Russia: Rejecting The West?


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Russia: Rejecting The West?

From the conflict in Ukraine to accusations of hacking and then sanctions, relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated dramatically under Vladimir Putin.


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through southern Russia, the Urals

and Siberia to explore how deep

0:00:000:00:04

Russia's rejection of the West now

runs.

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Under Vladimir Putin, a tragic

feeling has surged. To many

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Russians, he is the strong man who

stood up to the West.

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This country once embraced

Western-style freedoms and

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democracy. Now there is increasing

talk of Russian values and a Russian

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ways. Here in the frozen heart of

Siberia, it feels an extremely long

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way from Europe in every sense. But

politics aside, in some ways, west

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and east now feel more similar than

ever.

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As Vladimir Putin stands for a

fourth term as president, I have

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been travelling around the country

to see how deep Russia's rejection

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of the West now runs.

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It stands as silent testimony to a

brutal past. A time of paranoia and

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total Power. This is the only part

of Stalin's do about survived. But

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this was a prison camp -- Gulag that

survived. This was a prison camp

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into the 1980s, where Serbia Russia

sent its political opponents. Now

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there is a fight for its history,

with those who dig too deep branded

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enemy agents of the West. -- Soviet

Russia. This man found at the Museum

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over 20 years ago, recovering the

stories of those held prisoner. But

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Perm 36 has now been taken over by

the authorities. Victor's

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organisation was labelled a foreign

agent. He says the focus of the

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museum then started to shift.

TRANSLATION: Before there was you

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public interest in the history of

the Gulag. Now that interest has

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died and the dominant idea now is

that the Gulag was necessary for the

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country and the economy and for

discipline and order.

The physical

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reminders have been preserved, but

staff admit there were moves here

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that seemed to justify all this,

even a plan to add the memoirs of

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prison guards.

Dress? Russia is

trying to build a more powerful

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state, so perhaps there is a policy

dictated from above that says we

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don't need to remember all the bad

things, let's just remember the good

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things.

These days Russia sees

threats to its power in unlikely

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places. This place here is the only

gay club in Perm, and we have been

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invited to meet the local drag queen

who is performing. Every weekend,

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Ruslan is transformed. A factory

worker by day, I night he becomes

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whoever he wants. The painstaking

makeover takes several hours. The

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crowd in this basement club are out

and proud, but beyond these walls

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many conceal their sexuality. Ruslan

accepts his double life as a Russian

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reality. Gay pride has become a slur

here, gay rights seen as a concept

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imposed by the West.

TRANSLATION: If

gay people are and not forced to

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talk about it openly or are out in

company -- out in public, we are

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fine. Russia's borders are open. If

you want to hold hands with your

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boyfriend in the street and kiss and

have everyone clapped, then go for

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it. Buy a ticket and travel.

But at

Perm's only LGBT support group, they

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are too nervous to even put a sign

on the door. Under Vladimir Putin it

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has become a crime to promote

homosexuality to the young, and

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police have raided this group twice

to check out their activity. When we

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came they were discussing famous gay

figures from history. On other days,

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Masha provides counselling and

support. We met up again at the flat

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she and Nadia share with their pets.

Masha does not mention her sexuality

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at work. A child psychologist, she

is worried he would be accused of

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gay and the gander. Nadia tells me

everyone has heard of the new law

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and it has made the climate here

much worse. -- a propaganda.

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TRANSLATION: They found an enemy and

that is it. There are a lot of

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problems here but if you can blame

the gaze for everything there is

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money to sort anything else out. It

has always been the way in Russia.

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-- big

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in some corners, Russia looks

increasingly conservative.

Like

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many, Igor discovered religion when

the atheist Soviet Union fell apart.

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Deep in the countryside he and his

family live what they now call a

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traditional life. The couple say

they are children of perestroika.

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But along with new freedoms, Igor

says the 1990s wrought a cascade of

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corrupting influences from the rest

and he -- from the West and he

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regrets that.

TRANSLATION:

Unfortunately society is moving away

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from Christian values. This is

happening slowly but surely. There

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is a rejection of traditional family

relationships and fewer people are

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having children. But we are

resisting this.

The local church

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became a cheese factory in soppy at

times. It is now open to worship

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again. -- Soviet times. And Igor

says the congregation has been

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growing, partly through bigger

families. So they are collecting

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funds to restore the rest of the

building, one small piece in Russia

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a snack orthodox revival. --

Russia's orthodox revival. Far away

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in Rostov, we found Cossacks riding

into battle, or at least a

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constructive one. They are another

force now enjoying a revival. The

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Cossacks see themselves as born

warriors. Defenders of Russia's

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borders the centuries. These days

their brand of patriotism is on the

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rise. This battle of the civil war

is now being replayed. The Cossacks

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taking on the red Army. It is part

of the historical re-enactment, but

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it also about patriotic action here.

Many of these people are young

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student at Cossack schools. Vitaly

is a tutor, and is playing a key

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person in the battle.

