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tv   Our World  BBC News  December 29, 2019 9:30pm-10:00pm GMT

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this is bbc news, the headlines. a man has been charged with five cou nts man has been charged with five counts of attempted murder following a knife attack at the home of a rabbi in new york state. two of the five people injured remain in hospital. two people five people injured remain in hospital. shooting e five people injured remain in hospital. shooting in a texas killed in a shooting in a texas church. the gunmen reportedly walked to the front and a service and opened fire killing one person before being fatally shot by a member of the congregation. ukraine and pro—rich russian separatists completed a long awaited prisoner exchange, the swap is aimed at improving relations between kiev and moscow. in sydney's lord mayor says the city's new year's eve fireworks will go ahead despite more than a
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quarter of a million people signing a petition calling for the display to be cancelled because of the bushfires crisis. at ten p m, reeta chakrabarti will be hit with a full round—up of the day's news. first, time for our world and one of the highlights from the team this year. steve rosenberg explores how vladimir putin's russia is trying to regain its influence 30 yea rs is trying to regain its influence 30 years after the fall of the iron curtain. it's 30 years since the iron curtain fell. for millions across europe, it meant freedom. for moscow, it meant the end of its empire.
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today's russia wants to forget about 1989. but three decades on, russia is reasserting itself. there are fears of a new stand—off with the west. the baltic has become one of the front lines of what feels like a new cold war. as russia pushes for greater influence, i ask its leader how he sees his country. i am on a journey that will take me back to 1989 and across europe, to find out what it was like for moscow to lose an empire and whether russia is building a new one.
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moscow — it is a city that oozes empire. from the skyscrapers ofjoseph stalin, to the residence of the czars. the message is unmistakable — this is a country with ambition. throughout its history, russia has had an unswerving belief in its own greatness. you can feel that inside the kremlin. this is stunning. look at this. this says power, omnipotence.
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this says empire. russia was built as an empire, russia has existed as an empire because the essence is we are great, we have to have areas of influence and we have to have buffer states between ourselves and the outside world. so this is an empire. but in 1989, the buffer states broke free. people power swept away the iron curtain, and with it moscow's domination of eastern europe. what had come to be known as the soviet empire was tearing at the seams. viewed from moscow, these events were earth—shattering. in 1989, i was a student in moscow, i was studying russian
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here and i can remember that every night i would sit down to watch the television news and what i saw, what millions of viewers here saw, was truly remarkable. the soviet empire falling apart, piece by piece. across eastern europe, you could find pieces of the lost empire. this is wunstorf in the former east germany. it was the red army's largest military base outside the soviet union. there is something ghostly about the soviet legacy.
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the scale of the soviet military presence in east germany was staggering. there were 800 garrisons here and half a million soviet troops. but then again, for moscow, this was its key outpost in europe. the wunstorf base feels suspended in time. communist russia was convinced its ideas, its ideology, would bind east germany to moscow forever. but it was wrong. when the berlin wall fell, everything changed. within a year, east and west germany had reunited.
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the red army had been here since defeating the nazis. now moscow agreed to withdraw its troops. this man was the commander at wunstorf. he is back from moscow, for an official event commemorating russia's withdrawal. the general tells me he was the last russian soldier to leave germany.
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it would take moscow four years to bring all its troops home. but to what kind of a country were they coming back? the soviet union had gone, russia was struggling. here in perm region, the returning soldiers were low priority.
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this man had been a tank commander in east germany. when he came home there were no facilities, no proper accommodation, it was almost as if he had been forgotten.
