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tv   Russia  BBC News  May 17, 2020 1:30pm-2:01pm BST

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hello. this is bbc news. the headlines... the uk government defends plans to begin reopening primary schools in england from next month — it says there will be measures to ensure the safety of children and teachers. barack obama has launched a scathing attack on the trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis. the italian prime minister admits the country's taking a calculated
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risk by easing a number of lockdown measures from next week. borisjohnson says he understands people will feel frustrated at changes to the new lockdown guidelines in england. now on bbc news, steve rosenberg explores how moscow views the tumultuous events of 1989 and looks into whether the coronavirus pandemic thwarts vladimir putin's bid to make russia great again? it stretched from the pacific ocean to the fringes of western europe. the soviet empire seemed invincible. applause and cheering. but in 1989, the iron curtain was swept away, and moscow watched its empire crumble.
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the soviet empire falling apart piece by piece. 30 years on, russia is reasserting itself. through military muscle and disinformation. adolf hitler is more popular than harry potter. absolute fake. you are pushing the narrative of the kremlin. it has begun to feel like a new cold war. but will a global pandemic curb the kremlin‘s global ambitions? he has frozen, he has stalled. i'm on a journey that will take me back to 1989, and across europe, to find out what it was like for moscow to lose an empire, and what russia is doing to rebuild its power.
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throughout its history, russia has swung between wanting to be part of europe and competing with the west. right now it is set on rivalry and that risks confrontation, especially with the kind of methods moscow has been employing close to home. they call it the jewel of the black sea. crimea. once part of the roman empire, it fell to the ottomans, then the czars and the soviets. most
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recently it has been part of ukraine, but the beauty belies geopolitical tension. crimea has become a flashpoint between east and west. this is why. in 2014, mask to soldiers in unmarked uniforms seized control of the ukrainian peninsula, crimea. they acquired the nickname, the little green men. they were russian special forces sent in by president putin after ukraine's pro—western revolution. and a hastily organised referendum vote backed joining russia but the poll, widely condemned but was not internationally recognised. it had taken moscow internationally recognised. it had ta ken moscow less than internationally recognised. it had taken moscow less than a month to occu py taken moscow less than a month to occupy and annex a piece of its
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neighbour. for many russians, this was because for celebration. ifirst met this woman in moscow, back in the early 1990s. she has a second home now in crimea. emotionally it means very much. if we look back into the history, two all three centuries back, crimean history has a lwa ys centuries back, crimean history has always been connected with russia. in the west there is a lot of criticism for vladimir putin over what happened with russia taking crimea. i am very grateful to mr o cani crimea. i am very grateful to mr o can i take my hat off and bow my head to mr putin, because he saved generations of people from rivers of blood. there would have been a wall because of extremists who might have come from the ukraine to settle here. that is what i think.
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in sebastopol, they are marking russian navy day. and centrestage is the black sea fleet. it is an opportunity to showcase russian power at sea. since it annexed crimea, russia has become the dominant force in the black sea. it has upgraded its fleet, more ships, more weapons and new missions. some of these ships
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had taken part in russia's military operation in syria. after the annexation of crimea, russia has consolidated its control here and increased its presence in the black sea. it is using that as a springboard to project power far beyond this region into the mediterranean, the balkans and middle east. at nato headquarters, russian actions are causing alarm and disappointment. at the end of the cold war, a partnership with the kremlin seemed achievable. there was even talk that russia might one day join nato. that idea seems pie in the sky now. what we see is a pattern of behaviour where russia
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was responsible for aggressive actions against neighbours that reflects that the main problem in russia is that they still believe in the idea of... of the 30 nato countries, nine of them used to be in moscow's zone of influence it is a change in the balance of power that unnerves russia. one complaint i often hear from that unnerves russia. one complaint i often hearfrom russian officials is 30 years ago a promise was made by the west to moscow that nato would not enlarge and move closer to russian borders. moscow says the west deceived moscow. no such promise was made. second, just the idea that washington or a big western allies should promise that to moscow is an idea based on the
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total wrong assumption that big countries can promise something in behalf of small countries. since russia took crimea nato has bolstered its forces near russian borders. in the baltic, it strengthened its air policing mission. from estonia, this air base rent nato jets are regularly scrambled. their main task is to intercept russian planes that are approaching estonian air space, which had failed to identify themselves. over the baltic sea, typhoon jets intercept russian military aircraft and escort them from the area. this piece of land is oui’s from the area. this piece of land is ours and no one else's. russia wants to assert its dominance over the
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baltic area, on land and on sea. the message is clear this is our territory, keep out, and our response to them is, no, you are wrong, this is western territory, nato territory, and we are here. do you believe russia is a threat to estonia? as long as russia as such does not change its stance. it can bea does not change its stance. it can be a threat towards smaller neighbours. moscow dismisses the idea that it is a threat to the baltic but nato is taking no chances. after what happened in crimea, for the nato alliance, the security of the three baltic states isa security of the three baltic states is a priority. the baltic has become
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one of the front lines of what feels like a new cold war between russia and the west. to moscow, the presence of nato troops near the border is a direct threat to russian national security. nato insists all of this is purely defensive and a reaction to an increasingly assertive and aggressive russia.
