from captivity in north korea last week — has died. his family blame his death on what they called the torturous mistreatment he had received at the hands of the north koreans. president trump described pyongyang as "a brutal regime." police in london are still questioning a man on suspicion of terrorism after a vehicle drove into a crowd of muslims worshippers near a mosque in north london. one man died and ten people were injured. the driver of the van was held by worshippers until police arrived. and this story is trending on bbc.com. this is an image from douma in syria. a different scene from the fighting and violence of recent times. these pictures show families coming together to break their fast during the muslim holy month of ramadan. that's all from me now. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sacker. for the 17 years vladimir putin has
ruled russia, as president or prime minister, he hasn't done it alone. he's been backed by a coterie of trusted associates, connected through past ties in st petersburg, or in the kgb or in business. one of mr putin's inner circle is my guest today. vladimir yakunin ran russian railways for a decade and was a close putin adviser. so much so the us made him a target of sanctions after the invasion of crimea. he left the railway two years ago. is he still a true believer in the putin project? vladimiryakunin, welcome to hardtalk.
hello. i think it's fair to say, you, for a decade more, were one of vladimir putin's closest associates and advisers. in general terms, as you look at putin's impact upon russia, would you say that you believe he is taking russia in a very positive direction? thank you for your introduction. listen, to tell the truth, i never considered myself a voice to be in the position to be considered an adviser of mr putin. i was doing my business, i was ceo, i was the head of the project, that is true, but i never was the adviser, to either the prime minister or the president of the russian federation. as far as your question
is concerned, i suppose that is the knowledge and i suppose the reference is to the poll showing that people in russia believe that his execution of power was in favour of development of russia. interesting that... nobody is above criticism, of course, but... interesting that you point to the polls, of course his poll ratings have been outstandingly high for some time, 70%, 80%, but one also can look at the facts on the ground, exercising hard military power in the middle east, and, of course, in neighbouring ukraine, in ways that have isolated russia, have brought international sanctions upon russia, thanks to its invasion of crimea. we also can talk to an economy which appears stalled, stuck in low growth. we can also talk about the sense in which russian economic development has in many ways stalled. now that isn't a record that many
leaders would find easy to run on. listen, you know, everything can be judged in comparison. the president is executing the huge military power, and, you know, there is nothing special involving the execution of the military power for the russian president. and from the point of view of any questions you ask, i am open to discuss anything, but, you know, this is my assumption for the situation. in a sense it's where russia sits in the world. you know personally that the discussion to invade and annex crimea has attracted a great deal of international concern and international sanction. and you yourself in 2014 were named as a close confindante
of vladimir putin, who is now subject to american economic targeted sanctions. two points. firt point, it were not russians, and it were not russian troops, who started the coup d'etat in kiev. it were not russian politicians who were speaking to me, it were european politicians and american politicians. can you imagine that here in london anybody from the russian parliament was in the first row of some kind of protest. impossible. so from this point of view it is very delicate to say how what is going on, how it was arranged. and that is a tragedy from our perspective, i am simple russian citizen nowadays, but i do a lot ofjob in dialogue of civilizations research institute. you run a think tank with offices in moscow and berlin, you have thought about the need
to have a much greater level of understanding between russia and europe in particular. europe is in the vanguard of imposing sanctions on russia right now. angela merkel is probably the world leader who is most concerned with sending a clear message to vladimir putin that his current policies are not acceptable. but, she wnats, together with president sarkozy, two first leaders to come to moscow to talk over the situation in ukraine. in ukraine, we are living through the tragedy of the civil war. and, you know, that is of course only the dialogue, only the understanding, not just sanctions or something like that, to improve the situation. that is my true belief. it's interesting to put this into context. it's not just the fact that the russians have annex crimea, your airforce is playing a crucial role propping up bashar al—assad in syria, but also, russia is projecting all sorts of covert
cyber —based power, and soft power, around the world, sometimes through media, sometimes through perhaps less public forums. in a way, vladimir putin appears to be absolutely determined to play a role, whether it be in the us presidential election, the french or german elections, politics in eastern europe. how grand is this man's ambitions? listen, stephen, why you did not name, you know, the election in great britain? why russian hackers not intervening in these very important elections? no person who knows a little bit about information warfare or something like that never believed that this huge amount of events could be placed and could be started just from one source, and this source is russia. this is not... are you denying all of the evidence, not least the absolutely categorical statements of the fbi director,
as was, james comey, that russia was responsible for meddling in the us presidential election, for hacking those democratic party e—mails, and because of what happened was thereby a key player in that campaign which resulted in donald trump winning the white house? listen, listen, i did not see any solid of evidence. why should i believe fbi former director that he had obvious evidence? why it was not presented to the general public? listen, isuppose, maybe, it is a little more complex than just one side, straightforward decision, i suppose there are a lot of very reputable experts in the west who are challenging these statements. because sometimes it is much easier to place the responsibility on one's own failure on somebody else. it's not going well, is it? this idea of yours projecting a different image of russia to the west.
