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tv   Unspun World with John Simpson  BBC News  July 3, 2022 12:30am-1:00am BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines. fighting appears to be intensifying around the ukrainian city of lysychansk as russian forces try to take the only remaining city in the luhansk region not under their control. it's come under intense shelling, but a ukrainian spokesman denied claims that russian—backed fighters had now encircled the city. two more britons captured by russian forces in ukraine have been charged with being mercenaries, according to state media. dylan healy and andrew hill are being held in the east. two other british men, along with a moroccan man, were sentenced to death last month. a three—day meeting of religious and tribal leaders in afghanistan has ended with a call on the international community to recognise the taliban government and lift all sanctions on the country. the men—only meeting
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also declared that any armed resistance against the militants would be considered a rebellion. now on bbc news, unspun world. hello and welcome to the newsroom here at new broadcasting house, the bbc�*s international headquarters in central london for unspun world — the programme where we get the unadorned facts about the world's news from the bbc�*s global experts. this week, i'll be asking — as the fighting in ukraine gets worse and more threatening, what do ordinary russians think about the dangers
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of a wider war with the west? support is already quite high and, of course, if the war comes to russian towns and cities, then russia — ordinary russians — definitely will feel that this war is even more justified for moscow. what's life like in syria nowadays — the country where russia developed its tactics for bombarding civilians? you can see in the streets that people are digging in the garbage to get some food. that's something unheard of in syria before. and is international sport in danger of being overwhelmed by middle eastern oil money? what we've seen in recent years | is these countries increasinglyl invest in sport as a means - of legitimising and normalising that country in the eyes of the western world. l western pressures are growing on russia. there are still disagreements about precisely how to impose
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more pain on the russian economy, with the us and britain, who import little or no oil and gas from russia, in favour of tougher measures, and germany in particular, which imports a good deal still, much more cautious. but as a military alliance, nato is pretty much united, and russia's apparently deliberate targeting of the shopping centre at kremenchuk in central ukraine the other day stiffened the nato country's resolve at the key moment of their summit in madrid. but how are ordinary russians reacting to all this? olga ivshina is a correspondent for the bbc russian service and an ethnic russian herself. she's been reporting on the nato summit in madrid. in a way, in that conflict, russia has less to lose than the west, especially in terms of ordinary living, because the conditions
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in which millions of russians are living are way, way, way worse than those people who are living in the west. just to remind you that at least a0 million of russians are living beyond the poverty line. so, if we talk about direct military confrontation and the challenges that it may bring to the population, definitely the bar of suffering for poor russians is way lower. i guess ordinary people are, of course, afraid of such a dramatic rise of hostilities. no—one wants for their cities to be bombed. as for russian politicians, it's very hard to guess, but definitely they have been saying about this for a while. they have been boasting about nuclear — the possibility of nuclear strikes for a while. and this is something which is discussed on russian state tv with a quite ordinary tone. if things do get worse, is it likely that support
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for putin will fade or will it actually strengthen? russians don't hear the alternative point of view. they're not ready to hear that alternative point of view. that's why the support is already quite high. and, of course, if the war comes to russian towns and cities, the ordinary russians definitely will feel that this war is even more justified for moscow. do you get any sense of what sort of proportion of people don't support the war? millions of russians are actually against the war, even according to state—funded polls, at least 25%. so, roughly every fourth russian is against the war, and these are people who are ready to openly talk about it in the state—funded polls. and there are still people who, despite all the risks, despite all the pressure, are actively protesting against the war.
