tv BBC News BBC News March 19, 2018 4:00am-4:31am GMT
welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. i'm gavin grey. our top stories: vladimir putin wins another six years as president of russia. he has also dismissed britain's claims that russia was behind the poisoning of former spy sergei skripal. syria's president assad visits soldiers fighting rebels on the frontline in eastern ghouta. and it is a medical breakthrough, say scientists, after stem cell transplants are used to treat multiple sclerosis. vladimir putin has secured another six—year term as russia's president following a landslide election win. he told supporters he saw the result as a vote of confidence in his achievements and in the country.
speaking at a news conference, he spoke about the ongoing dispute with britain over the poisoning of a russian spy. he insisted that his government had no chemical weapons, and had nothing to do with it. these are the latest figures from the russian central election commission. with 99% of the vote now counted, mr putin has won 76.7%, hugely ahead of his nearest rival, the communist party candidate pavel grudinin. he has won just under 12%. the far—right nationalist vladimir zhirinovsky is on a bit less than 6%. the election commission put turnout at 67%, a little more than the previous presidential election in 2012. steve rosenberg reports. he has been centrestage in russia for the last 18 years.
tonight, by the kremlin, vladimir putin thanked his people for re—electing him their president. "we are destined to succeed," he said. "russia, russia!" they chanted. but, in putin's fourth term, are russia and the west destined for a cold war? later, the president dismissed british accusations that he was behind the nerve agent attack in salisbury. translation: it is rubbish, drivel, nonsense, to think that russia would do something like that ahead of a presidential election and the world cup. president putin's pitch to voters had been "stick with me, and russia will be strong." and many russians believe that.
"he is a genius", he says. "putin wants russia to prosper, and for russians to live in happiness." it's thanks to putin, she says, that russia still exists. but critics of the kremlin say the election was fixed — that only those candidates who stood no chance of unseating vladimir putin were allowed to run. the problem with russia is that there's no such thing as russian politics. politics has been eliminated in russia altogether. there's only one political institution in russia, and this is the physical body of vladimir putin. which is why vladimir putin was always going to win this vote. this election was not about choosing a new president. it was about reappointing the old one. and, although many russians do support vladimir putin, crucially, it is the political system he has built in russia that guaranteed him a landslide win. these images are embarrassing, though. caught on cctv, a woman stuffs
a ballot box near moscow. suddenly, there are two of them at it. and during a vote count in siberia, balloons are moved to cover the camera. election officials say they will investigate. but the results won't change. neither will the name of russia's president. international chemical weapons inspectors will arrive in southwest england later on monday. they will try to verify the type of nerve agent used to attack the former russian agent sergei skripal and his daughter. the british foreign secretary has accused russia of making and stockpiling the agent. our diplomatic correspondent james robbins reports. whatever the weather, the decontamination work and forensic investigation in salisbury goes on. two weeks after the chemical attack on sergei and yulia skripal,
it is clear that one focus of the inquiry is his bmw, amid suggestions that the chemical agent might have been placed there to ensure that the occupants were poisoned. a team of international chemical weapons experts from the global body which polices their prohibition arrives in salisbury tomorrow. they will begin a further independent investigation. today, the foreign secretary went further than ever, blaming russia and lifting the veil a little on secret intelligence. borisjohnson says it shows that russia has been making nerve agent within the last decade. we actually have evidence, within the last ten years, that russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling novichoks. the foreign secretary also dismissed and derided a suggestion from one of russia's most senior diplomats that the nerve agent used in salisbury could actually have come from britain's own military
research facility at porton down. porton down, as we now all know, is the largest military facility in the united kingdom that has been dealing with chemical weapons research, and it's actually only eight miles from salisbury. you're not suggesting that porton down is responsible for this nerve agent, are you? i don't know, i don't know. but theresa may's government got solid support from labour's shadow chancellor, after criticism ofjeremy corbyn‘s more questioning approach. putin has questions to answer, because this is highly likely this could be a state execution. but what we don't do in this country is we don't leap to conclusions without the evidence. as the investigation goes on, in the next few days, the government will focus on broadening international backing for britain's stance. on tuesday, there will be
discussions as to whether or not to launch a second round of measures against moscow, at the risk of an endless tit—for—tat. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news: facebook has announced a comprehensive internal and external review to determine whether the personal data of 50 million users has been compromised, after reports of misuse by political consultancy company cambridge analytica. the firm's ceo, alexander nix, has been called back before a committee of mps here in the uk. facebook will also be asked to testify. donald trump's white house lawyer says the president is not considering firing the special prosecutor, robert mueller. earlier in the day, trump criticised mueller‘s probe into russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, calling it a witch hunt. this prompted media speculation and unease among senior republicans. talks are under way between the australian government and the visiting myanmar state counsellor, aung san suu kyi, amid calls for her to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity following the persecution of the rohingya people in the rakhine state.