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russia's new assertiveness goes beyond its military. vladimir putin's kremlin has a whole range of instruments for exerting influence. one of the tools russia employs against many european countries, including latvia. in1989, in 1989, lazio was part of the soviet union. it is in the eu now and in nato. —— latvia. moscow still
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casts a shadow. today, latvia is a target of russian disinformation. there is an attempt to distort reality here by spreading fake news. to sow doubt, confusion. the russian objective to discredit a european democracy on its border. and here is one example of what appears to be russian disinformation. this website is in russian, called baltnews. it is in russian, called baltnews. it is part of a news organisation bankrolled by the kremlin. what kind of stories does it put out? here is one. among latvians, it says, adolf hitler is more popular than harry potter. hitler's mein kampf tops the readers but choice in latvia.
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astonishing. the impression you get when you read this is in latvia, an eu country, nazi ideology is thriving. this was picked up by a whole string of other news sites. is it really true? i am off to investigate. my first stop is latvia's largest book—seller. harry is here but i cannot find hitler. perhaps the company director can help me, inara. how many copies of mein kampf were sold in your shop? none. not a single copy. white is it not available? no. what you make about the claim that adolf hitler is
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more popular than harry potter? an absolute fake. i had a cross to the national library in riga. if latvians are not buying mein kampf, perhaps they are borrowing it. now the national library tells me that in the last three years, they have only received 39 requests for mein kampf. if you look at statistics from across the country, the grand total for all the libraries in latvia, mein kampf has only been requested 139 times in three years, compare that with thousands of requests compare that with thousands of req u ests to compare that with thousands of requests to borrow harry potter books. i tracked down the key link to the baltnews story, it is rita.
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she runs a second—hand book website in latvia. baltnews had based its report data from her site. in its article, baltnews claims that on your site, mein kampf has been one of the most clicked on titles. in fa ct of the most clicked on titles. in fact there is a section on your site that shows the books gaining the most interest for users. until recently mein kampf was right up there, near the top. recently mein kampf was right up there, nearthe top. how recently mein kampf was right up there, near the top. how do you explain that? they are paid views, not the real deal. interesting that for mein kampf, over 70% of all the clicks are anonymous. if we compare with other popular books like harry potter, 70% are registered users. with other popular books like harry potter, 70% are registered usersm most of the clips for mein kampf are anonymous, unregistered users, what does it mean? they can be fake
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views. fake views to make fake news. definitely. sign up on a fundamental aim of the russian operation is to undermine other countries. —— aim of the russian operation is to undermine other countries. -- the fundamentalaim. undermine other countries. -- the fundamental aim. russia cannot acce pt fundamental aim. russia cannot accept success of the baltic countries who have embraced values of the west and have been successful. a good example is dangerous, so successful. a good example is dangerous, so you successful. a good example is dangerous, so you should pertain to it. everything i had been told here proves, i think this hitler story is 100% fake news. there isjust one more conversation i would like to have an artist with the people who published the story, baltnews. the thing is, they do not have an office here in latvia, so to speak to them i'm going to have to go back to moscow.
