Ukraine crisis: BBC reporter John Sweeney doorsteps Vladimir Putin over killings


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The Independent Online

A senior BBC journalist has doorstepped Russian President, Vladimir Putin, asking him whether he “regrets the killings in Ukraine”.

Footage of John Sweeney, an investigative reporter on the BBC’s Panorama, interrupting the President emerged today  amid rising international tensions over Russia’s military “incursions” inside Ukraine.

The journalist was filmed approaching Mr Putin in an undisclosed location on Russian television. He said: “I’d like to ask you a question about the war, sir. I’m sorry, sir, the killings in the Ukraine, thousands of dead, Ukrainians, Russian, Malaysians, British, Dutch… Do you regret the killings in Ukraine?”

Mr Putin, who has held power in Russia most of the last 20 years, stopped and agreed to answer the question through a translator.


He repeated his view that the pro-Western Ukrainian government in Kiev had to engage in “political negotiations” with people in the eastern part of the country who are said to be keen to integrate with neighbouring Russia.

Mr Putin spoke in Russian but interrupted his translator several times to correct the English. He also accused the Ukrainian army of encircling “big cities” and “citizen villages” in rebel areas, before “shelling houses with direct aim”. He claimed Ukrainian attacks on rebels in the east of the country were being ignored by Western media.

The veteran journalist, who has taken redundancy and is due to leave the BBC, has a reputation for sailing close to the wind.

The BBC was forced to apologise earlier this year for a Panorama investigation where Sweeney used the cover of a London School of Economics’ student trip to smuggle himself into  North Korea.