police in the australian state of victoria is confirming a man deliberately ran down people in melbourne. some witnesses have spoken of shots being fired. one person has been killed and dozens injured. donald trump has promised to bring americans together and "do things for the country that haven't been done in many, many decades." meanwhile, at least 20 firefighters are thought to have been killed after a high—rise collapsed in tehran. they were battling a blaze in the 17—storey building when it crumbled on top of them. authorities said the upper floors were occupied by cramped garment workshops. the exact cause of the fire is still unknown. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to a special edition of hardtalk from moscow. i'm stephen sackur. for 17 years, one man has dominated
the politics of the russian capital. vladimir putin. externally, he's projected russian power from ukraine to syria, and internally opposition has been repressed, intimidated and silenced. but not altogether. my guest today is the most prominent leader of russia's anti—putin opposition, alexey navalny. now, he has committed to fighting putin in the 2018 presidential election. but will his defiance cost him dear? alexey navalny, welcome to hardtalk. thank you very much for having me here.
you have been involved in opposition politics of one form or another for almost ten years, maybe more, and itjust seems to me that right now, your position is perhaps more dispiriting, more depressing than it's ever been before. do you agree? absolutely not. actually, ironically, i can call vladimir putin as my godfather in politics, because when he came to power and the way he talks and the way what he's saying, what he's doing, the laws he's passing through duma, told me that russia is done with democracy and i should do something, i should join the opposition movement. but, you know, i didn't find myself in the more depressing situation than previously. for example, in 2008, the biggest rally, biggest meeting i participated in was maybe 100 people, maybe 200,
and meeting with 1,000 people was tremendously big, but in 2011, 2012, we saw rallies participating with hundreds of thousands of people. so i saw different times and it doesn't bother me now how many people come on the streets. i'm just enjoying doing the right thing. but in a way you've just made my point for me. you had a momentum. between 2008, 2011, 2012, it did appear that you were building a real popular street movement, but look at today. today, more than 80% of russians say they approve of president putin, but also the international situation is changing. and in particular, we are about to see a new us president who admires vladimir putin, who says that putin is smart, who says he believes he can trust putin and wants
to work with putin. that's your new reality. well, i have to remind you that, for example, in 2008, everyone in the world, they admired putin and medvedev much bigger than now. do you remember the so—called reset strategy declared by the obama administration? they were just nice friends with mr putin. they are kissing each other, etc, etc. yes, we have momentum... let's be specific. donald trump says, and this is a tweet from just the other day, when he says, "we should be ready to trust vladimir putin". what is your feeling? well, it sounds disappointing for me and it's bothering me because i have no idea why mr trump's so kind with mr putin, because their views on politics, on particular issues, they are 100% different. from migration to the economy, they are 100% different politicians.
but they like each other and it's strange. but, well, i would say that international relationships between kremlin and foreign countries, there wasn't a hard issue inside of russia, so, well, someone‘s good for putin, someone is bad, it doesn't care for me. but do you in any sense feel betrayed by an incoming us president who says that he regards working closely with putin would be a great asset? because in a sense, that works against everything you are trying to achieve. you're trying to tell the russian people that as long as putin is power, russia is going to be facing sanctions, russia is going to be isolated, russia has no internationalfuture. and yet trump's message is very different. well, i don't like it and i could say honestly that i am irritated by this, annoyed by this, but i don't feel betrayed, and i can tell you about moments when i feel betrayed — when putin's oligarch in the top
of the british list of their most wealthy people, when government officials from russia buy an apartment costing £11 million in london, when they are freely travelling all over europe and all over the world despite you have a lot of regulations like, you know, you have a so—called bribery act in russia, in britain, and you can, without any problems, prosecute these people on your own laws for the money—laundering, for the bribery, but they are feeling completely free. i feel a bit betrayed but it doesn't have something with donald trump so far. isn't one of your big problems that vladimir putin has very successfully wrapped himself in the russian flag? he's used nationalism as a potent
political force and he's done it in recent years by projecting russian power beyond your borders, and obviously i'm thinking in particular of events in ukraine, but also what we see in syria today. vladimir putin to your people in russia looks like the strong leader reviving russian power that so many russian people want. vladimir putin just tried to distract russian people from their real problems, like inequality and poverty. we have 23 million russian citizens living below the line of poverty and he's distracting them from this problem with his imperial delusion about making russia great again, and all this stuff. well, you call it an imperial delusion. vladimir putin would say to you, getting back crimea, which is ours, and historically
was always ours, and means so much to the people in this country, that's not a delusion, that is something that he has delivered for the russian people. i would say that everyone in russia would be much happier if vladimir putin delivered some more wealth to the russian people, notjust to his oligarchs, because what is happening in russia in terms of economy, and i will use the favourite term of mr trump, it's a disaster what's going on inside of the country, and, yes, putin has a very aggressive behaviour towards everyone in this world now but it's just because he doesn't have an ability to solve problems inside of russia. are you telling me that your message to the russian people is that if you, alexey navalny, were in power in the kremlin, you would hand crimea back to the ukraine?