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olga, i'm feeling really guilty about keeping you out in the hot spanish sunlight like this, but there is one question i've got to ask you. this is really all the policy of one man, isn't it? it's vladimir putin himself. what do you think about his chances of surviving all this? definitely, mr putin will try to hang on to power as long as possible. and what we have definitely seen over the past two years is a dramatic shift in the build up of his team. so, before it was — his close circle was mostly built with his university friends, with the people who used to serve with him in kgb in st petersburg. now his inner circle is mostly represented by military people, which influences, definitely influences the way the decisions are made. but definitely he has a lot of chances in keeping the unity
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within that military group, because they share the same view of the world. they share the same values, and they're very used to this war type mentality. as for the longer period of time, it's really hard to predict. we have seen that russia and, in the past, the soviet union, the russian empire, they looked very stable, but then suddenly things went in a completely different direction. and, in a way, it's never possible to predict when that point of no return would come. before russia invaded ukraine in february, its forces had gained their main experience of fighting in syria, where they saved president bashar al—assad when it looked as though he was going to be overthrown during the arab spring a decade ago. since then, russia has systematically stamped out all opposition to him.
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as it happens, i've met and interviewed president assad — originally a mild—mannered ophthalmologist from a london hospital, before he took on the role of middle eastern despot. syria has been wrecked as a result of the fighting there. i spoke to the bbc correspondent lina sinjab, who's based in beirut but covers syria and is syrian herself. people say when the bombs were falling, life was better, things were better — simply because, yes, people were scared of the bombing, of death, but they were still able to run their errands. they were still able to find food. there was some sort of, you know, power, electricity, diesel, because there was the war money coming in and out of the country. but now that drained and the economy collapsed
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and it showed that there's nothing left in the country. people lying under the poverty line is like reaching 90% of the population, and that's the population who stayed in syria and weren't displaced or were forced to leave the country. you can see in the streets that people are digging in the garbage to get some food. that's something unheard of in syria before — a country that's been rich with food and agriculture and fruits and vegetables that people could afford to live, that's not the case. in terms of the overall picture of syria and what's happened there, the russians have helped syria, the syrian government, to defeat any attempt to overthrow it. in fact, john, that's the mood among the leadership in damascus, you know, bashar al—assad and his followers, is that we won. we deserve everything that we can control. but he won over a wreckage of a country and what they're doing now, because there isn't much money left in the country and they want that, they just
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are extracting any penny that anyone can have. even loyalists to assad in the last year left, many industrialists closed business and moved to egypt. it's more and more draining in the country and leaving the poor, the helpless, even poorer and more helpless. now, you go to syria quite a lot. what's your impression about the support that the assad regime actually has? you get the sense that everyone is so angry. even among the loyalists, especially because they feel they fought this war for him, they stood by him all this all these years and they've got nothing. at the end, it's only a small elite of people who are the warlords who got the benefits and were paid back for standing with assad. is there any alternative to assad at the moment? one of the issues that makes people feel that this is the worst time they've ever seen is because they've lost hope in any change.
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but it can't continue like this. it can't continue with one man ruling, one family ruling for ever and ever. one day something should change and i'm sure there are plenty of capable syrians who are able to put the country together. and is president assad in control? it's hard to tell because it's not only one power in syria, there are so many powers. there are so many militias ruling. militias — some are controlled by him, some are controlled by iranians, others controlled by the russians. you have the kurds in the north, you have the americans, you have the turks. so, he doesn't have control over all syria. in fact, many would argue that syria, as we knew in 2011, as one country, will never be back the same again. it's already de facto divided. you're syrian... damascene. damascus... do you think it'll ever get back — ten years, 20 years, 30 years?
