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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  July 3, 2020 4:30am-5:01am BST

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in court in the united states after being charged with helping the late paedophile and financier, jeffrey epstein, to sexually abuse underage girls. she has previously denied wrongdoing — as well as any knowledge of epstein‘s crimes. texas is making the wearing of a face mask compulsory across much of the state as covid—19 infections continue to soar. coronavirus cases in the us have risen by nearly 55,000 in the past 2a hours — the largest daily increase in any country in the world. one of hong kong's leading pro—democracy campaigners has fled the territory, following china's introduction of sweeping new security powers. beijing has called on the united kingdom to stop interfering in its domestic affairs after britain's offer of a pathway to citizenship for holders of a national overseas passport. now on bbc news — hardtalk.
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welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. thanks to a staged—managed referendum, vladimir putin can now seek to extend his rule over russia until 2036 if he chooses to do so. is there any opposition movement in russia that can challenge his grip on power? well, my guest today is one of the co—founders of the feminist punk collective pussy riot, nadya tolokonnikova. what, if anything, will stir russians to rebellion? nadya tolokonnikova, welcome to hardtalk. hi.
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to nobody‘s surprise at all vladimir putin appears to have got the approval of the russian people for the new constitutional arrangement which could in theory see him be the elected president of russia all the way through to 2036. what is your reaction to that? well, you know what? they printed the new constitution and they put it in the book shops before the election. so you may see that this election did not mean anything and it was rigged from the very beginning. well, it is a heartbreaking number, isn't it? 2036. but i feel like guys like vladimir putin feel like it is a matter of life and death to them to be in power.
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they've already committed so many crimes, they cannot leave. that is why he is trying to stay in power. there was some discussion amongst the opponents of putin in russia about whether the best thing is to just not recognise the legitimacy of the referendum at all, or to go to the polls and vote no. which did you feel was the better option for those who oppose putin? well, i personally thought it was better to go there actually and vote no, because i feel like if you are not participating in the elections at all, you arejust giving up from the very beginning. although i am acknowledging the fact that this election was rigged from the very beginning, i feel it is still useful to at least try and resist when you can. as one of the most high—profile opponents of mr putin to come out of russia in recent years, do you acknowledge that mr putin does command the support of a pretty clear majority of the russian people? the respected levada institution, which does polling in russia month on month, at the moment they say
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that their polls show he has about 60% support amongst the russian people. do you accept that? well, it's a little bit tricky to make gains in any territory in any state. it is a bit like being in nazi germany, when everybody wants hitler. if you are saying no, then you are killed. right now one member of pussy riot is injail and possibly facing official charges, but there have been two searches of his apartment and the cops are talking to him
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because they suspect him of organising mass riots. that is what happens to you if you say that no, i don't approve of vladimir putin, when they make the poll. what strikes me is you are talking about hitler and the possibility of state murder for opponents and that might strike some as an exaggeration given that here you are talking to me. are you in russia right now? i am not discussing my geographical location. that is one of pussy riot‘s policies. right, would you try to tell me that you are genuinely in touch with the feelings of the russian people? i don't know where you are, but would you say that you know what the russian people think? well, russia is my home. i travel a lot for work, but russia is the place where i live and where my family is. so, yes. pretty much it. regarding exaggeration, i don't know if you are familiar with the case of boris nemtsov,
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who was murdered in front of the kremlin, he was shot in the back and he was a prominent opponent of vladimir putin. that is how they work with political opponents. boris was a guest on hardtalk several times and i knew him and i met him in moscow and i am well aware of what happened to him. i am aware, having visited russia and talked to russians, that many russian people remember the chaos, the economic instability and the political instability of 1919 and still, some of them, look at vladimir putin and they see him as some sort of insurance policy, some sort of stability, and they think they are better off with him than without him. what do you say to them? well, this year i have not seen people saying those things for awhile. it was a common sentiment in the first ten to 12 years of vladimir putin's rule.
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but i feel like — well, no, when things started to change was when russians felt the economic crisis after the annexation of crimea because putin promised to make russia great again to everyone. in 2014, almost everyone, a lot of people in russia were cheerful to him rebuilding the soviet empire, but after the economic crisis, a lot of people started to question his policies being like, is it worth it? more and more people wanted to be a normal european country. but, yes, for the first dozen years of the rule of vladimir putin lots
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of people were following this kind of logic that he presented, but it felt to me it's always false logic, if the 90s sucks, it does not mean that vladimir putin sucks, because we did have some freedoms. for example, within the state he introduced homophobia and most of the performers on television are gays, trans and lesbians and we can see nothing of that at all on state television right now. it is interesting that you have raised the cultural changes in russia. you are an artist, a musician, a performing artist, part of the pussy riot collective, and throughout your still young life you have been involved in very, to 2008 and that moment where you took over a museum with some sort of performative group sex that you were involved in, and you were still a teenager at that point.