you can argue about the basis for the assumption, frankly, in washington, that russia was behind the hack of the democratic party, but that is the perception in the united states and across the western world, intelligence agencies, police forces and the public. same can be said, and i can quote you if you want, angela merkel, german intelligence chief, saying there is no doubt that russia is intent on meddling in the german election. this is how you are perceived. listen, stephen, it was not russians who eavesdropped your telephone, why was she was not concerned with that? it wasn't russians. again, the development of it technologies is extreme, extreme important, you know, and valuable feature of contemporary world but it is not that simple. it's backfired. whatever the russian intent was, and you can argue about whether it's
right to put it at russia's door, but the fact is, if you were hoping, and it seems you were, because there were warm words, a direct quote from you, welcoming donald trump, saying he was a man to be admired, picked himself up twice from being knocked down in business. me? yes, this is a quote from you. trump, you said, is a smart guy, he lost two times everything and he raised himself up again. he is addressing some internal failings of the american people. where is the word of "admiring"? ineversaid admiring. that is a hugely admiring comment, is it not? no, no, no. the truth is, i never admired trump, even since i was in new york city. i did not like the guy. but my assumption was don't oversimplify the character of this person. and the fact of this person. that was my point. the bottom line is, what has come out, about the allegations of russian meddling in the united states, through the hacking, the cybercrimes, etc,
etc, what has come out has made it actually more difficult than one could ever have imagined for donald trump to have this positive relationship with vladimir putin. what we've seen is the americans conduct an air strike on assad, which the russians were very angry about. the g—7 meeting, after which the chief economic spokesman for trump said, russia can forget about us advocating a lifting of sanctions, until russia make specific conciliatory moves on the ukraine. donald trump is not giving you any thing right now. absolutely correct, and personally, i never said anything to be considered an expectation on the part of donald trump. what again i said, that is a fact, he is elected president, you know, he is bound by the system. he is not a free man to do whatever he wants. congress, prosecutions, everything. but the fact is, he was, during his campaign, he was addressing some very essential issues of relations with russia, and he stated, listen, i would go to do something to improve those relations, that's only his promise, and he did not fulfil this promise, yet.
i do now want to switch now to russia's internal affairs, and the degree to which when putin tries to project power, for russia, around the region and the world, he is hampered and hindered by the profound weakness of the russian state internally. governance issues, corruption issues, economic backwardness issues which drag down the russian state. listen. i suppose, in some part, i can follow your statements, about changing of the political system, the weakness in the russian economy, and that is correct, but, you know, remember that the history of russia of today is only like, you know, 25 years, or 26 to be more precise. and of course, for such a huge country, it is extremely difficult, and i am not an advocate of the regime, i have no right
to talk on the part of the administration of putin, i am talking as a simple russian who do know something about international politics... or internal politics. let's talk internal politics. when you see the pictures on your tv screen, whether you're in moscow or in berlin of alexei navalny trying to organise an anti—corruption demonstration across the country, he wants 100,000 cities to be involved, arrested before he can leave his own apartment building. the people who go on his demonstration are arrested too, it is impossible for them to voice his strong opinions, do you believe that is a sensible way of approaching governance in your country, or is it damaging? listen, you know, the answer is simple, whether you like the law or not, law should be obeyed. that is correct, for great britain, for the united states of america, for russia. remember occupy wall street,
what happened to those people. remember those protests against trump. but if you know, for example, the authorities accepted the possibility of this demonstration, there were no accidents here. why on earth somebody should not obey the law, i don't think there is anybody immune from the law. the problem in russia, dissent is often a matter of, if not life and death, then certainly freedom or imprisonment. navalny, i have spoken with him recently, he has constantly been harassed by the law.
yet again he's facing trumped up charges, he may well be disallowed from running, as he wants to, in the presidential election in 2018. i have been to his offices, they are constantly being raided. i have interviewed gary kasparov many times, he can no longer live in russia, he says it's not safe for him. this is the reality of the russia that you are defending. i cannot say anything about personal feelings for gary kasparov, for example, but what i can say, i can say, you know, he did not say anything about his attempt to be the mayor of moscow, how it happened. who supported him. he is a freeman. he is flying here, he has meetings with you. but, any regime does not like opponents. navalny met me in his office, in moscow, and office constantly raided
by the police forces, who appear to believe that his activities highlighting corruption in russia, are unacceptable. listen, i don't say it is unacceptable because by the fact that it was, you know, the russian president, again, i am not his advocate, i am not suspecting who is promoting the idea of fighting corruption, but, i do not know all the facts about the office... you do know plenty about alexei navalny, because it was personal between you two, he highlighted the extravagant estate that you purchased outside moscow for many, many millions of rubles. he showed pictures of it, which i've seen, the elaborate, outhousing, the outhouses, court, and apparently, is it true, there was a special room for all of the furs that you were storing inside? this is funny story, just invention. if you are in moscow...
the property was yours, was it not. i invite you to this property. i invite you to this property to find this small storage for the furs, you would not find, but you may find some furs from siberia, etc, etc. how much is it worth, that vast mansion? how much is it worth? i cannot say for sure, but for sure... many, many millions of us dollars. but i was earning yearly very substantial amounts of money. it's interesting that you say that, because in 2014, the government demanded all ceos, bosses of state companies to go public with their income and assets, you refused for some time, and then when you finally acceeded to their request, you declared that your income, i believe, was in the range of 61 to 83,000 us dollars a month.
no way was that an income that could have bought you the vast estate that i'm talking about. listen, listen, i have on my account, in petra bank, all the monies, not all the monies, because i have spent them, very substantial amount of monies. they were my payments, my bonuses, that i was getting as the ceo of the state company. this is true, the tax authorities know about it and they have it, no problem with that. and nobody challenges. there clearly was a problem, because if we get to the heart of it, i have described you as a very close associate of vladimir putin. which is not quite correct. it is, you go back to st petersburg days and kgb days. i know you didn't know him so well in the kgb days. and what's wrong with that? that's the story of many of his closest associates, so it's no surprise. no problem. but what i'm getting too is this, in 2015 you lost your job at the head of state railways. i resigned, better to say. well, it's complicated, some in russia believe vladimir putin decided... let them believe. well, but the reason why it seems you became a problem was because it was publicised, and again, i think this might be something to do with alexei navalny,
it became clear that your own son, your own son. . . don't make him a hero, he is not so powerful to make problems. let's get to the point. your own son lives in a very expensive house in london, and actually took british citizenship... what do you mean by very expensive house? worth many millions of english pounds. exactly. do you know the sum? i believe it was almost £5 million. that is a very huge sum of money. yes. indeed. and it was bought with some credit. is this something very different from the others living here? probably different from the way that most people live, but the point isn't about the vast property empire, it is about the british passport. russia today is full of official noise about how the west is against russia, how the west is trying to undermine and destroy russia, and your own son was seen to be taking british citizenship.
that, in russia, even for mr putin, it seems, put you in a place where he didn't want to associate with you any more. no, i never made any secret that my son was living here. and, you know, because of the special ruling here and the law, he obtained passport, and properly informed the authorities about that. and you know, not correct, saying that all russians are aware of that, "bad west is coming to hurt russia", etc. isn't that the message that they get from the kremlin? no, i don't think so. and this is not true that russians are so afraid of the west. but, what my point is, again, we cannot understand each other, we consider history differently, but the only way to overcome differences, that is to talk. on this question of economic governance and corruption, i can cite you transparency
international report which put russia so far down the league table of corruption that malawi, sierra leone, these are countries that are actually less corrupt, according to them, than russia is today. the heritage foundation saying that private sector in russia is so constrained by the encroachment of the state and the failure to defend the rule of law that foreign direct investment, for example, is a huge risk in russia today. all of these different ways in which putin's russia is failing its people. listen, again, you know, we can name "putin's russia" but russia is a country with state owners, the duma, with the senate, with the president. we are a presidential republic. let's be clear, what really happens in russian today is vladimir putin and his associates in the kremlin and what they say and do.
i don't think so, i don't think so. really? yes, and why, i can explain you. if he is the only ruler of the country, then i suppose it is notjust possible for one person to control huge territory, huge quantity of the people. all different aspects. 70% of gdp, of revenues, the proportion of gdp, 70% come from state owned enterprises. that gives you a sense, an indication, of the way russia is run. this is correct, that is one of the setbacks of the structure of the russian economy. but on the other hand, what we have, we are trying to exploit. yes, oil, gas. but, you know, recently, ijust read the draft of the new legislation in the united states of america, what they are to prevent the construction, stating, we should impose sanctions on russia. for what reason? what is wrong about trade,
what is wrong about trade and oil? i don't think anything is wrong. about corruption, sometimes, yes, we witnessed the facts of this kind of corruption. but sometimes, to me, to myself, you know, sometimes, that is kind of the stories to be invented and presented. listen, we have huge country, a lot of people, people who are creating newjobs, people creating new businesses, people creating new ports, new railways, by the way! all of them, corrupt? it is funny, this is not true. a final point before we finish, i wonder whether you believe putinism and the way that vladimir putin has governed and created a particularform of governance in russia, will that outlast the man himself? or, do you believe that russia will fundamentally change when putin leaves the kremlin?
i suppose this is not a question of leaving one person in the kremlin or not, it is a fundamental question of the titanic changes we observe in the world. russia is not excluded. today i read an article in the latest issue of the economist, which stated the end of neoliberalism consensus. so, you know, that is true to say that russia is developing, the world is developing. and the challenges should occur for sure, but those challenges should not impose from the outside. are you saying you believe in the future russia will not look more like the west but maybe the west will look more like russia? congregation, correct. it is not my term to be invented, that is the long—standing theory of congregation between different systems.
interesting idea, interesting words. vladimir yakunin, thank you so much for being on our show. thank you very much. hello. monday brought the highest temperature recorded in the british isles so far this year and here's one for your diary, if we manage to get as far ahead as wednesday and we're still producing temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, that will be the longestjune hot spell in over 20 years given that by that stage we'll have put together five consecutive days with the temperatures over 30, which we easily exceeded on monday, especially at the hampton water works, 33.5, which beat a number
of more recognised holiday locations across the world. there's something of a change in hand for some parts of the british isles, given we're about to see an old weak weather front tumbling its way further south across the british isles, introducing the prospect for some at least of somewhat cooler, fresh or conditions. quite a bit of cloud to the eastern side of the pennines and an onshore breeze, all of it helping to cool things. those effects won't be felt across the south—west of england or the south—east of wales, temperatures here perhaps a fraction higher than they were during the course of monday. london, perhaps a little bit cooler here, but as we get up to the north—west of england, still plenty of heat, cooler on the eastern side of the pennines. for northern ireland, scotland, quite a bit of sunshine around but you're on the cooler side of the weather front so those temperatures nowhere near as high as the ones i've indicated in the south. you don't need me to tell you the pollen levels have been extraordinarily high of late, that's the way it stays i'm afraid for much of the country through tuesday. the uv levels are also very high and where you get the sun for any
length of time you've got to think about protection. from tuesday and into wednesday, as far ahead as that we could still talk about the hot air from iberia and the near continent to the extent that somewhere across the south—eastern quarter we could look at 32 certainly, possibly as high as 34. as is often the way at this time of year, we bring in a little bit of moisture from the atlantic, pushing that heat underneath it, and things could start to go bang quite violently as well. so it's something we're keeping an eye on at this stage. and wouldn't you just know it, we're starting to think about glastonbury as well. notice how those temperatures towards the end of the week begin to tumble away quite smartly, and, as i say, at this time of year the heat can tend to break down in quite violent thunderstorms. wednesday night into the first part of thursday, they could be a real player in the weather scape.
eventually we'll see somewhat cooler conditions pushing across much of the british isles but it may take a while before we see these temperatures in much of the south—east beginning to tumble away. welcome to newsday. i'm rico hizon in singapore. the american student otto warmbier has died, days after he returned home from prison in north korea ina coma. his parents blame torturous mistreatment. police are still questioning a man in connection with a terror attack targeting muslims near a london mosque. i'm babita sharma in london. also in the programme: more than 65 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced — we look at the figures on world refugee day. and a source of inspiration for the likes of george bernard shaw and oscar wilde — the national gallery of ireland re—opens after a multi—million dollar makeover.