is that what you would do? i don't think there are simple decisions on this issue but i would say that first of all i will start a new and honest referendum on crimea and the voice of the crimean people of this honest referendum would be... international law is quite clear — crimea belongs to ukraine and it was annexed illegally, so if you are to reset russia to create a new dynamic between russia and the outside world, you would have to hand crimea back. are you prepared to do that? to tell the russian people you would do that? i would admit honestly that it was illegal. yes, it's true, but there is no simple decision like moving crimea back and forth, right? and i would say that this problem doesn't have any decision for a couple of decades, maybe longer. it would be something like, you know, north cyprus or the territory we are sharing
with japan and arguing with japan for decades, or palestinian territories. all conflicts like this, they don't have a simple solution and maybe they don't have a solution at all. but what we should really consider in this situation is the opinion of the people in crimea and we have no idea what they are actually thinking because the referendum which was done by vladimir putin was just a fake. we need a new referendum, it should be a start of what we're doing later. so the context here again comes back to donald trump, because whether it be on the ukraine—crimea issue, or whether it be on syria, donald trump has indicated that he can foresee the easing of sanctions, maybe even the removal of us sanctions, on russia, if putin will work with him on what trump regards as the big priority, which is the fight againstjihadist terror and the so—called islamic state movement. how would you feel if the united states eased
sanctions against russia ? i cannot support this part of the sanctions which applies towards the russian economy in general since i'm a russian citizen. but i will be definitely very, very unhappy if mr trump will ease and cancel this part of the sanction which applied to the particular personalities, like friends of vladimir putin or putin's oligarchs, or corrupt officials in his closest circle, because actually this part of the sanction is very nice for the russian people and it's supported by the russian people. but to put it bluntly, do you think donald trump cares about issues inside russia? human rights, freedom, democracy? absolutely not, and i would say that the previous administration and previous administrations before obama didn't care about this as well.
practically, you know. some of them said something but in general theyjust don't care and i don't have any delusion about this. you have, from the very beginning of your political activity, focused on corruption. you talked from the very beginning about putin's regime being a regime of crooks and thieves. has it changed in any way during the decade that you've been working on anti—corruption activities? it has changed — it has become bigger. now putin's friends, his very close circle of friends, they just replaced the russian economy itself. 90% of the government procurement is his friends and he has literally maybe five people who just grab all the russian economy, all government documents, all government contracts. look at all roads, all bridges, all tunnels, all construction in russia, the closest associates of mr putin.
they are doing everything. they are supplying equipment for gazprom, they are supplying pharmacy, medical equipment, etc, etc. so let me get this straight — you're saying things have got worse, the corruption is more rampant, the cronyism is terrible, and yet putin's approval rating is at 86%? suggests to me that russian people don't care. well, this is a major mistake. that people are doing when they discuss putin's regime. because they are all the time referring to this rating of approval and it's a mistake to compare russia, which is an authoritarian country right now, to an undeveloped democracy like you have, or we have in eastern europe, for example. we should compare russia to the countries like uzbekistan and tajikistan or zimbabwe. in all of these countries, the leaders have a rating of 95%, and it's just a specific of an authoritarian regime.