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i was 18, if you can say i was a teenager. i guess what i'm trying to ask you is whether you think your brand of radical art appeals to russians, or whether you are in some ways sort of provoking them? are you engaging russians with that kind of art or are you turning a lot of them off? well, it is really important to understand the role of art in society and it doesn't have to be like that for everybody. it doesn't have to be able hundred dollar belt. when we staged it in the museum it was our statement about the upcoming elections because we were like, oh, it is much better to use the election booth for public sex than for voting.
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the role of contemporary art is not to be comfortable. when we started our path in art it was quite a questionable time for art because we started in 2007 and most of the art were so—called post—modern art and most people did not care about political ideals or anything, they wanted to create pure aesthetic value and we hated that. we wanted to make strong political statements and we used all the power we had in our hands and our bodies to make that. because in 2007 it was extremely unpopular to be a political activist in russia, like you would never get laid if you were a political activist in russia. it was extremely unsexy and unpopular.
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we had to make really, really, really bold artistic statements, so that is when we started. i argue that we really achieved what we wanted because in 2020 it is extremely fashionable and sexy to people to be a political activist, and if you are not a political activist right now and you are a young person, you are questionable to your peers. well, that is an interesting take on it, but if we fast forward from that performance orgy to that crucial moment in 2012 when you and pussy riot went into the cathedral next to the kremlin and you began your performance of the song that i think is roughly translated as mother of god, pass putin 0ut. you began the performance and you were arrested after a couple of minutes so it did not last too long. but the question still remains doing it that way with the balaclavas, with that dramatic moment
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inside the cathedral, when you look at the reaction to it, particularly inside russia, do you, with hindsight, regret it? no, not at all, why would i regret it? it was really effective political action and it turned so many people into feminists and into lgbt activists. people still approach me on the streets of moscow, transport to 2012, walking along the boulevard and they come to me and say it was one of the eye—opening moments for them. well, you see, like, when you make a political action you don't want people to like you, you try to wake people up. as long as it was done, we feel like it was an important piece of political art. but you asked me why you might regret it and my response to you would be you might regret it because in some ways it strengthened
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vladimir putin's hand. he could pose as the defender of the church, of decency and religion in russia, which he proceeded to do, and he painted you as some sort of extremists, revolutionary radicals. who were pandering to a western audience. and, going back to opinion polls, many russians decided to side with putin and against you. again, coming back to nazi germany, if you just one guy talking to you on tv, and you are in danger if you don't approve of him. obviously you will say that you love him. and that you hate was the riot. also, you have to understand that any authoritarian government behaves like an abuser. so, like, you went through something like an abusive
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relationship at least once in your life and it means that your partner is constantly dissatisfied with you, no matter what you do. they will never approve you, they will never be satisfied with the way you behave, so the same thing when you deal with vladimir putin. you paid a heavy price for what you did. you don't need me to tell you that. you spent 1.5 years in a really harsh women's prison. two years. getting on for two years. and ijust wonder whether you think the price was worth paying? history doesn't know ‘ifs‘. it is not a computer game, you cannot go back and be like, "oh, what if i didn't go to the church." you can't do that, but you can assess the impact that those two years in prison had on you, and you can reflect on where russia is today and you can ponder whether the cost was too high. well, for me personally
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it was really difficult and i am still struggling with ptsd and with the consequences of that because it was really strong. and i am still on antidepressants, although it has been eight years since getting out ofjail. no, it has been six years since we got out ofjail. anyway, russian prison is not fun. but the thing is, trying to change politics is not really a fun thing and if you fight with really strong and powerful men and try to change the situation, it always kind of turns against you. we were not prepared to go to jail because we were making symbolic art actions and we did not think we were going to go to jail because of that. we knew that lots of activists who are prominent and effective, they end up in some kind of trouble, so we were prepared for some sort of trouble. so i cannot say i was going into activism with completely closed eyes, so i knew that
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something was coming. i think this experience was really important because i learned about what was happening in russian prisons. this is something that you will never learn if you are not a prisoner. you know what i mean? the system is completely closed. and we used this experience to build something that helps prisoners and we used this terrible experience to build a media organisation that reports on tortures that is happening inside prisons on a daily basis in russia. you talk of your depression, and you also know much better than me about what happens to a lot of people who are active in ngo. many ngo activists end
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up getting arrested. your ex—husband is currently struggling in russia for his activities. are you not extremely fearful given your past experiences that you could end up back in prison? i'm ending up on antidepressants almost on a daily basis. the last time i was trying to make music in st petersburg, in february of this year, cops showed up after as filming for a0 minutes, the accused us of gay propaganda. how did they know if they did not film the video? they did not see the product. anyway, they shut down the electricity. the next day, just trying to make a fashion photo
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shoot, not political, i was arrested and brought to the police department with all the clothes and all the designers and photographers and we had to make a photo shoot inside a police station. we are trying to turn it into a joke. i guess humour is a big tool, how you work with oppressive systems. it does not always help. in most cases if you have help of your comrades, if you are in a community, and if you use a sense of humour, it really helps, and that makes you less fearful. how do you feel about the support, or maybe lack of support, in the west? you have some high—profile celebrity supporters. everybody from madonna to katy perry to others. do we have katy perry? i think so. wow!
