Dmitry Peskov HARDtalk

Dmitry Peskov

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Now on BBC News, Stephen Sackur speaks to Dmitry Peskov,


the spokesman for Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in HARDTalk.


Welcome to a special edition of HARDTalk from Moscow. According to


US intelligence chiefs the Kremlin ran a covert operation aimed to


influence the US presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.


If they did, it worked, but was it really so? What is the truth behind


the swirl of allegations and what now for Russia-US relations? Well


I'm going to the Kremlin to meet Vladimir Putin's spokesman. Is he


triumphant or caution? Dmitry Peskov welcome to HARDTalk.


Do you care that a host of Western intelligence agencies have accused


your government of sophisticated, covert operations, dirty tricks,


meddling in their internal politics, do you care? You mean cyber attacks?


Cyber attacks, not just that, but cyber attacks have been one very big


part of it. Let's talk about the United States first of all. Yes. We


have to be very precise in wording. You're speaking about Secret


Services and special services of the major states. We're speaking about


only the United States of America and some retired gentlemen who used


to work in MI6 or MI5, I don't know exactly, from Great Britain. The


rest of special services in European countries, they have never accused


Russia of interfering into somewhere they have just started to feel


uncomfortable, at the same front of allegations - That's not Strictly


True. What you've said isn't strictly true. Bruno Khal, chief of


Germany's foreign intelligence agency said this, "Cyber attacks are


taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit political


uncertainty here in Germany. The indications show the attacks come


from Russia. There is evidence that this is at least tolerated or


desired by the state. " Again, accusations that have nothing


beneath. We don't have any proof for those blamings. It is interesting


that you began by saying it's only the United States. But it's clearly


not only the United States. Well, the whole story started from the


United States. The whole hysteria is being pumped up by the United States


public opinion, United States media. It's very emotional hysteria. You


know, sometimes it is even, it comes quite ridiculous to us to watch this


hysteria. The director of national intelligence in the US says that the


evidence is there with a very high degree of certainty. Admittedly we


haven't seen the evidence because the key evidence has been redacted.


But what he says is this, "I do not think, based on the evidence, that


we have ever encountered a more aggressive, a more direct campaign


to interfere in our election process. That's at your door,


indeed, you Dmitry Peskov, have been accused of being one of the key


architects of this campaign. Well it's a great honour for me to be so


fist Kated. I'm not that sophisticated in cyber business.


This is not the truth. This is number one. Number two, every day we


have hundreds and thousands of cyber attacks against our digital systems


in the Russian Federation. Some of them are coming from the territory


of the United States. Dozens are am coulding from the territory of --


are coming from the territory of Germany, dozens coming from Great


Britain. Do you think that it means with a high state of certainty that


those attacks against our digital systems are being promoted by the


governments in Washington, in London or in Berlin? No. You would probably


say no. It's out of the question. I'm more interested in what you


think. What do you think? We think that it has nothing to do with the


governments. Although, we also have some evidence that some foreign


special services might stand behind some very, very tense attacks


against our banks and against our, well, our official websites. Are you


trying to tell me that the Russian actions in the United States, in


Germany, we believe in Britain too, according to our intelligence


agencies, are they retaliation? No. There are no actions. There are no


actions. Neither Russian government nor Kremlin nor President Putin


personally, nor military intelligence stand behind those


attacks, if they really exist. That is a very clear position you've just


taken. Now the United States Congress is going to over the next


few weeks and months conduct a very serious investigation of all these


allegations of Russian cyber hacking. They are going to use


subpoenas. We may find a lot more specific information. If it urns out


that they -- if it turns out that they have convincing evidence that


Russia, the Kremlin was involved in authorising those attacks, you are


going to be very badly exposed, aren't you? Of course. I'm carrying


responsibility for saying that. I'm not an irresponsible person and


working as a press secretary of President Putin, I work in Kremlin


and am responsible for my words. So should there be any evidence, should


there be any proof, then it will be my responsibility. It should be


either proved or it should be dismissed. How disturbed were you


when Donald Trump appeared to say, just a few days ago, that he now


believes Russia is responsible for the hacking of the DNC e-mails?


President-elect was briefed by his special services. We do not know


what exactly was presented to him during those briefings. What we had


access to was the public part of the report. You would probably have read


that. I've read the public part. As I said, we don't know what redacted


parts include. Yes, public part was quite vague. You would probably


agree with me. It was based on assumptions, not on evidence. So


let's wait and see. On the hacking, John McCain, and a bunch of


Republican, democratic senators - Great admirer of my country. Perhaps


not the greatest admirer right now. He has said and they have said that


they're going to push forward what they're calling countering Russian


hostilities act 2017. They are going to push for an expansion of


sanctions against Russia specifically targeting those they


believe responsible for the hacking. How will you respond if that


legislation, if that expansion of sanctions goes through? So, this is


quite an unprecedented act. What is being done by the going President


Obama, by renewing the sanctions against Russia, without waiting


until the period of the existing one expires, and with the new law, with


the new law coming. So they are trying to limit the capacity, to


limit the presidency of Trump. They're trying to push him into the


way of bad relationship with Moscow. They say, you don't have a


possibility to move. You don't have a possibility to choose your own


position. You will follow our way. Which brings me to the most


important question today, around the world, but particularly concerning


your relationship with the United States. Do you believe President


Donald Trump will bring with him a fundamental change, a fundamental


shift in the relationship between Washington and Moscow?


