ZAKARIA: George Soros has made one of world's great fortunes betting on global trends, and he is deeply troubled by events and political trends in Ukraine, specifically, but Europe more broadly. He's just back from the region and he joins me to talk about what he saw, what he thinks and where he's putting his money.
George Soros, pleasure to have you on.
GEORGE SOROS, AUTHOR, "THE TRAGEDY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION": Same here.
ZAKARIA: First on Ukraine, one of the things that many people recognized about you was that you during the revolutions of 1989 funded a lot of dissident activities, civil society groups in eastern Europe and Poland, the Czech Republic. Are you doing similar things in Ukraine?
SOROS: Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.
ZAKARIA: Do you think Ukraine will be able to assert a kind of independence from Russia and an alignment with the West not -- but not a specific alignment as NATO but a kind of orientation toward the West or will the Russians always stop them?
SOROS: No. Putin will try to destabilize Ukraine, but the Ukrainians, the large majority of Ukrainians are determined to be independent of Russia. It won't be easy because Putin has staked his regime on destabilizing Ukraine because it's a threat to his regime in Russia. If you have freedom, free media and so on and a flourishing economy, that would make his regime unsustainable.
ZAKARIA: He accuses the Ukrainians of being anti-Semitic, of them being full of anti-Semitic fascists. You operate in Ukraine. You're of Jewish origin. Have you detected virulent anti Semitism in Ukraine?
SOROS: Well, anti-Semitisms means collector of the DNA of that part of the world. So there is anti-Semitism. But there is much more in the east, in the Russian dominated part. That is this so-called independent republic. But there's actually atrocities against Jews and gypsies.
ZAKARIA: You have been very pessimistic or gloomy about Europe. Do think that in this Ukraine situation you're seeing another aspect of the tragedy of Europe, the lack of collective action?
SOROS: Unfortunately, Europe is very weak. It's preoccupied with the eternal problems which are unresolved. The euro crisis is no longer a financial crisis. It's turning into political crisis and you're going to see in the elections and Putin --
ZAKARIA: Explain what that means. It's going to be -- you're going to see it in the elections because you're going to see the rise of nationalist anti-European forces?
SOROS: Yes, and interestingly, they are supported by Russia and pro- Russian. So Russia has emerged as an alternative to the European Union. Putin has sort of come out of the closet in Ukraine. With their ideology that is nationalist , be some ethic nationalism, you could call it Russism.
ZAKARIA: That's right.
SOROS: It's a new word to describe it because I don't want to call it Nazi because it is very similar to what you had in the end of warfare and fascism, you know --
ZAKARIA: Connecting your ethnic groups with military force if necessary?
SOROS: But it's more than that. It's a new theology. You saw the myth of Russian superiority. If you -- those who watch Putin's speeches, he actually has revealed this new myth of Russian genetic superiority. You might have heard that previously from someone else. It's a new ideology based on ethnic Russian superiority.
ZAKARIA: And as you saw a lot of these nationalists who are -- who are doing well in European -- the European-wide elections seemed very pro-Russian whether on the left on the right. Do you think nationalism could break up the European Union?
SOROS: Yes, it's that and Europe needs to recognize it, and we need to recognize it, actually. We need to have bipartisan foreign policy. We used to have that, and we have lost it. So we need to reestablish it because there is a real threat. And so that is a threat to America also. Because what's happening in Ukraine and in Europe is having repercussions in Asia, you know, the Chinese -- that is establishing facts on the ground.
“Nothing makes me more certain of the victory of our ideas than our success in the universities” – Adolf H, 1930