflict in Syria is creeping closer to home for Britain where there are reports of British nationals traveling to Syria to fight in the war. Hague calls these reports “credible”.
“Hundreds of people from Britain and many other Western countries involved in going to fight in Syria and that is a huge concern for us,” he says.
Asked how he plans to tackle the problem, Hague tells Amanpour there are some actions they can take, like depriving people of their passports and canceling visas for those who are resident in the UK, who they “believe are a threat”.
But ultimately, he says, “the solution lies in resolving the conflict in Syria… That is the only long-term answer to this”.
A final thought on Sochi
There was a lot of uproar in the weeks leading up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi over concerns about security and human rights in Russia.
But despite the “differences” between Britain and Russia, William Hague says he wants it all to go well.
“We want any Olympics anywhere in the world to be successful and to be safe,” he says, “and yes we have some differences with Russia over some issues such as LGBT rights, but we want them to succeed in hosting a successful Olympics”.
Click on videos above to watch Amanpour's extensive interview with William Hague.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Despite spending almost two years in a Russian penal colony, two members of the dissident Russian punk group “Pussy Riot” were confident and defiant as ever in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“We were never afraid from the beginning – neither before our imprisonment, nor during it, nor right now,” Masha Alyokhina said. “We have no reasons to be afraid. We are free people, and free people feel no fear.”
Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that they are "free people, and free people feel no fear."
As the Winter Olympics get underway in Sochi, Russia, Alyokhina and her fellow activist Nadya Tolokonnikova are two of the sharpest thorns in President Vladimir Putin’s side.
Like so many host countries before it, Russia has faced a barrage of criticism leading up to the Games – but with Russia it seems personal, and much of the venom is directed as Putin himself.
The West and many Russians are angry about his wholesale assault on human rights – the crackdown on political opponents and dissent, and the harsh treatment of gays.
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were thrown in prison after they were convicted of “hooliganism” and inciting religious hatred for performing a riotous punk song in a Moscow Cathedral – and posting a video of the action online.
“It is a system of slavery,” Tolokonnikova said of the penal colony. “People turn into cogs, into a factory.”
“You have no choice where you will work. You are forced to sow. You have no choice in this matter.”
By Lucky Gold, CNN
Imagine a world where the Cold War may be over, but the Twitter War between the U.S. and Russia is heating up.
As if the two don't have enough to disagree about – such as Syria, Edward Snowden, human rights and political dissent – Pussy Riot has now become a bone of diplomatic contention.
On Wednesday in New York Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, met with Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina at the U.S. Mission to the UN.
She then tweeted this simple message.
When asked about it, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin responded to reporters with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek:
"Hasn't she joined the band yet?" he asked, and then tartly added: "I would expect her to invite them to perform in the National Cathedral in Washington. This is my expectation. Maybe they arrange a world tour for them – St. Peter's cathedral in Rome, then maybe in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and end up with a gala concert at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem."
Part one of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Part two of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Part three of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The transcript of Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev can be found here.
By Mick Krever, CNN
The killings portrayed in photos allegedly proving torture of prisoners by the Assad regime are “crimes,” but it is not clear who is responsible and the claims must be proven in court, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday.
“These are crimes, of course,” Medvedev told Amanpour at his office outside Moscow, but the case “should have firm proof legally.”
“I know there are a lot of victims, and that's very sad, but that does not mean that the existence of victims or victims in a particular place is the proof that those are the victims of the regime and not the bandits who were doing something or any other force.”
The investigation alleging that the Syrian regime is murdering prisoners on a mass scale, first reported by Amanpour on Monday, was authored by a team of international legal and forensic experts and based on thousands of photographs provided by a Syrian defector.
The defector claimed to have worked as a photographer at a military hospital that received dead bodies from detention centers.
Amanpour showed Medvedev gruesome pictures of emaciated corpses and torsos covered from neck to groin in bludgeon wounds.
“You know, in my university where I was studying law, I was taught that until the fact of guilt is proved in court, a person cannot be claimed guilty,” he said.
“We cannot say that Assad is a criminal without investigation,” he told Amanpour. “So probably this other trial should be held on the territory of Syria after the conflict subsides. It's the right of the Syrian people.”
EXCLUSIVE: Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev tells Christiane Amanpour Russia is ready to keep security at the Sochi Olympics.
In an exclusive interview, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Iran should attend a new round of Syria peace talks, a day after its invitation from the UN was rescinded.
Medvedev and Amanpour also spoke about security concerns surrounding the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia; the Prime Minister said that he was aware of the threats, and his country would take them into account during the Games.
Christiane Amanpour's full interview airs Wednesday on CNN International at 7pm GMT.
Part one of Christiane Amanpour's conversation with recently freed Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Part two of Christiane Amanpour's conversation with recently freed Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Part three of Christiane Amanpour's conversation with recently freed Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
By Holly Yan and Dan Wright, CNN
(CNN) - For the first time since his release, Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky is telling the world about the 10 years he spent behind bars as a critic of the Kremlin.
The oil magnate, who backed an opposition party, had been in prison since 2003 and was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion and fraud. He was due for release next year, but President Vladimir Putin signed an amnesty decree for him Friday.
In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, the former Yukos oil tycoon said there were no conditions for his release.
"Mr. Putin, on a number of times, publicly said that he was ready to consider the question of my pardoning - but I had to say I was guilty for that," Khodorkovsky said during the interview in Berlin. "That was an unacceptable condition for me."