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you know, i think that in many ways, his story encapsulates what happened to his country after 1989. the soviet union, this giant superpower, suddenly found itself dumped on the sidelines of history. and, as a result, russia felt abandoned, it felt lost, and it felt humiliated. perhaps if the end of the cold war had brought instant prosperity to people here, then maybe this loss of status, this loss of empire would have been easier to swallow. but it didn't. the 1990s brought economic chaos and widespread poverty. so what you had here, in effect, was a fertile soil for any
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strongman promising to make russia great again. enter vladimir putin. russia's president is trying to erase the memory of his country's humiliation. to restore its power, its influence. but modern russia isn't reinventing the soviet union — its methods are different. these people in the kremlin do understand that idea of restoration of the former superpower is impossible. but they have other ideas, and their idea is to be a blackmailer, to be a producer of mischief, to be the grand spoiler in the world, to be the nightmare for the neighbours
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and for the outside countries. so this is the new idea of superpower and empire. it is an idea that russia has put into practice close to home. in 2014, masked soldiers in unmarked uniforms seized control of a ukrainian peninsula, crimea. they acquired the nickname "the little green men". but they were russian special forces sent in by president putin after ukraine's pro—western revolution. at a referendum, voters backed joining russia. but the poll wasn't internationally recognised. it had taken moscow less than a month to occupy and annex a piece of its neighbour. for many russians, this was cause for celebration. i first met ira in moscow
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back in the early 1990s. she has a second home now — in crimea. the crimean history has always been connected with russia. in the west, as you know, there is a lot of criticism of vladimir putin for what happened here, for russia taking crimea. i am very grateful to mr putin, and i take my hat off and bow my head to mr putin, because he saved the generations of the crimean people from rivers of blood here. it is a showcase for russian power at sea. since it took crimea, russia has become the dominant force in the black sea region.
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here, moscow doesn't use the word "annexation". crimea, it says, has sailed back to its home port. few believe that outside of russia. what we see is a pattern of behaviour where russia is responsible for aggressive actions against neighbours. that reflects that the main problem of russia is that they still believe in the idea of spheres of influence. in response, nato has bolstered its forces near russia's borders. from estonia's amari airbase, nato jets are regularly scrambled.
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their main task is to intercept russian planes approaching estonian air space, which fail to identify themselves. russia denies it is a threat to estonia or to any of the baltic states. but nato is on alert and taking no chances. the baltic has become one of the front—lines of what feels like a new cold war between russia and the west. to moscow, the presence of nato troops near its border is a direct threat to russia's national security. but nato insists that all of this is purely defensive, and the reaction to an increasingly assertive and aggressive russia. 0ne complaint i often hear from russian officials is that, 30 years ago, a promise was made
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by the west to moscow that nato would not enlarge and move closer to russia's borders. and russia says the west deceived moscow. first of all, no such promise was made. but second, just the idea that washington or a big western ally should promise that to moscow is an idea based on a totally wrong assumption that big countries can promise something on behalf of small countries. russia's new assertiveness extends beyond its military. vladimir putin's kremlin has a range of tools for exerting influence. in latvia, there are no russian troops, but the country's being targeted by russian disinformation.
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there is an attempt to distort reality with fake news. to sow doubt, confusion. russia's objective to discredit a european democracy on its border. and here is one example of what appears to be russian disinformation. this website is aimed at ethnic russians across the baltic but it is part of a news organisation that is bankrolled by the kremlin. what kind of stories does it put out? well, here is one. listen to this. among latvians, it says, adolf hitler is more popular than harry potter. his book tops the reader's book choice in latvia. astonishing. so the impression that you get when you read this is that in latvia, in an eu country, nazi ideology is thriving. sounds incredible.
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but it is fake. in latvian libraries, mein kampf has only been requested 139 times in three years. compare that to 25,000 requests for harry potter. and you won't find hitler's book in the shops here. it has not been published in latvia for over 20 years. i tracked down the key link to the hitler story — it's rita. she runs a second—hand book website in latvia. it had based its report on data from her web page. mein kampf is available through her site and users do appear to be clicking on it — but who exactly? so, it is interesting that about 70% of all clicks are anonymous. and if we compare it
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with the other most popular books like harry potter, 70% are registered users. so if most of the clicks for mein kampf are anonymous, what does that mean? they could be fake users. fake views to make fake news? yeah, definitely. i think the fundamental aim of the russian operation is to undermine the other countries. russia cannot tolerate the success of the baltics that have embraced freedoms and values of the west and can be successful. a good example is very dangerous so you should taint it. if russia has become the grand spoiler, can it be, does it
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still want to be a superpower? this is my chance to ask the president. vladimir putin has just finished an event near the kremlin. it is a rare opportunity to get up close to the kremlin leader. but moscow is looking for ways back into eastern europe and for some russia's return is welcome.
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viktor 0rban — he is the prime minister of hungary — and moscow's best friend in europe. he praises vladimir putin, he criticises eu sanctions on russia. that is partly because he and putin have one thing in common. both are suspicious of western liberalism. for russia, this meeting of minds presents opportunities. this man is an ex—soviet diplomat with connections at the heart of russian government. he heads a soviet era development bank that has just relocated from moscow to budapest.