Cossacks want

to serve their country and their

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land, I think this is important, too

raise our children as defenders.

The

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boy said they want to become offices

in the Russian army one day, they

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said loving their country is the

most important thing. So what do

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they make of the hostility now

between Russia and the West?

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TRANSLATION: I had never thought

about it. To me what happens in my

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own country is more important.

And

what about all the new Cold War

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talk?

TRANSLATION: We don't really

have any negative thoughts about the

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West.

But when conflicts came to

eastern Ukraine, other Cossacks were

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among those who joined the fight.

For them it was about protecting

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fellow Russian speakers, and land

that many here treat as their own.

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The border is just a short drive

away. We can't take a camera any

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further down here, but this is a

road that leads directly to eastern

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Ukraine, where officially there is a

ceasefire now. But in actuality are

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fighting still goes on almost every

day. And it is from here that Russia

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has been supporting and supplying

that conflict right from the very

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start. Russians who died fighting in

Ukraine are remembered here as

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heroes. The Kremlin still denies

sending serving soldiers, despite

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the evidence. But the war was a

breaking point in relations with the

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West. I tried asking a passing woman

about the conflict. She agreed many

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locals did go to Ukraine, but I

don't want to talk, she said,

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especially to the BBC. Alexandr,

though, did agree to meet. He went

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to fight in Ukraine himself and

helped many other volunteers are. He

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insists there was a coup in Kiev,

backed by the West. View is that

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sound radical are now mainstream

here.

Dress? Volunteer fighters felt

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they had to take part in the war,

because if they didn't then there

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towns would be next. Ukraine is just

the beginning. We know how things

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will progress. We remember Iraq and

Afghanistan. It is the West that

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wants to divide up our country.

It

is chilling talk, at the signals

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come from the very top. Since

flooding and Putin was last

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collected six years ago, Russia has

been painting the West as an enemy.

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A force that won the Cold War and

then rubbed Russia's face in it. Now

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Moscow is pushing back. And yet all

of this is happening when Russia

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looks more western than ever even

here a long way from the capital.

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Foreign brands and tastes are now

part of life, even as politics drive

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east and west apart. That growing

gulf worries some here. Maria is the

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creative force behind this business,

one of a cluster of fashionable new

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places in Rostov. She is full of

energy and optimism about her brand,

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with plans to expand sales to the

West. She is deeply pessimistic

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about the politics of Vladimir

Putin. And how his message is pushed

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by Russia's powerful state-run

media.

TRANSLATION: Instead of

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talking about problems we have

inside the country, they talk about

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how we are surrounded by enemies who

all want the West -- worse for us.

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It is really scary because it leaves

everything out, and then people

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think you need to push back.

Otherwise we will be overrun and

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destroyed.

Maria tells me the

hostility could be reversed, though,

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and quickly, if the message changed.

In the meantime, this is her latest,

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the bar she opened recently across

the road. She and her friends don't

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see the West as an enemy. To them it

is somewhere to trade with and

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travel to. For Maria, it is also

representing the democratic values

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she thinks Russia has lost.

To flesh

we are Europeans, we have a European

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mentality. We are also Russians but

in Europe. I like to think that

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Russians share European values

somewhere inside themselves.

Today's

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Russia though is steering a path

away from Europe. With no sign it

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plans to turn back.

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As Russia's relations with the West

have entered a deep freeze, the

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climate at home has changed too. The

1990s brought a burst of new

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freedoms, a move towards

Western-style democracy. But slowly,

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controls have been reimposed. Our

journey to explore that broadcast

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next to Siberia and to TV2. Three

years ago Patel was forced to stop

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broadcasting. Since we have been

here the cat has even been removed.

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TV2 want to buy this entire

building. Since the channel has been

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taken on air, there is just a

handful of people working here, so

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we have come along to see what the

newsroom is like these days.

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This place was

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This place was Viktor's light for a

20 years. Now this independent TV

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Channel is just a lot of expensive

equipment gathering gust.

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Officially, TV2 was shut down over a

licence dispute. But Viktor does not

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buy that. The channel's reports are

annoyed officials in Tomsk. The team

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found that was their job. But

reining in the free press was one of

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Vladimir Putin's first moves as

president. TV2 was one of the last

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survivors.

TRANSLATION:

Is obvious that we were

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no threat here in Tomsk. But the

authorities are constantly afraid of

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revolution or losing control. They

want to control everything, but that

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is impossible. And they don't trust

anyone.

Back home, Viktor and his

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wife showed me how other media have

been tamed. When there were protests

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against closing TV2, Tomsk says

state-run channels ignore them.

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TRANSLATION:

That is you how free

they are. If there is an order not

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to show something, they won't.

Most

disturbing for this couple is how

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quickly the new reality has been

accepted. Here in the frozen heart

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of Siberia, it feels an extremely

long way from Europe in every sense.