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you know, john, if i give up on the hope that that day will happen, i'll probably be dead, you know, emotionally and spiritually. i think that's what keeps us all going — the dream of one day going back home. hard times politically for france's president, emmanuel macron. young, highly intelligent and ambitious, who built up his own political movement and captured the presidency five years ago and has occupied it with much grandeur. many french people would say arrogance. in the late 1940s and �*50s, under the fourth republic, france was famous for its political instability. general de gaulle changed all that when he founded the fifth republic, which created a far stronger presidency. but after the recent election, is the old weakness creeping
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back into french politics? i asked lucy williamson, the bbc�*s paris correspondent, for her views. he is in a tough spot. he's tasked his prime minister with putting together what he calls a "government of action", to try and sound out whether there are any other groups in parliament who might be prepared to come in with the government and to present him with a series of proposals. but he's also spoken to the nation last week in a brief speech, and in true macron form, tried to present it as an opportunity. he was trying to say, look, you know, we need to learn to govern in a different way and pass laws in a different way and use a sort of ad hoc system of alliances — bill by bill, law by law. and he very cleverly, i think, tried to also spread responsibility around the parliament. he's saying to the other parties, look, you may not want to come into a coalition. it may not be the right time for a national unity government, but each group in parliament, each party
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has to work out how far they're prepared to go. and, i mean, it's a real recipe for weakness, isn't it? yes, it's going to be very difficult in his second term. his first term wasn't a walk in the park either. he hasn't managed to do everything he wanted to do in his first term either. a lot of that has got kicked over into the second term, including a lot of this reform around retirement. he wants to raise the retirement age. he wants to reform the pension system, and that's very controversial. he's still got to do that, except now he's got to do it without a majority in parliament against these very big expanded opposition groups on either side of the house — the far—right party of marine le pen, and this this hard left coalition of jean—luc melenchon. and who, apart from macron, apart from his prime minister, who'll be the dominant figure in french politics over the next few months, do you think? i thinkjean—luc melenchon is going to play a really big role. more than one of the government
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supporters have said, look, you know, his party used to have 17 seats, won seven seats in the national assembly. and look how much trouble they caused then. now they've got 140 or so — imagine what they're going to do with that. a lot of it depends on how far this new alliance that he's created, with the communists, the socialists, the greens and his own party, how far that alliance can stick together. if mr macron and his government needs the support of those opposition parties for their bills, for their laws, what sort of demands are going to be made in return? how much compromise is the government going to have to make? it's kind of a return to the old weak kind of governments of the 1950s and so on, isn't it? it is a difficult situation and parliament does have a lot more power. and some people i've spoken to, quite a lot of people, actually, say they think this is no bad thing. it's no bad thing for macron himself, as an individual, to have to negotiate more
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and compromise more and listen more. and it's no bad thing to have a bit more power for parliament. and all this is happening in a context where abstention rates are going up and up all the time in france, there's a real disillusion with party politics. what about this supposed new relationship between boris johnson and president macron? is there anything in that or is thatjust the kind of things that leaders say at big summits? i do think it would be surprising, perhaps, if they were in public quite as open about their disagreements in regards to ukraine as they have been over migrants across the channel, for example. so, yeah, i think we'll have to wait and see whether that's going to transfer into any other areas. i think the acid test will be whether they can show the same kind of public cooperation over other diplomatic issues between
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between britain and france. later this year, in defiance of climate and the usual pattern of the football season, the world cup finals will be held in qatar. building the stadia in the desert heat has been an amazing achievement, but hugely costly in terms of human life. the bbc has produced a series about people living and working in high temperatures, including one episode about qatar. the producer is cecilia golding. our approach was to focus on the kind of human face and show a detailed case study to say, if you look behind the headlines, of the thousands of deaths that you'll see in the headlines, let'sjust zone in on one family's experience, one bereaved family who sent their beloved son, husband, father to the gulf,
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where he died of heart failure at the age of 31. my age. under what circumstances? well, the man that we focused on in the film, his name was dhan bahadu maiga. he was from a poor, remote region of nepal without manyjob prospects, so travelled to qatar for work. first saudi, and then qatar. and he was fitting aluminium frames for high—rise buildings. and his wife, who we spoke to in nepal, told us that when she would facetime him, his nose would bleed from the heat. he was getting intense stomach cramps. on the night he died, he was eating a lot of cold food, it had been over a0 degrees in the week prior to his death. and i've spoken to a good number of doctors about the circumstances of his death now, and they've told us that anyone who's working in that kind of temperature has a high likelihood of sudden death.