the issue was raised at this weekend's asean summit in sydney, but the prime minister, malcolm turnbull, refused to criticise myanmar. three people have been killed and at least 23 were injured after a fire broke out at a hotel in manila, in the philippines. the blaze raged for over nine hours before it was brought under control. 300 guests were evacuated. the cause of the fire is not yet known. syria's president, bashar al—assad, has visited soldiers in eastern ghouta, an area his forces have been trying to retake from the rebels. these images published on a syrian presidency facebook page show him surrounded by troops. a monitoring group has confirmed that government forces and their allies now control some 80% of eastern ghouta. thousands more civilians fled on sunday, but a pro—rebel website says there has been relative calm for the first time in a month. the turkish president says the northern syrian city of afrin
is now under turkish control after its troops, backed by syrian allies, entered the city centre. turkey has been engaged in a two—month battle with kurdish fighters over the city in northern syria. the kurdish administration of afrin says its forces will now strike turkish and allied militia positions at every opportunity. mark lowen reports from istanbul. the sound not of battle, but of celebration — syrian rebel fighters, backed by turkey, taking the town of afrin after a lightning advance. their flags marked the new order here. the ypg, kurdish militia, had promised to fight to the death in afrin. but, in the end, their resistance seemed to melt away. afrin fell within hours, the vestiges of the ypg ripped away. in the name of god the merciful, we're now inside afrin,
liberated from terrorism, says this fighter. the city has returned to the syrian revolution, and we call on all residents to come back. the scars of this two—month—long offensive are everywhere, a town encircled and besieged, its residents fleeing the turkish advance. over 150,000 people are said to have escaped in recent days. a triumphant president erdogan announced the success. turks from all sides have rallied behind an offensive, targeting a group they say are linked to kurdish militants within turkey. crushing age—old foes is a rare uniting force in this otherwise polarised country. translation: most of the terrorists have already fled with their tails between their legs. our special forces and members of the free syrian army are clearing the remaining pockets of resistance, and the booby traps left behind. in the centre of afrin, symbols of trust and stability
are waving, instead of the rags of terrorists. as a kurdish statue in central afrin was torn down, a bad omen for the much—needed reconciliation. many residents who will return are kurds, hostile to turkey and syrian arab fighters. but, in some areas of afrin, the rebels were welcomed as liberators. the question now is whether turkey will push on to other ypg—held territory. that will be discouraged by the west, which sees the kurds as vital allies. but for now, victory is being savoured, and eight years into syria's war, each side continues to carve it up. mark lowen, bbc news, istanbul. police in austin, texas are responding to reports of an explosion in which two men have been seriously injured. it follows a series of parcel bombings in the city, which have killed two people this month and injured two others. austin's police chief has announced a reward of $100,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the bomber.
both men killed in the attacks were african—americans, and police have not ruled out racism as a motive. in australia, more than 70 homes and buildings have been destroyed in wildfires in the state of new south wales. firefighters say the blazes are now under control, but that it will take several days for all of them to be extinguished. this is all that is left of some of the homes in the small coastal town of tathra, where 200 people were forced to sleep in an evacuation centre overnight and many simply fled to the beach to avoid the flames. those who had to evacuate their homes have been told it is not yet safe for them to return to check on them. so far, there have been no reports of major injuries from the fires. thousands of people in the brazilian city of rio have marched in honour of marielle franco, a human rights activists gunned down last week. franco, a black woman from one of rio‘s most violent favelas, campaigned against police brutality.