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But politically speaking, Tomsk was

a relatively liberal city in Russian

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terms for many years. But all of

that has been changing. On the

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streets, though, nobody seemed too

bothered by that. -- seems.

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TRANSLATION:

TV2 has a right to

exist, of course, but I am a

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supporter of Vladimir Putin. I will

vote for him.

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TRANSLATION:

I am for Vladimir

Putin. Everyone is happy with them.

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Why do we need anyone else. There is

no wars. He managed to agree with

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everyone. He does everything right.

I like at all.

Those are close to

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the President, life can be tough.

Last year, Xenia's car was covered

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in paint and the tyres slashed. Men

entered the building in the dead of

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night and sealed up her flat. Taking

me back to the scene, Xenia is sure

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that she was targeted as an activist

for Alexey Nizami. Mr Fitton

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greatest critic has been barred from

running for office. -- Mr Putin. But

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she think it was a warning.

TRANSLATION:

It was clearly to

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frighten us and to put other

supporters off, so that others think

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twice before going to a rally for

Alexei Navalny, if this is how it

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can end.

Undeterred, Xenia still

runs a Alexei Navalny's offers here

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in Tomsk. She was eight when

Vladimir Putin came to power. Now

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26, she thinks it is well past time

for a change. So her team are

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helping train monitors for the

election will stop Xenia calls it a

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fake vote in any case, and as

Vladimir Putin's last term brought

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war and sanctions, she is worried

what the next might hold.

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TRANSLATION:

I want Russia to

continue as part of Western

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civilisation, and not closed off

behind a wall. Yes, we want to be

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seen as equals. We want to protect

our interests, but we do not want to

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be seen as North Korea. We don't

want to be isolated.

That seems to

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be the direction the country is

heading in, though. We travelled

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north to St Petersburg to

investigate claims that Russia's

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information war is now targeting the

West, too. From here, the Kremlin

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has been accused of using the

Internet to manipulate opinion at

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home and abroad. And this building

has become notorious as Russia's

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troll factory. It is mostly empty

now. The signs as it is up for rent.

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But an investigation in the United

States -based Mustafi at operated as

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an online army designed to sow

discord in America. Ludmila shows me

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a fake character she helped to

create. She took information and

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leaked it from inside the troll

factory. Her own focus was on

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Russian content, but she says that

they worked in shifts posting up to

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80 times a day.

TRANSLATION:

I would say thousands

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of posts appearing on every news

story, right before my eyes. If a

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troll spoke about America or

Ukraine, it had to be negative. If

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it was Putin's or Russia's military,

it was positive. They got written

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instructions of what to present and

the conclusion is that people should

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draw.

Ludmila thinks that very few

trolls are driven by patriotism. She

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tells me it is about the money, and,

if a new boss instructed them to

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criticise Putin, they would. And it

seems the trolls are still

0:19:460:19:50

operating. We have been told that

the troll factory has mooted this

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premises. I am coming to see if any

of these people in the smoking

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shelter opposite work there and what

they can tell me. The man tells me

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he has seen here and he does not

like what they do. Inside, I managed

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to speak to the director of one firm

named in the US indictment, but he

0:20:140:20:18

would not comment on camera its

work. 2000 kilometres away Perm as

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weathered all the twists and turns

since the soviet Union fell apart.

0:20:340:20:41

It was the home to Soviet factories

for decades and closed to

0:20:410:20:44

foreigners. Then a dry day

transformation. -- then it tried a

0:20:440:20:50

transformation. Perm was to become a

capital of culture not just for

0:20:500:20:54

Russia but the world. It began with

investment in public art. This giant

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structure is a reminder of the

cultural Revolution here in Perm. A

0:20:590:21:04

hugely ambitious project to open the

city to the world and rebranded

0:21:040:21:08

through art as a modern and

progressive place but that

0:21:080:21:12

experiment ended abruptly, and there

are now signs that Perm, like

0:21:120:21:17

Russia, is moving in the opposite

direction. The contemporary arts

0:21:170:21:22

Museum has survived, but its founder

and the mastermind of Perm's

0:21:220:21:28

decimation was sacked. The shows he

curated were deliberate. He said

0:21:280:21:34

there were times that Perm felt like

New York. Now there are limits to

0:21:340:21:42

what she can do here.

TRANSLATION:

The fact that the

0:21:420:21:45

museum is vulnerable makes a self

censor. The most important thing is

0:21:450:21:49

for us to maintain our institution.

We don't lower the bar and lower our

0:21:490:21:57

artistic repetition. We just lower

that average. That is the price.

In

0:21:570:22:06

Perm, as across this country, the

political tide has turned. Vladimir

0:22:060:22:12

Putin's vision now is of a Russia

that is strong and assertive,

0:22:120:22:17

rejecting the West that is hostile

and subversive being part of that.

0:22:170:22:24

On our journey, we found many

Russians who don't share that view.

0:22:240:22:28

But no one who expects change here

any time soon.

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