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for russia, it is a foothold in europe. the bank is totally apolitical. we never do anything politically motivated. five eu countries are members, but russia is by far the largest shareholder. and until recently, the bank was listed as an official organ of the russian state. critics of your bank call it "vladimir putin's trojan horse" or the "kgb bank". in other words, the suspicion is... i am a spy, they also say. the suspicion is is it is tool of moscow to spread spies and agents across europe. is there any truth in that? absolutely not. it is all allegations, and even though they repeated hundreds of times, they have nothing to do with the reality.
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can you understand where the suspicion comes from? because, apologies for getting personal, but you yourself are from a family of soviet spies. which i never concealed. yourfather was the head of the kgb. in budapest, yes. that is how i started to like the city many years ago. and your mother was a soviet agent. that is an exaggeration. my mother, yes, she worked in the first department of the kgb but she retired in 1953, steve. in different ways, russia is trying to restore its influence. for moscow, the real lesson of 1989 is weakness costs power. today's russia wants to forget about 1989. it was, yes, an amazing period but it was the period of backtracking, surrender, defeat.
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now, russia seeks victories. i think that whatever label you give russia — global player or superpower or empire — what i see is a country with a cast—iron conviction that it is great and that great powers must have influence. it's very mild out there. let's see what's in store for the run—up to the new year. very mild in western scotla nd the new year. very mild in western scotland in the last 2a hours.
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0vernight into sunday this plume of subtropical air caused temperatures to hover around briefly 17 celsius in the western isles of scotland, a local phenomenon called the phone effect, when air moves across the mountains, can be a little time to get into details but it could have been a record for this time of year. the weather suggests some rain across western scotland and also northern ireland. this is a weather front that separates that very mild air in the south to something slightly colder, but not that cold, in northern parts of the atlantic. 0n the whole monday for many of us looking pretty dry. he is tuesday. talking about new year's eve. the annoyances for a time that clouds may gather across the south, particularly south—west england, the midlands and wales, so they could be light drizzle but the rest of the country, a fine day and a little bit colder in scotland, around five in edinburgh. in the south, closer to double figures. as we approach that
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all—important midnight, the stroke of midnight, into 2020, these are the kind of temperatures we are going to get, probably hovering around 4 degrees in the north, 9 degrees in the south and wherever you are in the country at the stroke of midnight it does look as though the weather is going to be mostly dry. if you are lucky you will have clear skies, if you are unlucky, probably just cloudy clear skies, if you are unlucky, probablyjust cloudy because high pressure is in charge of the weather so we are very pressure is in charge of the weather so we are very lucky this year and into next, quite often we have low pressures bringing as lashings of rain but not this time. early 2020 is going to bring high pressure, settled conditions and the only thing we are watching out for is some mist and fog. they could be some mist and fog. they could be some mist and fog. they could be some mist and fog on new year's day especially after the night of fireworks, quite often you get sucked in the atmosphere and misty, murky conditions. —— you get sucked in the atmosphere. 0n the whole the weather is looking pretty quiet. temperatures in the south and the north not far off 10 degrees
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celsius. there will be a subtle change, a temporary change on thursday and friday. a weather front is expected to swing in off at the atlantic. it's propelled by an increase in the jet stream towards the north. it does spell rainfall scotla nd the north. it does spell rainfall scotland into the lake district, maybe into parts of northern wales and behind me you can see speckles of white. that's know. this slightly colder weather all the way from iceland and the arctic is only going to clip northern parts of scotland as we head into friday, so here, yes, is stronger winds, as we head into friday, so here, yes, is strongerwinds, even as we head into friday, so here, yes, is stronger winds, even gale force winds, out in the mountains temporary blizzards but for the vast majority of the uk friday is looking absolutely fine. a little bit fresher across the northern half of the uk. still pretty mild in the south, around 10 degrees and sunshine for the vast majority of the uk. saturday and the rest of the weekend, big high pressure centred pretty much across the uk, also france and the low countries, dominating the weather widely across
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europe, not necessarily the mediterranean. further south it looks as though the weather will be u nsettled. looks as though the weather will be unsettled. this is a rain and wind superhighway, jet stream propelling weather fronts temporarily into parts of north—western britain but on the whole again it looks as though the jet stream will ease and brings is quite weather so it's quiet pretty much all the way through.
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tonight at 10pm. the governor of new york describes the knife attacks at a jewish celebration as an act of domestic terrorism. five people were injured — two seriously — at the home of
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an orthodox rabbi during hanukkah.

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