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This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, November 4, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.


GARRY KASPAROV, CHESS GRANDMASTER: It is an act of intimidation. It is an act of harassment. It is illegal under international law. There is no justification for it and it is an outrage.


DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: What Kasparov is talking about is the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky (search), Russia's richest oil tycoon, that is shaking the confidence of Russian investors. Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov (search) has been a keen observer of Russian affairs. And that is today's big question, Garry Kasparov, is Russia becoming a dictatorship again? Gary, good to see you.

KASPAROV: Thanks for having me.

ASMAN: What do you think? Is it slipping back into dictatorship?

KASPAROV: Absolutely. Today, Russia is effectively a police state, a country where inadequate laws are used selectively to suppress any political opposition.

ASMAN: Now, a police state. It's a strong expression. You certainly know the meaning of it. There isn't the same kind of gulag that the old Communist system had right?

KASPAROV: This is the 21st century. You can't afford to do the same things that Stalin did. When you look at the different actions employed by Putin's regime, it is quite similar. It is a modified version of dictatorship in the 21st century. You can compare it sort of Latin American dictatorships in '60s, '70s and '80s.

ASMAN: It's not like a Communist dictatorship?

KASPAROV: No, it is not a Communist dictatorship, but it's heading in a direction now of totalitarian-authoritarian regime.

ASMAN: Now, you wrote a piece called "KGB State." Of course, Putin is a former KGB agent. And he said something once that you quoted in the article that there are no ex-KGB officers. You think that he still has the mentality and the heart of the KGB.

KASPAROV: He doesn't hide it. He doesn't hide it. If you look at the materials published by his party called United Russia, they pretend that the whole Russian Soviet history it is our heritage. And they even used among other pictures Joseph Stalin.

ASMAN: Now, he says going after these big time billionaires like Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He is an oil tycoon. He is about 40 years old and he is already a billionaire.

KASPAROV: He is two months younger than I am.

ASMAN: Did he become a billionaire legally or did he, in fact, break some laws?

KASPAROV: That's a very good question. And I have no definite answer. Khodorkovsky was not alone. If we tried to investigate everything that happened in '92, '93, '94, '95, we should bring everybody in.

ASMAN: But what Putin is saying is, hey, you guys in American go after Martha Stewart, not that she did something unique, but we have to make an example. Isn't that what he is doing with Khodorkovsky?

KASPAROV: No, it's not example, because to the contrary, Khodorkovsky was the first one, sort of the pioneer who said, enough is enough guys. I am making Yukos transparent. Yukos today is the most transparent ...

ASMAN: Yukos is the oil company that he started.

KASPAROV: It is the most transparent company operating by the Western standards. Khodorkovsky was the first one to declare his real wealth and he is paying taxes on it. And Khodorkovsky publicly said, I am supporting those opposition parties, so while other oligarchs -- and there are many of them -- they are still living, you know, in all the shadowy world. They are bringing suitcases of money to Kremlin, supporting Kremlin official party in the parliament. They are not paying taxes. They hate transparency. And by the way, Putin has publicly denouncing any claims of making Gasprom, the largest Russian state-owned company transparent.

ASMAN: All right, we only have two minutes. And I want to get on to your virtual reality chess (search). But last question, is Russia going to go back into dictatorship, or is there any hope for democracy there?

KASPAROV: There is always a hope. There is a glimpse of hope. But it depends not only on us, but on the position of the civilized democratic world.

ASMAN: All right, you are the highest rated chess player in all history. And you are coming up with this thing where you have wear these weird glasses to play virtual reality chess. What is that?

KASPAROV: It's the same concept, man versus machine. But today I have to deal not only with the computer itself but also with this virtual reality. It is a 3D picture, and I will not be playing using a normal chess set, not writing the moves on the score sheet, not pushing the chess club, but I will be doing my moves, you know, it is a voice recognition machine. And I have to get my mind adjusted to this very new absurd reality.

ASMAN: What do you see when you look through here? It blanks out my television screen.

KASPAROV: You will see a 3D picture, and eventually the board comes out of the screen. So it's sort of real but at the end of the day it is highly unusual. So that's why I have to deal with the psychological inconvenience.

ASMAN: Now you have won and you have lost against machines, correct?


ASMAN: More wins and losses, but let me just ask, when you were playing with a machine could you ever sense some kind of conscience thought on the part of the machine or was it always just a program that you know had been put into the machine? Did it ever make a conscience decision?

KASPAROV: It is getting stronger and stronger. So that's why we may call it conscious, but ironically every machine has very difficult characteristics. Machines are less flexible than human players. That is why most of the most machines, you know, one machine or another by looking at some of the games. They have sort of a "character."
ASMAN: And that must spook you right?

KASPAROV: Yes, but ...

ASMAN: OK, Garry Kasparov, great to have you on Garry. Good luck against the machine.

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