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and the issue is that what we're saying is that qatar is underreporting the numbers of heat deaths. on his death certificate, it says cardiac arrest, whereas we're saying that it's not cardiac arrest — it's cardiac arrest because of heat stroke, because of heat exposure. and the death certificates in qatar rarely give you the underlying or contributory causes of death. and that's really important because it means that employers and governments are able to say, "oh, that personjust had a heart attack." like, "what a shame. what can we do though?" whereas actually, if they said they had a heart attack because of heat exposure, then they would be liable to pay compensation. so, we're talking about temperatures of what, about from 45 to 52? yeah, upwards. yeah, i mean, temperatures in the gulf are regularly hitting 50 degrees. we know that climate change is nonlinear.
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so, while we might be enjoying a kind of warmer weekend in london, places that are already extremely hot are getting much, much, much hotter. and what's your understanding about how the human body can respond to that? the human body is not evolved to survive at 50 celsius, we can't adapt as quickly as the climate is changing. so you can't do manual labour in 50 celsius, and if you do, you have a high likelihood of sudden death. i imagine you won't be switching the television on to watch the matches. it's not for me to say if other people should watch it or not, but i do encourage people to ask themselves how many deaths is too many deaths for a football tournament? sport is changing — and big money is making it happen. the liv golf tour, with saudi money behind it, is trying to compete with the well—established pga tour.
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and it's doing it by offering unthinkably large amounts of cash to leading players to lure them away to liv. newcastle united football club was taken over last year by a group including the public investment fund of saudi arabia, whose ultimate boss is mohammed bin salman, the controversial crown prince. and a lot of this seems to be coming from him personally. sportswashing is the expression that's now widely used for this kind of thing. but is it fair? i talked about the phenomenon to dan rowan, the bbc sports editor. what we've seen in recent years is these countries increasingly invest in sport, both in terms of hosting competition, but also actually buying up clubs or investing in sports overseas as a means of legitimising and normalising that country in the eyes of the western world.
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does it work? well, many would argue that it does. so, for example, in the case of saudi arabia's acquisition of newcastle united, you'll now find that many fans of that club appear on social media to be incredibly loyal to their saudi arabian owners. there is a counterargument. i've spoken to the saudi arabian regime and asked them whether or not the motive is sportswashing, and they insist that it's about a lot more than that. they deny that that is the reason, they believe it's about diversifying their economy in the future, looking decades in advance, trying to wean their economy off a reliance on oil revenues, promoting tourism in the country, helping to inspire greater participation among a youthful population. but it isn't working at the moment, is it? because i've never seen so much attention paid, for instance, to the whole business of migrant labour in qatar. it's interesting question. but did they anticipate it?
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perhaps not. after all, the kind of scrutiny that they've been subject to ever since they won the right to host the world cup 12 years ago... which itself was quite dodgy, wasn't it? surrounded by huge suspicion of corruption, always denied by qatar. but that was the suggestion — that they had effectively bought the right to host the world cup because of the corruption that clearly took place in fifa. as i say, that's always been denied, but that suspicion lingers. but on top of that, you've had controversy surrounding the human cost of staging that event as well. let's look at something else. another example of it is the golf question. it looks as though the saudis in particular are actually undermining the whole nature of the international golfing game, oram i being too kind of extreme? i don't think that's too dramatic. i mean, we've seen sports in the past try and reinvent themselves with new formats, try and challenge the status quo, the established order, with new ideas to innovate
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and reach perhaps new audiences. one need only think back to the attempted super league breakaway in european football last year, which obviously failed in the end. but i can't really recall something like this, where a country is effectively attempting to buy a sport, in effect. i mean, this threatens to tear golf apart. yes, we've had innovations in cricket, for example, with the hundred, which are controversial because it challenges the traditions of the sport. it's similar with the liv golf series. it's a different format, it's shorter, it's condensed to make it more appetising and appealing for younger audiences, perhaps. but what it also involves is huge amounts of money, designed to lure the top names away from the established tours in both the states and in europe, and to sign up to this new idea. and with that has come an incredible amount of of disagreement and recriminations, and it could of disagreement and recriminations, and it