Unfortunately, we cannot believe. What we can do is we can express our


hope. We want to have good relationship with America. We


believe that we cannot solve lots of problems in this world and in our


region, that are endangering our country without cooperation with the


Americans. That's why we desperately need good relationship with


Washington. But it takes two to tango. What will be the approach by


President Trump, this is the question. We speak on the eve of the


inauguration, will you and your boss, President Putin, be popping


the champagne corks, when you watch the inauguration of President Trump?


Well, you know, we are preoccupied these days. We have our Christian


holiday called baptising, so we are preoccupied with swimming in the ice


cold water. That's why our agenda is a little bit different. Let's allow


ourselves to think what it means in greater detail. Donald Trump has


talked about his admiration for Vladimir Putin, calls him a smart


guy. But getting away from the positives, looking at perhaps a more


realistic agenda, some of his key nominees for the top posts that of


Secretary of State, Secretary of Defence, they have said clearly they


still regard Russia as the most important threat, the Defence


Secretary nominee says he still believes that Russia poses a severe


threat to Europe's security and to Nato. Listen, you cannot leave and


you cannot develop yourself as personality in one environment and


all of a sudden come to a different conclusion. You are a child of your


environment. Environment in the United States currently is very


hostile towards Russia. So we understand those statements. We do


not expect President Trump and his administration to agree with us,


even to agree with us even on the majority of problems. But we want to


believe that they will be ready to talk to us. So, we want to be able


to convey our message to Washington. We want to, we want Washington to


will, to convey their message to us by explaining why, what exactly,


how, when and with whom. If we don't know that, we feel ourself


endangered. Donald Trump prides himself as a deal maker. He's begun


to indicate there might be deals to be done. He suggested to the Times


newspaper the other day that perhaps he would consider easing sanctions


on Russia if Russia was prepared to talk seriously about reducing its


nuclear Arsenal as part of a new round of talks. Are you interested


in that sort of approach? It's a little bit different dimensions.


Sanctions is one thing. Russia will not ever initiate discussing of the


issue. On Ukraine, which is the reason why the sanctions sit there,


your position on Ukraine appears unchanging. What the West wants to


see, we don't know whether Donald Trump wants to see it, what the West


generally wants to see is you, finally, make every effort to


implement that Minsk peace agreement and stop your support for the


separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The problem is that we are not the


country who is going to, who should implement Minsk agreement. We are


the country that should guarantee the implementation, together with


the French and with the Germans. Minsk agreement should be


implemented by Kiev and Minsk agreement should be


implemented by Kiev. Mincing agreement is not something -- Minsk


agreement is not vague. We enjoy some influence, but we cannot ask


them to die. There's been a lot of talk about the possibility of a very


early summit meeting between Mr Putin and soon to be President


Trump. Is it going to happen? Well, we hope that President Putin is


going to call President Trump after the inauguration, as soon as he's


available and congratulate him. It's a protocol. So this congratulation


should be delivered. We hope it will be delivered through a telephone


call. Then we'll expect their exchange of views on a possibility


of the meeting. What kind of time frame are we talking about?


Currently we don't have any hints for the dates, unfortunately. Are we


talking weeks, months, do you think? We hope, no I don't think weeks. Of


course, I mean, he's the President of the United States and first of


all, he's preoccupied with American business. It's like all Presidents.


You ask me, what are we going to do tomorrow, during the inauguration,


we are going to be preoccupied with Russian affairs. Because they are


the issue of priority for President Putin. It's not coming weeks. But


let's hope for the best that this meeting could take place coming


month. Coming months. And to be clear about it, President Putin


would like the earliest possible meeting with Mr Trump? I have no


doubt Mr Putin will be ready for that, yes. One interesting point,


just yesterday, it was announced here in Russia that Edward Snowden


was given a couple more years of residency here. Some people say that


one way to warm up relations quickly would be for Mr Putin to, in


essence, give Edward Snowden to the incoming Trump administration as


some sort of show of goodwill. In America they want to put him on


trial. Donald Trump has made it plain that he personally believes


that Edward Snowden should be punished for the release of secret


information. Edward Snowden is a human being that can face a death


penalty in the United States, because it's one of the few


countries that still exercises death penalty. You'll never extradite him,


is that what you're saying? This is a decision that can be taken by our


immigration authorities or President Putin. I don't know. I don't know.


