18/03/2018 BBC Weekend News


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18/03/2018

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Good afternoon.

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The Foreign Secretary,

Boris Johnson, says the Government

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has evidence Russia has been making

and stockpiling Novichok,

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the nerve agent Britain says

was used to try and kill the Russian

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spy Sergei Skripal and his

daughter in Salisbury.

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Mr Johnson accused the Russians of

"smug sarcasm" after the country's

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ambassador to the EU suggested

the nerve agent could have come

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from Britain's own Porton Down

research centre near Salisbury.

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Here's our Home Affairs

Correspondent, Daniel Sandford.

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After two weeks of delicate

investigation and decontamination

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work in Salisbury, in which police

officers and troops have had to take

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extraordinary precautions to protect

themselves, the Russian ambassador

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to the EU chose to hint that Britain

might have been responsible for the

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nerve agent attack.

Porton Down, as

we all know, is the largest military

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facility in the United Kingdom,

which has been dealing with chemical

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weapons research. And it's actually

only eight miles from Salisbury.

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You're not suggesting Porton Down is

responsible?

I don't know.

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Immediately afterwards on the same

programme, this was the Foreign

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Secretary's riposte.

This isn't the

response of a country that really

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believes itself to be innocent.

Their response has been a mixture of

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smug sarcasm and denial and

obfuscation and delay.

And he

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insisted the Russians have been

doing recent nerve agent research.

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We actually have evidence within the

last ten years but Russia has not

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only been investigating the delivery

of nerve agents for the purposes of

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assassination, but has also been

creating and stockpiling Novichok.

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That what a direct lie?

Yeah, but

you will get that.

Then the Foreign

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Secretary had to concede that the

wife of a former finance minister

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under Putin had paid £150,000 in a

Conservative Party option to play

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tennis with him.

Did the tennis game

happen?

It did.

After signs of a gap

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opening last week between Labour and

Downing Street over the attack, this

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morning the Labour position was much

closer to the government.

Putin has

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questions to answer because this

could be a state execution, but what

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we don't do in this country is we

don't leap to conclusions without

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the evidence, but we are saying to

our international partners, working

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with the chemical inspectors,

working with Porton Down, we will

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now produce the evidence that leads

us to a judgment that they can rely

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upon.

The Porton Down military

laboratory is where experts have

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spent two weeks analysing the rare

neighbourhood confused. Tomorrow,

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international specialists from the

Organisation for the Prohibition of

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Chemical Weapons will arrive to

start their own analysis of what

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left Yulia and Sergei Skripal

fighting for their lives.

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Meanwhile, voting is under way

across Russia in the country's

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election, in which President Putin

is expected to win

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a fourth term in office.

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There are several other candidates

but his main rival, Alexei Navalny,

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has been barred from taking part

after being convicted of fraud -

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a charge he says was

politically motivated.

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From Moscow, Richard Galpin reports.

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At a polling station here in Moscow,

a deliberately festive atmosphere.

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Encouraging people to vote.

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Russians have only known one leader,

Vladimir Putin, since 1999, and now

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they are casting their ballots once

again with the odds stacked

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heavily in his favour.

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With the only serious opposition

leader banned from taking

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part in this election,

there's virtually no doubt that

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Vladimir Putin will win.

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The issue is going to be the turnout

and whether it is sufficient

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to legitimise another six years

in power for Mr Putin.

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And although people have been voting

here, we soon found scepticism

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about how genuine this election is.

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TRANSLATION:

Formally

there is a real choice

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but in reality I cannot say

it is fair because I know people

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are being forced to vote,

especially those working

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in government institutions.

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The President himself voted

here in Moscow earlier today.

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The Kremlin apparently

aiming for him to get 70%

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of the vote and of the turnout.

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But when asked by journalists how

many votes would be seen as a

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success, he said any amount

allowing him to be president.

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Voters in Crimea are also taking

part in this presidential election

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for the first time since the area

was annexed from Ukraine,

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the election date moved

to today to coincide

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with the fourth anniversary.

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Another boost for Mr Putin.

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We must emphasise that Mr Putin

retains high popularity ratings

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amongst voters here, but I think

there is a question about reaching

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that 70% turnout figure, which

apparently the Kremlin wants.

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Meanwhile, there have been some

reports of electoral violations,

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with reports coming in of ballot

boxes being stuffed in one area, but

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I must stress that that is only a

small number of reports in just one

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area.

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Much of the UK has experienced

its second significant

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snowfall of the winter.

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Worst affected have been the north

and east of the country,

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and the snow is now falling in south

Wales and the south-west of England.

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Combined with sub-zero temperature

winds, it's bought delays

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and cancellations to public

transport and made for difficult

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driving conditions for many,

as Frankie McCamley reports.

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Late last night in Barnsley,

not a sight you would usually see

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in March, a truck being pulled

to safety by a car in

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treacherous conditions.

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And in Halifax, police rescued

the driver of this car,

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who escaped with minor injuries.

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On the Trans-Pennine Express,

an officer's dash cam,

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the road almost at a standstill.

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This morning as people

try to leave their homes,

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it proves to be a difficult task.

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And gritters out on the A68

in Northumberland try

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to keep things moving.

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In places on higher ground

like here in West Yorkshire,

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up to 11 centimetres of snow fell,

but the places that saw the most

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were Hereford and Wattisham

with 13 centimetres.

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Today though the south-west

of England and South Wales will be

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hardest hit, with amber weather

warnings in place until nine

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o'clock this evening.

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Elsewhere, there's been more

disruption at the airports today

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with Bristol, Bournemouth

and the East Midlands

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closing runways.

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Heathrow and Gatwick have also told

passengers to expect delays.

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Some rugby and football matches have

also had to be cancelled too.

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But for some there has been fun

to be had in what's been dubbed

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the mini beast from the east

with temperatures expected to return

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to normal by Tuesday.

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Frankie McCamley, BBC

News, in West Yorkshire.

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Britain have won their first

gold medal at the Winter

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Paralympics in South Korea.

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Menna Fitzpatrick and her guide,

Jen Kehoe, took the women's

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visually-impaired slalom crown

on the final day of the Games,

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as Kate Grey reports.

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It was the golden moment they'd been

waiting for. Menna Fitzpatrick and

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her guide, Jen Kehoe, saved their

best till last to win gold on the

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last day. They were in silver

position going into their second run

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and displayed a perfect performance.

The time was unbeatable. Their first

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medal here in Pyeongchang, to become

Britain's most successful winter

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Paralympian.

We are running on

adrenaline at the moment, because

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this first bronze was an incredible

achievement to finish that race and

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to win a medal, and to finish on a

gold medal and put in one of our

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strongest performances this week is

beyond words. It hasn't sunk in and

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I think it probably won't until we

get back to the UK and we are back

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in our own beds for a lie in.

Further successful Millie Knight and

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her guide, making the bronze in the

same race, meaning that Paralympics

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GB have reached their target of

seven medals, but all dependent on

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one spot, one classification and a

small number of athletes.

We came

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into these games with clear

potential on snow and ice. The

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wheelchair curlers a tough week, but

from my perspective I am proud of

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every single one of the 17 athletes

who came to Pyeongchang to represent

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Paralympics GB. Yes, the medals came

from snow, but every athlete gave it

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their all.

So the Brits have had

plenty to cheer about and, with more

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nations taking part than ever before

and a record number of tickets sold,

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the international Paralympic

committee can also celebrate,

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claiming these games to be the

greatest winter Paralympics to date.

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That's it from me.

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The next news on BBC

One is at 6:35pm.

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Until then, have a good afternoon.

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