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in moscow and i have come to the headquarters of the state run media giant. it transmits the kremlin's view to the world. baltnews is one of its outlets. your editorial policy is the kremlin's editorial policy. you are pushing the kremlin's narrative. why don't you publish a piece that says, harry potter is much more popular in latvia than mein kampf? but it is the true situation, it is
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the truth. cana can a country be simultaneously the grand spoiler and a great power? does modern russia even want the title, superpower? this is my chance to ask the president. vladimir putin has just finished an event near the kremlin. it is a rare opportunity to get up close to the kremlin leader.
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vladimir putin set out to restore the status of russia as a global player and everything seems to have been going according to plan. until now. suddenly, the whole world has
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changed. covid—19 has put russia and most of the planet into lockdown. for now cold war has been superseded by battle with a virus. full rations, the priority is not being a superpower it is survival. this is eerie. it feels as if someone has pressed a giant pause button and the world's largest country has come to a standstill.
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the pandemic threatens to decimate the russian economy, a crash in global oil prices is making things even worse. there are forecasts of a long, deep recession. we are now facing a totally different russia, a different putin and a weakened regime. vladimir putin wants to be seen as in control, leading from the front. he has come to visit a hospitalfor front. he has come to visit a hospital for coronavirus patients. but this is not the kind of battle the kremlin is used to. for years, it has been telling rations that the threat to their security comes from nato, from america, the west. it turns out that russia has more to
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fear from turns out that russia has more to fearfrom an turns out that russia has more to fear from an invisible enemy. the heating on russian tv is a decisive leader, at the centre of power. on coronavirus his critics accuse him of delay, mixed messaging and of not doing nearly enough to protect the economy. he is not an adaptive politician who can react to external challenges. we have seen many world leaders jump on the strain of trying to take over and trying to rule the events. putin is in lockdown and he is frozen, stalled. you cannot react or say anything to the world all the russian nation. every nation is under pressure from this pandemic.
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after yea rs of under pressure from this pandemic. after years of chronic underfunding, the russian public health system has been stretched to its limits. butamid but amid the crisis at home, moscow is sending aid abroad. the russian army has been in italy to help tackle the epidemic there. russia is saying, we are still a power, we are still a power, we have the possibility to help you. no little green men, this time it was the boys
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in blue. they presented this as a mercy mission images of the russian military in an eu and nato country. it isa military in an eu and nato country. it is a propaganda coufal russia. military in an eu and nato country. it is a propaganda coufal russiam is good for geopolitics but not good for us. priority is our own country, not another. the pandemic is the biggest challenge for moscow since the fall of its empire 30 years ago. and it has not extinguished its determination to regain influence and to be seen as strong. for russia, the real lesson of 1989 when the iron curtain lifted is that wea kness the iron curtain lifted is that weakness costs power. the paradox is that today's russia wants to forget
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about 1989. it was an amazing period but it was the period of backtracking, surrender, defeat. the kremlin wants victory, once omnipotent, once domination and tries to forget about this kind of nightmare. when the berlin wall fell, i remember thinking that from now on everything was going to be different and it was going to be better, that east and west were going tojoin better, that east and west were going to join hands better, that east and west were going tojoin hands and walk better, that east and west were going to join hands and walk off into the sunset together, a happy and hollywood style. that did not work out. i wonder what will happen now, what kind of a world well the pandemic leave behind? well this
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global crisis finally convince east and west and north and south to set aside their differences and work together or will the fallout from the virus be so immense it will increase geopolitical tension and the search for scapegoats and end up building new barriers, new walls? we have seen the warmest weather in
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the south—east. it does turn wetter this evening and overnight for a while in northern ireland and scotland. patchy rain for the north of england and perhaps wales. further south it will be dry. staying mild. we start with some cloud and rain in the north of the uk, particularly scotland. the more persistent rain will clear away from the northern mainland. thickening cloud could bring patchy rain back into northern ireland and southern scotland. it does become largely dry for northern england and wales with their sunnier skies in the south—east. 18 degrees is likely in the north of scotland. some rain later in the week, mainly in the northern half of the uk. for a while all of us will be getting a lot warmer.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. the uk government defends plans to begin reopening primary schools in england from next month. it says there'll be measures to ensure the safety of children and teachers. it is the case that it is extremely unlikely that any school is likely to be the source of a covid—19 outbreak and if, for any reason, there are risks, then we can take steps to mitigate them. barack obama launches a second scathing attack on the trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis. more than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they are doing.

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