10/02/2012 Newswatch


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hour, now it is time for Newswatch. Welcome to Putin, Russia And The


West. Later in the programme, has BBC Two's series about Russia and


the West been too favourable to Vladimir Putin? If you're not


interested in football, this may not have been the best week to


watch the news. Wednesday saw the acquittal of Harry Redknapp on


charges of tax evasion. This led to the news channel abandoning its


coverage of Prime Minister's Questions, much to the annoyance of


Worse was to follow in the eyes of many viewers with the resignation


that evening of England football There was more sporting controversy


after Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, was told by the BBC


that he was not welcome to appear on the panel discussing Saturday's


rugby international between Scotland and England. Given the


nature, it said, of political debate around Scotland's future and


the proximity of local government elections, it would be


inappropriate to give undue prominence to any single political


leader. Mr Salmond insisted he just wanted to talk about the rugby and


later compared the man who made the decision, the BBC's chief political


adviser, with a Nazi official. One Meanwhile, another apparent BBC tic


that hit the news with reports that BBC journalists have been told a


meeting not to describe the cleric Well, in a statement, the BBC said,


it is not uncommon for us to discuss how we cover stories


impartially, and we think very carefully about the language we use.


The notes are a reflection of a live editorial discussion about how


to report a story. There will be plenty of attention


in Russia over the next month or so, in the build-up to the presidential


election. The man everyone assumes will win the election, Vladimir


Putin, has been the subject of a documentary series shown on BBC Two


over the past four weeks from the award-winning makers of the Death


of Yugoslavia and other acclaimed series. Putin, Russia And The West


has garnered good reviews, too, but What I was very upset by was that


the film only concentrated on showing on the Russian side, people


from the Kremlin and people from their propaganda unit. There were


no ordinary people, no journalists, no critics of the regime. Basically,


the film was made within the framework of Russian official


propaganda. They a few days after they wandered through the Kremlin,


Russian soldiers in Chechnya carried out a routine raid on a


village. Although Russia's involvement in


Chechnya does feature, some observers feel it is not addressed


sufficiently. Eight years later, this young man's remains were dug


up at a Russian base. They had been shot twice in their head. For more


than a decade, Russia has been bombing and shelling its own


civilians in Chechnya. Western leaders have tried as hard as they


could to ignore this war, and unfortunately the film does the


same. It glosses over the worst atrocities committed by the Russian


army. Once you from the series was the admission by Jonathan Powell


that the UK had used surveillance equipment hidden in a fake rock in


a Moscow street to spy on Russia. It was embarrassing, they had us


bang to rights. Clearly they had known about it for some time and


had been saving it for a political purpose. The claim was first made


on a programme on Russian television which link the rock with


allegations that British security services were making covert


payments to human rights groups in Russia. Baldly ruction -- all the


Russian channels were saying, Britain has admitted they were


spying, and it basically proved that everything that was set in the


propaganda film was right. That is how the FSB to it. It provoked a


new wave of attacks on human rights activists. He spent many years in


the KGB... The consultants are the series was former BBC Moscow


correspondent and author Angus Roxburgh. -- the consultant on the


series. Another recent job of his has caused concern. Angus Roxburgh


was employed by an American PR firm which received at one stage from


the Kremlin about $1 million per month for the same purpose, to


improve the image are pressure in the West. Now, I think that taking


on board a man who had been taking money from the Kremlin basically


colours the narrative of the film. So did Putin, Russia And The West


paint too favourable a picture of Russia's past and probable future


President? And joined now by the programme makers, series producer


Norma Percy and series director Paul Mitchell. You clearly referred


to Chechnya in this series, but critics say not enough, not enough


impact. I just do not think that is true. There Park, in the first


programme alone, three distinct sequences which deal with Chechnya.


-- there are. The old expression, one million deaths is a statistic,


one death is a tragedy. And I believe, and I think on the


evidence of how people have reacted to the film, that the fact that we


show one person being trapped away to his death by Russian soldiers


after what we call a routine raid, making the point that this sort of


thing happened all the time, I think it has enormous impact.


spy rock, you got a bit of a scoop, it really existed, at least


according to the former British chief-of-staff. But Russian


television initially linked it with Western payments to human rights


groups, and they have used it apparently, Russian television has


used this as almost propaganda, and you did not apparently set the rot


into the context. I think it is surprising to say that we did not


put it in context. Jonathan Powell's point was that the


Russians knew about the spy rock for a long time and was saving it


up for a political purpose. Putin wanted to bring in a tough law


against NGOs, and he tried to make the discovery of the spy rock prove


that the British were clandestinely... Now they are


actually using that film, does that concern you? Sorry, but the film


went on to say that it had nothing to do with NGOs. The interview with


Jonathan Powell was recorded something like one year ago. It was


recorded at a time when politics in Russia had essentially gone dormant.


The NGOs barely played any real role. Unfortunately, they had been


cut out. In a last few months, suddenly Russia has got incredibly


interesting, the NGOs have become interesting, and the people who


have been saying, you should not have included that, I do not


understand what they are asking for. Should we have censored our


material? We knew this fact, an interesting fact, should we have


not broadcast it? We cannot control what Putin does. Isn't it


unfortunate that you were being advised by someone who has been


involved a PR exercise for a number of years to improve the reputation


of the Kremlin? Angus was a Sunday Times correspondent who was


expelled out of Russia during Soviet times in one of the spy


scandals. He was a BBC correspondent. He did his job for


an American PR company, and like a lot of people who worked for the


Kremlin, he got disillusioned and let, and that is when we picked him


up to work on a series. Did he have any editorial control on your film?


The way we did the series, the series consultant, he helps with


research, helps with the farming, but when we go to edit the


programmes, he goes off and write the book and we make the programmes.


All the time we were making the programmes, he was away writing the


book. No links to the editing. was not physically possible. But we


do this for the time. I mean, you cannot get access to top government


officials by turning up and saying, look at me, I am making a good and


objective programme. You have to find somebody who understands what


you do and distrusted by the Kremlin's. In the programmes, are


they biased? Are they saying that Vladimir Putin was some sort of


hero? That we were all wrong about him? They do not say that. Critics


say that there is not enough representation of the opposition to


Putin. What we do is try to get right inside to show the view of


what it is like pins and the room, in the really big political


decisions. -- what it is like inside the room. We do not


interview pundits, we cannot interview journalists. We only


interview people who were inside the room taking the decision. Those


people tend to the presidents, prime ministers, their top aides.


You clearly got extraordinary access, particularly to senior


people in the Kremlin. To what extent did you have to make


compromises to get that? compromises at all. We used the


same method we have been using with governments for 30 years. What we


do is we say we are going to produce a truly multi- sided


account. We ask you what happened, we ask the Americans what happened,


and we put it together. What we do is try to present the evidence and


let the viewer make up their own mind. Thank you very much indeed.


And thank you for your comments this week. If you want to share


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