But he's not a toy to be presented. He's a human being. Let's talk about


Nato, as we go round the themes that are going to be presented to Trump


and Putin as they consider their relationship. Donald Trump has said


Nato is obsolete. He's also said Nato is very important to him. He


generals tell him that Russia poses a direct threat, the way that you've


massed both weaponry, material and man power or Nato's Eastern flank,


are you prepared to show, again, good faith by, for example, pulling


your missiles out? It is very complicated issue. You cannot just


withdraw with those missiles from there without knowing that plans for


creating entire Russian, entire missile system will be abolished on


the European continent. Just one final point on diplomacy, again


about dialogue, it's about Syria. It is very notable that in your


initiative with the Turks to get some sort of dialogue going between


the government and the rebels, which led to the ceasefire, the Americans


weren't involved at all. Now there are more Peace Talks scheduled for


Kazakhstan next week. Do you definitely want the Americans, under


the new Trump administration, to be involved, to be big players


alongside you and the Turks? Well, definitely we would welcome that. We


would welcome that. Situation is very complicated. You know that the,


also there is Iran, like a very important player in Syrian issue.


The Iranians say the Americans won't be there. The Iranians are not


welcoming the Americans. It's a very complicated issue for a very careful


play. You and I in previous conversations have gone into great


detail about accusations that Russia has committed human rights


violations, some say war crimes in its military activities in Syria.


One simple question on this: Since we last spoke, the UN general


Assembly has voted to establish an investigative body to collect,


consolidate and preserve, they say, evidence and prepare cases on war


crimes and human rights abuses. Will you cooperate with that UN


investigation? I have no doubt, yes. Should it be started and what will


be the composition of that. Your people at the UN were gravely


sceptical it should be started in the first place. You're saying,


we've decided we are going to fully cooperate. No, we haven't decided.


Theoretically, I say, theoretically, we would welcome those


investigations. A final thought, I want to take it away from the


international arena to the domestic arena. I just spoke to perhaps the


leading voice in opposition to President Putin in this country


today, a man who has declared he wants to run in the presidential


elections in 2018 against Putin. He said to me, you know why Putin


fights these wars, why he is projecting Russia's power in


different arenas around the world, he is trying to distract the Russian


people from what is going on inside their own country, the millions and


millions condemned to live in poverty, the systemic corruption,


which is seeing a tiny elite at the top, enriching themselves on the


back of the majority of Russians who see no growth, no prosperity. That's


what he's going to campaign on. That is going to cause you and your boss


a great deal of trouble. Well, you know, unfortunately, we have a very


weak opposition in our country. I wonder why that is. Could it be


because they're not allowed access to state television for example? No


it's not about state television. You have modern media and viewership of


television is diminishing day by day. In Russia today, if you switch


on the TV and you want to find an opposition voice it is almost


impossible. The American President is winning elections using Twitter.


In order to be a successful opposition you have to be


sustainable. You have to have a programme of development of the


country. You also have to be allowed a semblance of freedom. You have to


be a person not at risk of being assassinated as Boris Nyemtsov was.


Unlike Alexei Novalny, whose brother is in prison and he is on trumped up


charges, you need the freedom to build a political movement. You know


as well as I do, in Russia today, that's impossible. Why don't you


think that they're not fair charges? Because the European Court of Human


Rights has declared that they are political and it said that they were


ill legitimate. We don't agree with that. You don't agree with the


European Court of Human Rights when they analysed the evidence? I would


rather trust our own court. We do have much more confidence in our own


court system. Do you read Alexei Novalny's anticorruption foundation


website. Once in a while, yes. You'd have seen your own name. Yes, most


frequently. He wants to know how come a guy like you, a public


servant on a not bad, but modest salary, how come you live in a


Villa, which he's pleased to show me, which is worth, he says, $15


million and the very famous watch of yours worth ?400,000. Try to double


check that with a different real estate agent. Try to double check


that. Do you want to tell me how much your Villa is worth, I'm happy


to take your estimate? If we're here to discuss the cost of my Villa, I


hope it's quite expensive. We're almost out of time. We have to wrap


this up. Putin up for re-election in 2018, can you guarantee to me that


Alexei Novany will at least be allowed to run and challenge Putin?


I'm not head of central election committee. Tha can guarantee that or


not guarantee that. So that's why I'm not entitled to make this kind


of statements. Do you believe it would be best for Russia if an


opposition leader like him were allowed to run against Putin? I


think it would be best for Russia if we have a serious opposition with a


serious approach, with experienced professionals and politicians trying


to compete with acting power in the face of President Putin, who is


being supported by 90% of this population. I'm taking from that


last answer, that there's no question President Putin will run


for another term in 2018? You know, we t was our first interview and I


told you there was 2004, I think, or whenever... I'm not quite that old


on HARDTalk. As a citizen of the Russian Federation, I hope he will


take a decision to run. We have to end there. Dmitry Peskov, thank you


very much for being on HARDTalk. Thank you, it was my pleasure.


Hello. Cold out there isn't it? Temperatures are beginning to fall


below freezing in some places. It's been


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