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you also performed live in the us and in europe. but your position on the way western governments handle vladimir putin seems to be ambivalent. you seem to feel that the west talks tough but does not deliver, is that it? it is a little bit more complex. if you try to summarise my attitude toward what i would like to see more from western governments, i would like to see more sanctions around people who surround vladimir putin. but it is important not sanctions against normal russians. because if you make it more difficult for russians to travel abroad, they become even more fans of vladimir putin.
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then russia is the only place they can see. you have to help ordinary russians to go abroad and see that life there is not so bad. because they try to portray the traditional russian mainstream view, they try to portray western life as homosexual hell, basically. they say there are homosexuals trying to attack normal people in the streets and turn them into homosexuals. they also accuse ngos of taking western money and being agents to undermine the russian state. do you get any money from western agencies or governments? that would be awesome if someone just gave me money like that! we have built our ngo on money from our own fees. club shows, venues.
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we put all those money into building our media outlet and ngo in russia. you do a lot of festivals, and immersive theatre, that attracts a lot of young audiences in the us and europe. what is your message to them about what works in terms of activism against what you would regard as authoritarianism ? you have had ten years to think about the most effective protest. what do you think really works? in all honesty, i would love to say that our action works. what really works is mass people's movement. you have to do art activism when you do not have access to mass people's movement. that is what we did in 2008 when we started. not enough people cared about politics. but i feel that movements, like what we saw in russia at the end of 2011,
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when thousands of people hit the streets, the movement thatjust happens, that is happening now in the united states, black lives matter movement, in every city, on every streets, they are not going to leave until change will happen, this is the most effective thing ever. but in order to be inspiration for this movement, musicians write songs, cinematographers do movies, journalists do their work. i feel like we all can contribute to building this mass people movement. a final thought which takes us back to russia, back to vladimir putin in powerfor so long, possibly for a lot longer,
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there are russians today who are now becoming adults, voting age, who have known nothing in their lives but the reality of vladimir putin being the boss. how do you reach them? most of the time those young russian people, they reach me, because they are really fed up with putin. they started to hit the streets a few years ago. it was a big surprise for all of us, including me, to see kids, 1a, 15 years old, fighting with riot police. that can be really problematic because they get taken to the police stations without their parents. this is a sign of hope. it is just a question of time when vladimir putin will be overthrown because they are becoming the majority, they are becoming people who will decide how our country will see the future. right?
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i have nothing that's just words of encouragement for them. go, do it. with that word from you, nadya tolokonnikova, we have to end this interview. thank you forjoining me from your undisclosed location. thank you. thank you so much. good morning. we're halfway through 2020. it's supposed to be the middle of summer but the weather is very un—summerlike, unfortunately at the moment.
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as you can see through thursday afternoon, across the midlands and south—east england, we had a rash of showers and some of those were heavy and thundery with it as well. we did close the day on thursday with a window a finer weather out to the west, but look what is waiting in the wings. more cloud and more rain on its way, an area of low pressure will push in over the next few hours, bringing some heavy rain with it and if we look out into the atlantic, we can see that it is fairly extensive and will have a conveyor belt of wet and perhaps pretty windy weather for this time of year. it will, however, be a relatively mild start. double digits with the wind direction coming from the southwest with more of a humid feel developing across the country. some of the rain through northern ireland and western scotland first thing in the morning will be quite heavy. we're going to see a couple of inches of rain maybe more to higher ground as we going into the afternoon and it starts to pep up across wales as well. so, this is a snapshot into the afternoon, scattered sharp showers through the northern isles. central and southern parts of scotland will see heavier rain, particularly the further
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west you are, the rain easing a touch into northern ireland with some heavier bursts across wales and southwest england. maybe the midlands and the southeast of england staying largely dry for much of the day, and if that happens, 21 degrees will be the high. we will see more wet weather feeding in particularly through northern ireland, southern scotland and northern england and it will stay pretty breezy to the south in particular. and because that wind direction again from the southwest, it will drag up some pretty humid air with it, so, despite the cloud, you will notice the feel when you're stepping outside. some of that rain fairly persistent through northern ireland, southern scotland, and in northwest england and wales, and just like last weekend, pretty windy with it and unusually windy for this time of year with gusts in excess of potentially 30 miles an hour. we do manage to get a few breaks in the cloud and there will be very few and then temperatures will likely peak at 22 or 23 degrees. that humidity will start to ease for the second half of the weekend as the wind
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direction changes to more of a northwesterly. so, a cooler source but weather will start to dry up at the beginning of next week. take care.
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this is bbc news — i'm david eades with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. cleared for landing in england — the government lifts quarantine rules for visitors from france, germany, spain and italy. us prosecuters charge the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell, with grooming young girls for her former boyfriend — the convicted paedophile jeffrey epstein. she pretended to be a woman they could trust. all the while, she was setting them up to be sexually abused by epstein, and in some cases, by maxwell herself. texans are ordered to wear face masks across much of the state — as covid—19 cases continue to soar. and heavier than 350
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