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could end up in the courts as well, because we're now seeing players being effectively banned and fined for signing up, for defecting, for breaking their contracts, and players now considering appealing against those decisions, and it could end up in legal action. remind me about the grotesque amounts of money that are being shelled out to the players. well, the likes of, for example, superstar player phil mickelson, $200 million he is reported to be earning. he's not confirmed that, but he hasn't denied it when we put that to him some weeks ago, at the first of these golf tournaments. another american player, the highest ranked golfer to sign up to date, john, dustinjohnson, rumoured to be earning around to £120 million for his participation. but for those big stars, it does rather raise the question like, why are you risking your legacy? but i guess, once again, it shows that saudi arabia's investors — and this
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is being done through the country's sovereign wealth fund, the same organisation that bought newcastle united — they believe that this can become the big thing in golf, the number one tour. so, when you put this sportswashing allegation to them, they say, "no, that's underestimating our motive. this is a good business investment. we believe it makes sense." but that remains to be seen. dan roan, the bbc�*s sports editor. there was a time when people used to say that politics should be kept out of sport, but we've all long since passed that point. international sport is often just another area of politics, and as the world becomes a scarier, more threatening place, so sport seems to get drawn in to the atmosphere of conflict and stress. but of course, it's not sport itself that's to blame. far from it. the problem lies in the ways it's manipulated by big interests for political or other purposes.
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well, that's it from the unspun world team for this week. i hope to welcome you to the programme again soon. goodbye. hello there. part two of the weekend is looking fairly unsettled as well. we'll have more showers around, some of them could turn out to be quite heavy in places, maybe some rumbles of thunder. the winds light in the south, quite breezy across northern areas, and it's because we've got low pressure to the north of the uk, high pressure towards the south and a couple of weak weather fronts crossing the country. these will enhance the shower activity. now, one such front will be lying across central parts of the uk through the morning, so it'll be rather cloudy here with some showery rain, some sunshine across the south, showers. quite breezy across scotland and northern ireland. but into the afternoon, all areas will see
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sunshine and showers — some of them could be heavy across some central and eastern areas. it could turn a bit drier towards western areas later in the day. top temperatures 21—22 degrees in the south and east, generally the mid—teens further north. there could be a passing shower at wimbledon, but i think the emphasis will be on drier and sunnier weather with light winds and a top temperature of around 22 degrees. now, through sunday night, it looks like the showers will fade away. lengthy clear skies again across england and wales. scotland and northern ireland will stay breezy with showers or longer spells of rain, and temperatures will range from around 9—12 celsius across the uk. so, monday, we start off with some sunshine across southern and eastern areas — a few showers developing here into the afternoon. most of the showers will be across the north and west of the country, leaving some longer spells of rain at times, for the north and west of scotland. temperatures again, the mid—teens in the north. we could see 22 or even 23 degrees across southeast england. this area of high pressure want to continue to build
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into the southwest, but around the top of it, it will feed and a lot of cloud to northern and western parts of the country. some cloud getting down into the south and east as well — maybe just one or two showers here, and top temperatures around 17—22 celsius. as we move deeper into the week, it looks like this area of high pressure will continue to influence our weather, pushing these weather fronts away, but it'll always be cloudier with the chance of some showers and stronger breeze across the north and the west of the uk for the rest of the week. you can see the cloudier sky across scotland and northern ireland. further south you are, a better chance of staying dry and it should start to turn warmer, perhaps reaching 26 degrees on friday.
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this is bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories — in eastern ukraine, further fighting for control of lysycha nsk. the ukrainian army rejects russia's claims they've encircled the city. russian state media says two more british men, captured by russian forces in ukraine, have been charged with being mercenaries. warnings of further disruption this summer at heathrow, for travellers passing through the uk's busiest airport. and the biggest ever london pride — more than a million people take to the streets for the annual event.

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