they have a maximum rating for approval until the very end of their life. but i want to ask you, could you tell me, please, what was the support of the soviet union, the soviet community party in our country in 1985? 100%. what was the approval of the russian czar in 1916? more than 100%! but it means nothing, actually. and even in 2011, the rating of putin was about 70%, but out of the blue, hundreds of thousands of people came in the streets asking mr putin to go away. right, but hundreds of thousands are not coming onto the streets today. you had your moment when you ran for the moscow mayoralty in 2013. i think you ended up getting 27% of the vote. that in a sense was the high
watermark for you. things have not been so good since. and now, frankly, you are deep trouble. when you leave this interview with me, you have to go to kirov to face yet another court case, where you're accused of embezzlement, and if you lose the case, you're going to face a new sentence, which could involve... but i have the same in 2012 before my mayoral election. i have the same before this rally in the moscow streets. and i guess from 2010 i never had a day in my life when i wasn't under the criminal prosecution because it's the way how they fight me. that's true. you've had convictions, you've had house arrest, you may well end up in prison again. your brother is currently in prison, in solitary confinement. right. you know that you are treading a very fine line, and if you go one inch too far, you will end up in prison or, who knows?
i definitely don't draw this line for myself. ijust do what i can do in this particular moment and i don't care about what the kremlin‘s doing, what their strategy is about keeping me in prison or releasing me. maybe you know that i had actually a moment when they imprisoned me for five years and i spent a night in the prison knowing nothing about what's going on in moscow, where tens of thousands of people came in the street, and they forced vladimir putin, actually, to release me. these people who came in the streets, they are not gone. they are still living in this city, they are still living in the country, and i'm absolutely 100% sure that my programme for this presidential election is a programme based on the needs of the majority of people. let me stop you there. right.
are you absolutely determined...? you talk about your run for the presidency, you're determined, come what may, to challenge vladimir putin in the election which we believe will come in 2018? you are going to run, are you? i'm going to run and, well, i'm not a naive person. i understand the kremlin is very unhappy with me running and i understand that they will do everything to prevent me from running again. recently, several kremlin officials said that, "he's not allowed to participate", but still i'm going to appeal to the people and ask them for support. in this office where we speak, you've already got your logos organised, navalny 2018, but i put it to you that if you lose this court case in kirov based on accusations of embezzlement and fraud, you will be barred from running, and whatever you tell me about your determination... actually it does nothing in the current country. well, as i said, they imprisoned me for five years and they released me on the next day, so what kind of law... ? it was the same with my participation in mayoral elections.
it was almost impossible to participate but when people came on the street and said, we are not going to recognise this election without him participating... so you think you can use people power against putin? absolutely. actually it is the only tool i can use. it's all i have. mr navalny, i'm tempted to say to you, get real! you know what happened to kasparov, who is now in exile, you know what happened to boris nemtsov. i am real! i can assure you i'm real and i have a... my brother's spending his time in jail, he is taken away from his family, and, as you mentioned, he's in solitary confinement. and they are really torturing him every time i'm issuing a new investigation, so i am a guy of the real life in russia and i understand everything, and i do believe that people's support can prevail this strategy, what kind of strategy putin has against me.
boris nemtsov, whom you knew very well, was walking down a streetjust a couple of hundred metres from the kremlin when he was murdered. that is the reality of moscow today. you're not immune from that. in this particular room, we met with him and volunteers and prepared a big rally, and after this meeting with the volunteers, we went on the street and i was arrested for the 15 days and he was killed a week later. so i understand what's going on in russia and i understand a lot of risks and i understand the danger, but this is my country. i'm going to fight for my country and i know that i'm right. and i know that development of the country is much better than capturing new territories. look at the map! we're quite a big country! we don't need new territories. and i'm sure that i will explain
to russian people that my alternative is better than vladimir putin's. let me ask you just one perhaps strange question. why do you think you are free to walk the streets of moscow today? so many other opposition people are not, but you are. could it be that you are useful to vladimir putin, because he can always say, well, look, ah, we are a democracy because alexey navalny is allowed to do his thing, he's allowed to talk to the bbc, he's allowed to run his anti—corruption office? that proves what a free and democratic place we are. you could be a useful tool for him. yes, i'm allowed to talk to bbc but unfortunately i'm not allowed to talk with the russian tv station. you had an interview with mr peskov and you asked him about me several times. did he ever mention my name? the same with putin. even pro—kremlinjournalists, they are laughing about the situation, because for all these years he never mentioned my name. he is afraid of, not about me, but he's afraid of people who are represented.
