BBC's political debate in Moscow

A special edition of Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme,  was held  in Moscow on Thursday, 30 March 2006.

About the programme:

David Dimbleby is a major presenter of current affairs programmes and documentaries for BBC television.

In the years since it was first broadcast on 25 September 1979, Question Time has become something of a national institution, offering British voters a unique opportunity to quiz top decision-makers on the events of the day.

Each year, some 30,000 members of the public apply to join the debate. The panels are drawn from significant figures in politics, industry, the media and entertainment. But the heart of Question Time is the audience - both in the studio and at home. The programme has been available for everyone on the internet for the past four years with an ever-increasing online audience in the UK and abroad.

Watch Question Time from Moscow

Question Time in Moscow 2006

BBC One's flagship political programme Question Time staged a debate in Moscow on Thursday, 30 March.

The guests included Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin, and prominent government critic and chess legend Garry Kasparov. Also taking part was British foreign minister Douglas Alexander. Completing the panel were economist Andrei Illarionov  - Former Senior Economic Advisor to President Putin, Natalia Narochnitskaya of the Motherland Party, and Igor Yurgens, Vice President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

The audience was made up of English-speaking Muscovites and Westerners living in the Russian capital.

The programme went out as President Putin prepares to host the G8 for the first time. BBC TV team, the panel of experts and the audience looked at Russia's role in the world, 15 years after the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union.

The topics discussed were: Russia's G8 presidency; Sanctions on Iran; Spying games; Energy and super-power status; The prospects of Democracy and freedom of speech in Russia.

The comments of the worldwide audience reflect the balance of opinion  received:

Let us make Russia our friend, not our enemy.
Richard, Ramsgate

The mere fact that Russians are discussing their views and opinions in front of a live audience of millions of BBC viewers is surely a sign of some greater democratic freedom!
Lee Jones, Caerphilly

Why is the US and in some cases, the UK, so intent in imposing their own views on other countries. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Perhaps both the UK and the US should focus on getting their own houses in order before looking into others.
Mark Davies, Dundee

Putin is to democracy what Blair is to integrity.
Paul, Yorkshire

Russia lost democracy with the collapse of the Soviet Union and are now slaves of capitalism.
Comrade Miller, Chesterfield

I think it is a good thing that Russia can host the G8 summit. The West should not isolate Russia. We need Russian energy and by constantly engaging with Russia the West can ensure that media freedom, democracy and human rights are respected in Russia. Russia is an emerging democracy and President Putin is not as bad as some people like to portray. There were worse dictators, like Pinochet and Saddam, whom the West supported once. Putin is nowhere near them. So I congratulate Russia and wish the G8 a productive summit.
Ajith Dharma, Enfield, UK

To allow Putin to take power, the Russian bear truly is a bear of little brain.
Paul, Bentley

We need Russia as a counter to American imperialism.

According to the CIA website Russian GDP in 2005 was higher than in Canada and just 10% less than in UK. Why does everyone say that economically Russia does not fit into the G8?
Alexey, Edinburgh

Can't believe how Soviet in mentality some of the government representatives are!
Mark, Oxford

Lenin spurned the chance of a true democracy, Putin is repeating history's mistakes.
Christian, Blackpool

I enjoyed the presentation from Moscow which made a refreshing change from the sometimes introspective outlook of small town UKness. Wish I could speak Russian the way the audience spoke English!
Martin Egan, Torbay

Text: We have enough problems at home that need discussing. This programme about Russia is a waste of space!
Jason, Meriden

This was the best Question Time I've seen in years. A fascinating insight into Russian political and civil life. Please do more of these programmes around the world.
Jane, London

Historic ! Superbly ironic - in a good way. The whole panel and the audience spoke English. They asked and answered questions which would have caused their execution a while ago. Brilliant, brilliant communication!

I was most impressed with the ability of the Russians to debate fluently in English. It was a great debate, and a credit to the BBC.
Ian West, Morpeth

How often do you get to hear what Russians think? Give 'em a chance!
Petey, London

Text: Nice to see Russian politicians not waffling, unlike their British colleagues.
Jerry, E London

 It is a serious TV programme this, highly valuable, proper for BBC to cover.
Timothy, London

The "Question Time" from Moscow was fascinating, not least because we saw Russian key players disagreeing with one another. However, it was very disappointing that no representative of the millions of Russian workers who are trade union members was on the panel, or even in the audience, to speak about the day-to-day existence of Russian workers - we only had business reps.
Bill Speirs, Glasgow

Congratulations to the panel on their excellent English. Imagine a British panel speaking Russian.
Laura, Brighton

Great to have a proper debate on QT at last.
ST, Shrops

Text: The audience sound better-educated than the Miami audience we had to listen to last year.
Pete, Canterbury

QT's best ever programme - great! We need Russia to be part of the international community.
Peter, Aberdeenshire

As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst possible political system except for all the others."
Theo, Teddington

Great to see open and free broadcasting from Russia.
John, Devon

How refreshing! Good to hear some straight talking on QT. How about a regular debate from Russia?
Graham, Cambs

Very good programme tonight marking the 15th anniversary of the break up of the Soviet Union. Too many on the panel, I thought, making life difficult for David, especially when they all began talking at once on one or two occasions. Some were carrying on with their own agendas using the programme as a platform for their own views and that of their party.
Steve Fuller, Hove, East Sussex

Kasparov is excellent. Can we have him instead of Gordon Brown?
Mark, Pimlico

The most impressive panel for many years - intelligent and straight talking.
MKJ, Exeter

The world continues to shrink! It is a fascinating insight into another country. Well done BBC.
John, Camberley

The programme can be watched online and on BBC World this weekend.

Question Time in Moscow:
BBC One: Thursday 30 March 2235BST/2135GMT
BBC World: Saturday 1 April 19.10, repeated Sunday 2 April 00.10 and 15.10 Moscow Time
Watch online any time at the
Question Time website