Andrew Marr: ‘Deranged’ Putin was one of my smartest interviewees

Andrew Marr has described Vladimir Putin as “one of the smartest men I have ever interviewed” accusing the “deranged” Russian leader of hiding behind his country’s nuclear capability.

The veteran broadcaster, who left the BBC in November last year after 21 years, interviewed Mr Putin in 2014 ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Reflecting on their meeting, Marr told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘He was amazing. He’s got that famous cold, cold look that people talk about, but I’d say listening to him, because he was being interviewed in so many different languages ​​then, he’s one of the smartest men I’ve ever seen. have ever interviewed.

“He may not be anymore, but he was then.

“I was in a slightly disturbed state myself, as I had just interviewed Elton John before leaving for Sochi in Russia.

“If you remember, there was a big gay rights issue at the Winter Olympics, Russians were suspected of being homophobic, and Elton John said ‘Oh, you’re going to see Vladimir Putin.’

“I said yes, and Elton John said, ‘Well, give him a Donna Summer album and a kiss from me.’

“And I thought ‘I can’t really do this’, but it was going through my head while I was talking to Putin. So that was a real moment.

He added: “Over the past 50 years we have faced, as a country, frankly deranged foreign leaders, or people whose mental stability we were unsure of, and we have faced to nuclear threats, but what we haven’t faced before is the two things happening all at once.

“And that’s why this is such a dangerous time for us and for the world.”

Andrew Marr with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

When asked if he thought Mr. Putin was hiding behind the Russian nuclear umbrella, Marr replied: “Exactly. I think the concern here is that there aren’t many other places to go.

“I think the economic stranglehold on the Russian economy is brutal and, by all accounts, very effective.

“He’s going to find it very, very difficult to keep his country going; they are running out of money, there will be some soon… people are going to riot in the streets about it.

“His war machine is not a very warlike war machine. They’re very, very good at killing unarmed civilians, they don’t seem as good at fighting.

“He has real problems in Kiev. So what else does he have left? Frankly, he still has nuclear weapons. And that’s why I think we’re going to hear more and more bloodcurdling threats from him, and we’re going to have to, as they say in Scotland, keep the heat on.

Marr, who was previously the BBC’s political editor before hosting Sunday morning political show The Andrew Marr Show, has left the broadcaster to focus on writing and presenting political and cultural programming for Global and l writing for newspapers.

He said his new LBC show, which will launch on Monday night, gives him “new freedom” to do “fast, very smooth, unfiltered political journalism”.

He lambasted the government over its visa system for allowing Ukrainian refugees into the UK, telling GMB hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley: ‘I am, I think, as angry as you seem both about the lack of generosity and openness when we bring people to this country, refugees.

“All over Britain, people are raising funds, they are raising food, they are raising clothes to send to Ukrainians. There is a real feeling that we are on the side of Ukrainians, we want to help and welcome Ukrainians.

“That’s the kind of people we are in this country, and to have such a meager and infuriating visa system at the moment, it seems to me that the Foreign Office and the Home Office have a full ear. for country mood.

“They really need to master this very, very soon.”

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