you talk about dimitri peskov, who i'm going to see again injust a couple of days‘ time. he seems supremely confident that vladimir putin has a grip on this country that will not be relinquished. what would you say to him that might undermine his confidence? well, i guess a lot of russian people have just major question to him, and the question is, why are you lying all the time? for decades, he never said a single word of truth. he's lying all the time. and how he's just managed to have a deal with himself, because, you know, getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror and he said to himself, today i will, again, i will live as a lying human being. the problem is, as you've said in this interview,
you don't get access to russian state tv, you do not get the sort of media coverage... i never had. you can't win. that's the problem. you just cannot win in the system that russia has today. i can and i will. so how do you do it? how do you mobilise these people you claim are out there, all of the anti—putin feeling that you say is in russia today, how do you mobilise it and turn it into a political campaign? well, we started now a campaign just for a month, and so far i have 20,000 volunteers registered in my campaign, so it's the biggest amount of volunteers we've ever had in the history of modern russia. and, yes, you're absolutely right, i don't have access to tv. i never had because vladimir putin took over the last independent tv station in 2001. so i never had coverage from the state media. but i can operate without them. in 2013, on the moscow mayoral
election, without money, without access to the media and tv, i got almost 30%, and i'm totally sure that i would have won in the second tour if in the first tour they didn't make the usual fraud on election. we talked earlier about your brother, who is imprisoned in solitary confinement. it was a court case which involved you and him but ironically he was sent to prison and you escaped prison. he wrote to you recently. he said this. he said, alexey, you must not stop and give in to their demands. even if you are considering quitting, it is out of the question. at what point would you decide that this is not worth it, that you've had enough? i really hope that it will be never such a moment when i decide this, because it means that everything's
useless what i've done before, all this sacrifice made from my family, my brother, made by boris nemtsov, who was killed — he was shot in the back close to the kremlin. a lot of other people — we have political prisoners, hundreds of them all over russia, and if i will stop, it means all this sacrifice is useless. and they are not, and i do believe in what i'm doing, and i do believe that my alternative is better for russia, and i'm absolutely sure that we will succeed and i believe in victory. we're having a tough time right now with this empirical delusion, yes, but trends, political trends are changing. people became poor, people are asking questions, and i have the support from family and from people, and i'm not going to let them down. alexey navalny, we have to end there, but thank
you for coming to hardtalk. thank you very much. hello. wherever we have had clear skies over the past few days, my word, the temperatures have really dropped away. you certainly know it's january. there have been clear skies around here. this is the scene during the course of thursday. we have had a great zone through the heart of the british isles where it has been a murky affair with leaden skies. come further south, this is where we have had the best chance of sunshine. that's the temperature profile as we start friday, but at its extreme, you could be
looking at —3 in the north or —6 somewhere in the south. generally speaking, certainly below zero, quite a widespread frost for the southern counties of both england and wales. stretching up to the midlands and the southern parts of norfolk. we still have the cloudy zone all the way from northern ireland, north of wales and northern england and into the central southern parts of scotland. again, there will be one or two spots across northern scotland that will get away to a bright start with sunshine, a touch of frost and then again, some cloud as we go towards the northern and western isles as well. not a good deal changes on friday with the notable exception, at last, at last, we will push some of the murk out of wales and the midlands and maybe coming up to the southern parts of yorkshire. and then we do it all again. where we have had the clear skies, you get a cold start to the weekend. the system arcing its way up to the eastern parts and that is where we will see the cloudiest weather. a big chance for many
for you during saturday to see sunshine. that may not be the case across the south—eastern corner of both england and wales, but i think you'll see more cloud than you have seen of late perhaps. a slice of bright conditions. that will be the way for many of the fixtures in the scottish cup fourth round. but, it will be cloudy and pretty chilly as well, for any of the premier league matches. dotted primarily across the north—western quarter of england. by sunday, generally speaking, more cloud around. the temperatures are really struggling as well. so the weekend, in a nutshell, a lot of dry weather around. not completely dry, there will be sunny spells around, but both by day and night, it will be on the cool side. as we start next week, there will be a bit of an issue with fog. this is one to watch. it's some way off, but with the high—pressure sitting right over the top of the british isles, there could be a real concern about fog across central
and southern areas. hello. you're watching bbc world news. our top story this hour: america prepares for donald trump's big day. the president—elect has called for unity as he prepares to be officially sworn in. we are going to do things that have not been done for our country for many, not been done for our country for any not been done for our country for many, many decades. it is going to change. welcome to the programme. our other main stories this hour: