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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 18, 2017 4:30am-5:01am BST

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attack in the town of cambrils, south of barcelona. five suspected terrorists wearing what appeared to be suicide belts were shot and killed. the operation‘s linked to thursday's deadly van attack in barcelona that left 13 dead and more than 100 injured. spain's prime minister, mariano rajoy, said jihadist terrorism was to blame for the attack. spanish officials have said that the victims of the rampage came from at least 18 different nationalities. president trump has criticised efforts in several us states to remove statues honouring civil war leaders who fought to defend slavery, saying that america's culture and history were being ripped apart. he said the controversial monuments were beautiful would be "greatly missed". now on bbc news, it's hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. in the age of donald trump, maybe we're getting used to international politics
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delivering the unexpected. nonetheless, the political career of my guest today is still breathtakingly bizarre. mikheil saakashvili served two terms as president of georgia. he then abandoned his home country to take citizenship in ukraine, serving as a regional governor until he fell out spectacularly with the ukrainian president. now he has been stripped of ukrainian citizenship, and is stateless. so is this the end of mikhail saakashvili's political career? mikheil saakashvili, in warsaw, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you for inviting me, stephen. i have to ask you, why on earth are you in the polish capital? is it because, as a stateless person, you have no home, and you really don't know where to go? well, i have a home. i have a home, certainly, in ukraine. that is my permanent place of residence. and i still have a home in georgia. i am here because i was invited by my polish friends, after this decision of poroshenko. and i am here because it is close to ukraine, and because from here i am planning my return to ukraine, which i have announced that would take place on 9 or 10 september, and we need to deal with a number of organisational aspects of that whole enterprise. well, yes — a very polite way of putting
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it, "organisational aspects." the truth is, if you go back to ukraine on 10 september, as you say you will, i can only imagine you will be detained as an illegal entrant into the country, because you don't have any right to be in ukraine. you have been stripped of your passport, and your citizenship. well, first of all, i have full legal rights. even if one considers that i am a stateless person, which obviously is a very debatable thing, but if i am a stateless person, i am a stateless person in ukraine. and stateless persons in ukraine, under the ukrainian constitution, enjoy all the rights of — all the human rights inside ukraine. that is first. but second, the whole way how they did it, you know, quite unprecedented. that i was on my private trip to the united states. president poroshenko waited for me to leave. they changed the commission, added new members, even more loyal to him. and without any prior notification, without any public hearings, or any kind of hearings, in a very secret manner, they stripped me of citizenship,
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in violation of the ukrainian constitution, in violation of the 1961 convention on the reduction of statelessness. yes — the problem is, you broke the rules. so i am going back to ukraine to fight for my rights in the court. well, yes, you might have your day in court, i suppose, but let's go through this by stages. will you accept that you broke the rules? you didn't, when you signed all the forms, filled the forms in for ukrainian citizenship, you didn't declare that you were under criminal investigation in georgia. and you should have done, according to ukrainian law. well, certainly it's not true. first of all, i declared everything, and they demanded that i get all the documents, which i filled. because they published documents with my fake signature, and the prosecutor general of the ukraine, in conversation, realised it was a fake signature, because he knows me well and he knows my signatures, because i happened to award him
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with medals when i was president of georgia, something like that. so this wasn't even my signature. but even had that been true, which it is not true, ukraine's president has no right to deprive ukrainian citizens of citizenship, and specifically when you don't have any other citizenship. and there is the fact that many people in ukrainian parliament, ukrainian politics — and ukrainian oligarchs, mainly — they have other countries‘ citizenships. they never deprived them of anything. they just went after me, because there was clearly a political motivation. and, with regard to the so—called criminal cases review, though, with regard to the criminal cases review, you let me finish that. ukraine's prosecutor general twice wrote back to georgia prosecutors saying that it is purely a political matter. there is no legal substance to the criminal matters in georgia, and ukraine refused officially to recognise that, on two occasions. so that takes care of the issue.
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so i am going to stop you, because it is complex, and i am trying to simplify it for our audience. because going back to 2007, when you were president of georgia, it is now alleged in the georgian courts, and you face charges as a result of this, it is alleged that you abused your power in the way that you handled and repressed some protest demonstrations, and also in the way you tried to intimidate, it is said, an opposition tv station. now, those are charges that you face in georgia. the ukrainians have said that, if you try to get back to ukraine, they will then consider a georgian extradition request to send you straight to stand trial. so why don't you just miss out the middleman, face the music, and go to tbilisi and make your case before a court? because i am an active politician. i am the leader of a rapidly growing party in ukraine. i have lots of supporters in ukraine, and i pledged
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to the ukrainian people that i will carry until the very end the flag of the reforms which i, along with other people, happen to symbolise. that's first. second — when you talk about so—called charges, they have not been recognised by any other countries in the world. interpol specifically refused to issue a search warrant, or an arrest warrant, only because from the outset it was clear that it was politically motivated. you are referring to the charges which were brought by the russian oligarchs who happen to be in control of the georgian government. he was installed by president putin after i had finished — basically, after i had finished my two terms in parliament, with parliamentary elections. he happened to be the biggest private shareholder of the russian gazprom. and this man got $2 billion for elections, with a specific mandate which was openly articulated both by putin and medvedev. he said we want, in georgia, a government that will try saakashvili. you know what is funny about this —
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this is all extraordinary complicated. and no—one takes them seriously. well, it is all very complicated. people might struggle to get a grip on this. but one thing people might understand is the phrase "what goes around comes around." and this man, bidzina ivanishvili, that you describe as a russian oligarch, but in fact, of course, he has georgian citizenship, he has been your enemy for a number of years. when you were premier of georgia, you tried to strip him of his citizenship, and here you stand as a man who's been stripped of your ukrainian citizenship. you are a man who has played games in a very, very difficult region for a long time, and frankly, it has come back to bite you on the bum. let me make it very clear. ivanishvili lost his citizenship automatically, because he got another country's citizenship, and that's how citizenship in georgia is. however, no—one has expelled him from the country, unlike poroshenko
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did for me, against me. and second — we specifically changed the law because he was, back then, the leader of one of the biggest parties. we changed the law specifically for him, and allowed foreign nationals from the european union, quite an exception, to run for elected office in georgia. we specifically accommodated the law to safeguard the democracy. so these are two radically different cases. i wish poroshenko had done it. if poroshenko did the same thing to me as i did to ivanishvili, i would have been more than happy if he allowed me into the country legally, and allowed me to run in the elections. then he cannot even... even if it is without citizenship. so these are not the comparisons. we will get to ukrainian politics in just a second. i wasn't afraid of him, initially, as competition. i never was afraid, despite his money, and poroshenko was afraid of me. and when you said, is it the end of the political career of saakashvili?
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no, but i think it is the end of the career of poroshenko. he showed extreme negligence of the law, and he looks like a very bad, but also very weak, politician. but also the oligarchy system in ukraine, which had been destroyed in ukraine for the last — only five years. this is very interesting, because you now condemn poroshenko, describe him as the friend of the oligarchs, a man who has completely failed ukraine. of course, he was a great friend. you were at college together. he was the man who invited you in 2015 to come to ukraine, encouraging you to take citizenship, and then offered you the appointment as governor of the 0dessa region. have you paused for a moment of sort of self—reflection, to wonder why poroshenko now regards you as extremely bad news, like so many other people in your career? you seem to have made an awful lot of enemies. and the most recent one, of course, is mr poroshenko himself. look, you said — you were exact when you said i studied in ukraine. i spent altogether 13 years
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of my life in ukraine, and i was not invited to ukraine by poroshenko. basically we came almost at the same time to study in ukraine, from other countries. he came from moldova, i came from georgia. now, i was, as a student, part of the first ukrainian revolution, and then the first maidan. i was there on the second maidan, and i stayed after second maidan, even if the leader decided to do the same thing as poroshenko is doing to me now, to declare me persona non grata. so part of the ukrainian landscape and history for the last 25 years. no offence, but you are not ukrainian, you are georgian. i am georgian. i am proud to be georgian, but there are intertwined stories of georgians and ukrainians. there were ukrainians fighting for georgia in the ‘90s against russian immigration. there were officers on the front, on the eastern front. there are many people
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of georgian origin in ukraine, in the ukrainian political spectrum. there is a ukrainian minister in the georgian government. so, if you'll just talk about ethnicity, these countries are interconnected. and you're exactly right, i've got lots of enemies, but i would be very unhappy if they don't consider me theirfriend. but what we have in these countries is that oligarchs took over. and things are not as they look, because georgia is controlled by one oligarch, moldova is controlled by another, ukraine is controlled by several oligarchs, that control the entire government and more than 70% of ukraine's gdp. and then western politicians come, shake hands of, in the case of moldova and georgia, prime ministers and ministers, in the case of ukraine of ministers. and they are not in charge of the countries. so who is in charge of those countries are oligarchs. stop pretending. well, let's agree... hang on, hang on. i need to ask you some questions,
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or we won't get anywhere. let's agree that you have lots of enemies in ukraine. you call them oligarchs and kleptocrats. but the problem for you is that you went to ukraine, and to 0dessa in particular, saying you are going to root out corruption, you are going to clean out that region. you failed to do that, because corruption clearly was still prevalent when you were there. and the problem is, many ukrainians thought that you weren't really focused on doing a job in odessa. you were too busy playing politics in kiev, because you wanted the top job for yourself, of prime minister. and to quote the actual prime minister, yatsenyuk, he said you are nothing but the travelling showman and blabbermouth. you were invited into this country to promote reform, not to engage in politicking. that was your mistake. look, i have been offered three times, on three occasions, by president poroshenko to become
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prime minister of ukraine. and i declined, and it is a well—known fact. i declined it because i thought that the present circumstances, theyjust wanted me for a facade, because that was the moment where i first became popular in ukraine. they thought it would sell to their populations real reforms. well, a majority of these people did not want the reforms. from the very beginning, you rightly said that i stood by poroshenko‘s side. i don't regret it, because basically things were starting well. things were starting well after maidan. we adopted anti—corruption laws, we created a national anti—corruption bureau, and i was at the helm of making it, together with others lots of young, idealistic ukrainians who came to different positions in government. and indeed, i went to 0dessa as part of a deal to clean up the most corrupt, but the most strategically important, region of ukraine, and also a region that was strongly destabilised by separatists and moments
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of moscow intrusion. and i went there specifically, with clear promise from poroshenko, that he would help me to clean up there by also changing some laws in kiev, and by making customs more transparent, by making the tax system better. and instead, we got exactly the opposite. the very moment when i confronted it — and i think we delivered on customs in odessa, which is the most important customs in ukraine — for all the time i was there, it was absolutely clean, and that is a well—known fact. then, we created the best public services in the whole of ukraine. i basically pushed the central government, for the first time in a0 years, to build a very important strategic road, to restore it, because it was the worst in europe. we had some achievements. you're making a case... the fundamentals, changing the laws, allowing them to be reversible, poroshenko played the other side.
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that is the main reason i said... you quoted yatsenyuk, but two days ago, there was the big anticorruption charge, another wave of cracking down on pro—democracy and anti—corruption. do you know what government people were saying? you are an anticorruption fighter, why do we have corruption if we are so successful. they are blaming us for their vices, for them willing to kill their country. we are doing our best. these guys, these young ukrainians, are doing their best, and they turn around and say we will prosecute you for failing to tackle corruption. very cynical. your narrative has a lot of holes in it. one of the big ones say you are mr clean, you were going to clean it out and poroshenko stopped you. the political movement you founded in ukraine, the movement of new forces, you say poroshenko is very frightened of it. why would he be? you've seen the opinion polls. you and your party in ukraine stand at the grand total of 2%. so, why would mr poroshenko be frightened of you now?
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they are two different things. i am one of three orfour orfive, one of the most popular politicians in ukraine, and no one argues that. there are periods when i am the most popular, third, orfourth... i don't doubt that you have high recognition. but whether you have popularity is another question altogether. you can see the polls. it is obvious. i am one of the most popular in ukraine. i created a political party with almost total blockage of media. there was a situation that was obvious, for instance, they registered absolutely under the same name, the ministerforjustice of the ukraine registered another political party. the usual trick when tjey are afraid of somebody.
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but yet the young people are rising up. it is notjust one party. overall in the ukraine there is a wave of new generation ukrainians stepping up. i am not asking for myself. i am an icebreaker. we need them to break through the hurdles the oligarchy created. look at ukraine, a world—record holder for the lowest growth of gdp in the last few years. i am in poland. poland, ukraine, they started with the same conditions, and now look at poland. there are two central differences, poland has oligarchs and no corruption. arguably, they had more resources in poland. they were very lucky with their political class. this political class showed theirfinalface, an ugly face, with the last
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moves against me. let's look at the bigger picture. do you worry in the course of your career, i am thinking about georgia and the ukraine, you have sown such chaos, going to war with vladimir putin in 2008 in georgia, and your decision now to essentially declare political war on president poroshenko who you accuse of being a friend of crooks, bandits, and oligarchs, are you not concerned that by sowing this chaos in these two rucial countries, first georgia and then ukraine, you are inadvertently doing the work of vladimir putin? what poroshenko did was what vladimir putin wants. putin has such pleasure from it. it is unfortunate. he was the first foreign politician to respond to it. he did so with greatjoy. you don't need any extra proof. look, you said i sowed chaos in georgia. under my leadership, georgia's gdp went up from 127th
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to number nine in the world, four times. we have been the number one reformer 5—6 years in a row with my leadership. double—digit growth through my leadership. we are a role model for the entire region. you can quote gdp, i accept that improvement, but you can also point to the fact you took a risk. you thought you could stand up to vladimir putin and you failed. you started a conflict you could not possibly win. the consequences of that are still being felt in georgia and ukraine today. that's your legacy. stephen, i have been
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on your show several times. sometimes russians say i'm crazy, but i think you know i'm a little bit crazy. i would never be crazy to go and confront russia. it is just like blaming ukraine that russia attacked them. we are the victims. despite the russia attacks, georgia withstood it and has the fastest development, strangely, after 2008, after the world financial crisis and the russia attack. george's cities mushroomed and jobs went up and they beat every international benchmark and rating. that has happened under my watch. ukrainians are aware of that and ukrainians would want to repeat it in ukraine. they deserve it, they are heroic. you cannot blame them for being attacked. they get attacked every day. you cannot blame them for it. they were standing their ground in protecting their country together
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with many georgians who fought alongside them. before we end, a quick question about donald trump and the way the region, your region, sees donald trump. you made a great point when donald trump got victory in 2016, talking about your association with donald trump. you posted on the internet posters of you and donald trump back in 2012 shaking hands and doing a deal for a hotel that never got built. yet you criticised poroshenko for siding with hillary clinton. as you look at the region today, do you really think in with donald trump is in the interests of ukraine or indeed georgia given his relationship, his ambition, to build a warmer and better relationship with russia? well, first of all, i am very proud of the project we had in georgia.
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it did not get built because i left the government. for the last five years since i left, as i said, the gdp of george quadrupled onto my watch. basically, it is not... in dollar figures, it is less than under my presidency. a disaster. basically all big projects stopped, and so did trump tower. isn't it true that donald trump is a bit of a disaster for ukraine? isn't that the truth? look, the united states have been very supportive of ukraine's central integrity. and i think that has not changed. we had rex tillerson here and he was very supportive. ukrainians deserve all the support of the world for what they achieve. i would not exaggerate what donald trump stands for being good for russia. he is not good for russia's economy and military. i was lobbying in congress
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for ukraine to defend itself. not good for russia. things are moving in the right direction. if we speak to you again one year from now, will you be in politics or prison? if i am in prison, you won't be in a position to speak with me. hopefully, we will speak again. hopefully we will win and everything i will come true. we have to end it there. mikheil saakashvili, thank you very much. i hope we can speak again in one year. indeed. thank you very much. hello there.
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friday is looking a bit cooler across the board, and there'll plenty of showers around, too, some of them merging together to produce longer spells of rain, particularly across the north and the west of the uk. we start the morning off, though, with sunshine and dry in the south and eastern areas. there will be plenty of showers from the word go, particularly across scotland. some merging together to bring longer spells of rain in the north—west and eastern areas as well. a little bit of sunshine to the south.
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some sunshine and one or two showers for northern ireland. temperatures around 12 degrees in belfast to start the day. england and wales, most of the showers in northern and western areas. whereas for the midlands eastwards, it should be a largely dry start. temperatures around 15—17 degrees, but quite breezy, particularly close to the irish sea. in fact, irish sea coasts will be windy through the day. it'll remain wet in the northern half of scotland. and this feature across ireland will push towards wales and western parts of england later in the day, to bring more prolonged rain here, too. the south—east should see plenty of dry weather. top temperatures — 21 or 22 degrees, so cooler than what we saw on thursday, certainly across northern and western areas. during friday night, it stays blustery, further pulses of rain, showers moving through. but it does tend to turn a little bit dryer by the end of the night. and a few cooler spots, as well, in rural places,
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central and northern parts. saturday starts off fine and dry. in fact, we're in between weather systems, so it's looking pretty good through the country. still quite a windy day, but far fewer showers, and they'll be much lighter, as well. staying dry, especially in northern and western areas. 20 or 22 the high, around the mid—to—upper teens celsius across the north. this area of low pressure hurtling across the atlantic towards our shores will contain the remnants of what was hurricane gert. so it's going to bring a surge of rain, strengthening winds to south—western areas on sunday. northern and eastern areas actually starting off dry, with some sunshine. a bit of uncertainty as to how far and heavy this rain will spread north and east. but what it will do is also introduce a brief surge of warmer and more humid air to southern parts of britain as we head on in towards the start of next week. but, again, a bit of uncertainty depending on how much sunshine there will be. we could be looking at temperatures reaching the mid—20s. but cool air lurks behind that weather front, where we could see rain as it slowly starts to spread southwards. this is bbc news.
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i'm james menendez. our top stories: police have killed five suspected terrorists in the spanish resort town of cambrils — they were carrying bomb belts and had run over civilians with a car. the operation‘s linked to thursday's deadly van attack in barcelona that left 13 dead and more than 100 injured. we report from war—torn mosul, a city emerging from the shadow of islamic state as its once prestigious university prepares to reopen. promises, promises — we take a look at which campaign pledges president trump has kept and which he has not, at least so far. china's lenovo gives up the crown as the world's biggest pc maker after some very disappointing results.
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