The new season of Frontline/World debuts tonight (Thurs. Oct. 30 – check local PBS listings) with two stories which in some ways are as scary as any of the horror movies written about on this site.
One segment is a 30 minute excerpt from the hour long Life After War which follows former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes as she works with Afghans for Civil Society as she tries to rebuild a village. I’ll write more about it when the full version airs on the Sundance Channel starting December 1st (though if you don’t get Sundance, definately watch it tonight or when it goes online Monday).
Chayes was interviewed on Fresh Air in May when the documentary was being shown at film festivals. She was interviewed on the Connection Wednesday. Chayes wrote about the period the documentary crew was following her for the Christian Science Monitor (and there are a series of letter from her on the AFCS site.
There is a transcript of an interview from last week’s NOW (and there are a bunch of links at the bottom of this bio). You can listen to her reporting for NPR on Afghanistan (her last story was in January of 2000).
I’ll let Stephen Talbot describe the other segment:
Blame it on the Kremlin.
We were putting the finishing touches on our latest episode of
FRONTLINE/World last Friday and starting to write our newsletter to you, when suddenly we learned that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia, and the central figure in our story about Russia’s new entrepreneurs and tycoons, had been arrested by government security agents.
The circumstances of his arrest were dramatic — troops stormed
his private jet during a refueling stop in Siberia and hauled him off to
jail in Moscow — and the consequences immediate. The Russian stock market plunged, the U.S. ambassador protested, and ExxonMobil curtailed negotiations about buying into Khodorkovsky’s oil company, Yukos.
It was a stunning development in the ongoing power struggle between President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s “oligarchs,” the billionaires who preside over the country’s raucous new capitalism.
We had to delay our newsletter and “halt the presses” (actually, reboot the AVID editing machine) — and spend the last four days re-editing and re-writing our story, “Rich in Russia,” with our New York Times correspondent Sabrina Tavernise, who is the only American journalist to gain a recent TV interview with Khodorkovsky. The 40-year-old oil tycoon, worth an estimated $8 billion, now faces 10 years in prison on charges of tax evasion and fraud — charges he denies and says are politically-motivated.
“I like conducting business in an open way,” Khodorkovsky tells
FRONTLINE/World, but he says he played by different rules when he
accumulated his vast wealth during the wild days of “privatization”
after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “I admit that prior to 1992 I
functioned differently. I was not breaking Russian laws, but I was still
careless. At that time, Russian law allowed us to do things that were
unthinkable in the Western business world.”
Tavernise also tracks down fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a media tycoon who was recently granted political asylum in London, and who claims there have been at least three plots to kill him.
They’ve already put an article online and streaming video of the segment will be online Monday if you miss it on PBS. Frontline/World is scheduled to air once a month this season. Talbot’s newsletter is worth subscribing to (you can fill in your email at the bottom of the frontpage of the show’s site).