andrew plant reports. chanting: no, no, no! rio dejaneiro on sunday afternoon. this the latest of several demonstrations in brazil — a protest over a murder that many here believe was a targeted assassination. it made headlines across brazil and around the world. marielle franco was a popular local politician, killed alongside her driver last wednesday, shot four times in the head. translation: whoever tried to silence marielle sent a message for democracy. as a poor, black woman, she wasn't supposed to get involved in politics. we need to know who the coward was who did this. translation: they killed her like she was an insect, just to get her out of the way. but they don't realise that, when they killed her, it made thousands more resolute.
thousands will nowjoin in the fight to continue what she started. a campaigner for the country's poorest, she spoke out against perceived police brutality in brazil's impoverished favela districts, and the government's recent decision to use the army to try to stem a rise in violence. news of her killing spread around the world on social media, her name tweeted millions of times, her death mourned everywhere from new york to paris. many here believe she was targeted because of her outspoken criticism of brazil's police and security forces. officials say her death is still being investigated. meanwhile, campaigners say more marches are planned across the country. andrew plant, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: the million—dollar teacher from london who has scooped up a global award.
today, we have closed the book on apartheid and that chapter. more than 3,000 subway passengers were affected. nausea, bleeding, headaches and the dimming of vision, all of this caused by an apparently organised attack. the trophy itself was on the pedestal in the middle of the cabinet here. now, this was an international trophy and we understand now that the search for it has become an international search. above all, this was a triumph for the christian democrats
of the west, offering reunification as quickly as possible, and that's what the voters wanted. this is bbc news. the latest headlines — vladimir putin wins a landslide victory in the russian presidential election, securing another six years in office. he also dismissed suggestions from britain that russia was behind the poisoning of former spy, sergei skripal and his daughter. well, let's stay with that story and listen to president putin's comments on the nerve agent attack in britain and the issue of chemical weapons. translation: in relation to the tragedy that you mentioned, i learnt about it from the media and the first thing that came into my mind
is that if it was a military operation, people would have died straight away. this is number one. secondly, russia does not have those weapons. russia has demolished all its chemical weapons under the international supervision, with a difference to some of our partners who haven't done it yet. and we are ready to cooperate. we said it straight away. we are ready to take part in investigations. but for this, there has to be some interest from the other side. and also, i think that any person with common sense understands that it doesn't make any sense for the person, for anybody in russia to do this just before the elections and just before the world cup.
but despite all these difficulties, we are prepared to work together, we are prepared to discuss any questions and overcome any difficulties. president putin shortly after being re—elected. scientists say they've achieved a breakthrough in the treatment of multiple sclerosis after the results of an international trial involving stem cell transplants. doctors in sheffield in northern england were part of the study, which showed an improvement in symptoms and the progress of the neurological condition halted. around 100,000 people in the uk are affected by ms, as our medical correspondent fergus walsh explains. so nice to finally get out. it feels like my diagnosis wasjust a bad dream. before her transplant, louise willetts from rotherham had severe relapses, attacks of multiple sclerosis. at one point, she was in a wheelchair.
it also affected her mind — she struggled to read and follow conversations. now, she's completely well and has a newborn daughter too. it does feel like a miracle. almost have to i pinch myself and think, is this real, is it really gone, is it ever going to come back? i don't live in fear anymore so i actually live every day the way that i want to live it, rather than around my ms. ms is caused by a faulty immune system, attacking the brain and spinal cord. symptoms include balance and muscle problems, fatigue and loss of vision. the bbc‘s panorama followed louise's treatment, originally developed for cancer patients. a high dose of chemotherapy was given to knock out her immune system. then these healthy stem cells, taken from louise's blood and bone marrow, were infused. unaffected by ms, the stem cells rebuilt her immune system. now, more than two years on,
she's back at sheffield's royal hallamshire hospital for a check—up. hi, hi, louise. hello. nice to see you. the mri shows there is no active disease in her brain. but i'm really delighted at these scans. so this is really good news. yes, it is. i'm delighted too. the results of this trial are, quite simply, stunning. it should mean that many more ms patients are offered a stem cell transplant with the hope of stopping the disease in its tracks. it can fundamentally alter the course of patients with ms who've got resistant and disabling disease. the stem cell transplant involves a one—off cost of £30,000, no more expensive than the yearly fee for some drugs. it's not suitable for all ms patients, but the life—changing results with louise and others
are plain to see. fergus walsh, bbc news. now, a change of pace. whale sharks are the world's largest fish. they're endangered, and used to be severely hunted off the coast of west india. the practice is now banned, and fishermen are even encouraged to rescue and release whale sharks that get tangled up in their nets. the bbc went to meet one man who has rescued more than 500 whale sharks. an art teacher from london has won a million—dollar prize recognising an outstanding contribution to the teaching profession. andria zafirakou works in a school with a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils. sean coughlan was watching the ceremony in dubai. shh! the big secret — who is the world's best teacher? andria zafirakou! and arts and textiles teacher
from a secondary school in brent north london, andria zafirakou found herself centre stage as the winner of the global teacher prize. good morning, girls. working in a deprived inner—city community, she was praised for going the extra mile, to build links between school and parents and structuring activities around students' individual needs. to all the students all over the world, i say whatever your circumstances, whatever your troubles, please know that you have the potential to succeed in whatever your dreams may be and that is a right that nobody should take from you. and congratulations to her. a reminder of our top story — president putin has been re—elected for another six years in office. with nearly all of the vote counted, he has received more than three—quarters of the vote according to the central election commission.
