Taking a Stand: Garry Kasparov
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fergal Keane’s interview with Garry Kasparov was broadcast on BBC Radio 4”sTaking a Stand. The programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 09.00 GMT on Tuesday, 13 January 2008.

BBC Radio 4’s Taking a Stand profiles people who have taken risks and made sacrifices to stand up for what they believe in. Presenter Fergal Keane met the Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov, to discuss his move into politics.

On first meeting Garry Kasparov I become convinced that our interview will be a difficult encounter.

He does not come across as one of life’s warmer souls. There was a perfunctory handshake but not even a glimmer of a smile before he disappeared into another room to prepare himself.

How was it then that an hour later I was the one insisting that yes we had everything we needed for the interview while he offered contact numbers and emails and talked us all the way to the door and beyond?

The answer to the question is the most famous name in modern Russia: Vladimir Putin.

Garry Kasparov was one of the most exalted names in Russia when he made the most fateful decision of his life.

It would lead to him being arrested, beaten and thrown into jail. The mention of Mr Putin’s name produces a remarkable transformation from brooding chess genius to a master of rhetorical fury.

“Putin’s regime is doomed,” he declares. “My country will pay a huge price for having this regime ruin the country, looting it, destroying it.”

Life after chess

Mr Kasparov was often spoken of as the greatest chess player of all time but he retired from the game in 2005. At that point he had money and immense prestige and could have enjoyed an easy life.

“I had been thinking about my future, not necessarily political future…I was approaching 40 and I had to think about something where I could make the difference.”

Here is the full story.

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