but the turnout was lower than the 70% his campaign had hoped for. and we'll leave you with the spectacular closing ceremony of the paralympic winter games in pyeongcheng. the event also paid tribute to the late british physicist, stephen hawking. the scientist, who died last week, is seen as an inspiration to many paralympians, having used a wheelchair for decades. in his closing address, the president of the paralympic committee hailed professor hawking as a genius unhindered by his disability. hello there. after another very wintry weekend, we are heading closer to the spring equinox, and the weather will turn slowly milder through this week. but on sunday, here was the scene in york. we had a lot of fresh snow fall across eastern parts of the uk, and also in the south—west too. in fact, we've had an amber warning in force from the met office for that heavy snow. it expires at 3am. but 20 centimetres of snow
in one or two places. so we are likely to see ongoing travel disruption in the south—west, even after that amber warning has expired. we've still got this cold easterly wind, with biting windchill in the south once again. the winds won't be a strong, though, as we had through monday, down to the fact that high pressure is building, and that will bring a lot of dry weather too. bitterly cold to start monday morning. temperatures around about —2 or —3 degrees, even in the towns and cities. it could be as low as —8 degrees across parts of scotland. still some snow showers lingering in the south—west early monday morning. particularly down towards the channel isles, and perhaps along the south coast of england we will start to see a few more snow showers. but a lot of dry weather as we work our way further north across the country. a really sharp and widespread frost first thing in the morning. plenty of dry weather on the cards away from the far south. we will continue to see a few snow flurries, particularly in the channel isles, with other places looking dry. cloud working in from north—east england and eastern scotland too. could be a flurry or two of snow under that cloud. temperatures still on the cold side
for this time of year, 4—7 degrees. certainly not as cold as it was during the weekend. through the week ahead, things are set to turn milder. after a largely dry start to the week, there will be some rain later on in the week. high pressure dominates the weather through monday and on into tuesday. winds are coming in from a slightly the different direction. not quite as cold, although still, temperatures not doing great for this time of year. on tuesday, a weak weather front bringing rain showers in parts of wales, as well as to the south—east. elsewhere, a largely dry day. best of the sunshine for parts of northern ireland, western scotland and north—west england. temperatures around 6—9 degrees by the time we get to tuesday. then as we go to the middle part of the week, you willjust start to notice the yellow colours. this is a milder air mass which is starting to move in from the atlantic, pushing away those cold easterly winds that have been with us for some time. wednesday, it's a north—west, south—east split. southern and eastern areas, largely dry and bright with some sunshine.
there will be some patchy rain for scotland and for northern ireland. temperatures take a little below average for this time of year, but we are back into double figures. that's it for now. bye— bye. this is bbc news. the headlines: vladimir putin declares victory in russia's presidential election, winning another six years in office. most of the ballots have now been counted, with around three—quarters backing mr. putin. the president's hailed his victory as approval of his policies. at a victory rally in moscow, he also dismisses the suggestion his country is behind the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in the uk. earlier, britain's foreign secretary, borisjohnson, accused russia of making and stockpiling the nerve agent used in the attack. scientists say they've achieved a breakthrough in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, after the results of an international trial involving stem cell transplants. the study showed an improvement in symptoms and the progress of the neurological condition halted. now on bbc news, to mark
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