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  • The United Nations Nuclear Agency says Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms. The conversion of its stock of 20 percent was part of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. VoR’s Brendan Cole leads a discussion.

  • Is Britain a nation of monoglots? The British Council, which promotes English language-learning around the world, seems to think so. Also, the CBI says that Britain lacks foreign language speakers, which "threatens the UK" economy. VoR's Brendan Cole leads a discussion.

  • Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is defined by the World Health Organisation as a painful and traumatic procedure that intentionally alters and causes injury to female genital organs. It has been recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. As the first Girl Summit kicks off in London on July 22, VoR’s Juliet Spare hosts a discussion.

     

Telling It Like It Is
  • Claims of a Westminster paedophile ring, whether parliament is sexist and Britain's relationship with the EU are among topics discussed by Brooks Newmark, the Conservative MP for Braintree and Essex and the former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov. Joining them for this week's Telling it Like It Is, is VoR's Brendan Cole.

     

  • The phone hacking verdicts, the conflict in Iraq and Luis Suarez biting a defender's shoulder and the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland are among the topics discussed in this week's programme. Joining VoR's Brendan Cole are the former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov and executive editor of Breitbart.com, James Delingpole.

  • The Queen's Speech, Theresa May as a possible successor to David Cameron, Barack Obama's prisoner swap with the Taliban and the death of the man who brought ecstasy to the masses are among the topics dealt with by James Delingpole of breitbart.com and ex-Kremlin advisor Alexander Nekrassov. Brendan Cole arbitrates.

     

Talking Points
  • The other night, I saw George Orwell’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

  • In this Talking Point, Paul Craig Roberts argues that Washington is taking advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin's reasonableness when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, and is pushing Russia to make moves that would then be used against Moscow to keep the US's European allies in line.

     

  • Another day of artillery shelling and firing missiles from fighter jets has brought new casualties among civilians in the East of Ukraine. The Russian media and social networks exploded with yet another cry of horror and disgust. But there is virtually nothing in the western press, says VoR's Dmitry Linnik.

Debating Russia
  • Gaza is again under Israeli attack. What makes this assault different from past attacks? Should we stop talking about a peace process? And what role can countries like Russia play to finally resolve this conflict? Peter Lavelle hosts the latest edition of Debating Russia.

  • Ukraine and the EU Association agreement: It is hotly debated whether Kiev’s signature on this agreement will result in a more modern and prosperous Ukraine or a country that will experience extreme economic pain and long term austerity. VoR's Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion.

  • After Petr Poroshenko won the presidential election, Ukraine continues down the path of civil war. How can the Ukrainian oligarch known as the Chocolate King change the political calculus? Peter Lavelle asks his guests in this week's Debating Russia.

     

In Conversation
  • It’s long been said that we are what we eat. For many of us in the developed world almost everything we eat comes from commercially produced animals and crops, and is bought from supermarkets. A new book lifts the lid on the dangers of mass food production both for human health and for the health of the planet. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Philip Lymbery, one of the joint authors of Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat.

  • Australian by birth, author and adventurer Tim Cope decided to train as a wilderness guide in Finland. That led to an adventure riding across Russia to China by bicycle and then to a bolder journey on horseback across Mongolia all the way east to Kazakhstan and Ukraine eventually ending up in Hungary. The journey took three years and his story is told in On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey through the Land of the Nomads. VoR’s Tim Ecott talks to Tim Cope.

  • In this edition of In Conversation, VoR's Tim Ecott talks to Christian Wolmar, Britain’s foremost writer on railways. His latest book is called To the Edge of the World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Wolmar, who has himself travelled the line, describes the building of the Trans-Siberian as possibly the greatest human engineering achievement. I asked him what it was about the railway that inspired him.

     

Curtain Up
  • Families from all over England travel down to London to see the Nutcracker ballet at Christmas. But it wasn’t always such a hit. VoR's Alice Lagnado invited Russian music expert Daniel Jaffe into the studio and began by asking him how the ballet was first greeted back in the late 19th century.

  • The ballet world is going through a difficult time in Russia, with courtroom trials and a change in management at the renowned Vaganova academy in St Petersburg. VoR’s Alice Lagnado takes a further look.

  • In this edition of Curtain Up, VoR’s Alice Lagnado talks to conductor Alice Farnham, who is bringing Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia to the Mariinsky Theatre this month. It’s her first time conducting at the Mariinsky, and it’s also the first time the opera has been performed at the theatre.

Features
  • In the summer of 1914, Europe went to war. Monday, 28 July marks 100 years since the start of World War One where Austria-Hungry declared war on Serbia. It would be the starting point of what would engulf almost the entire world.

  • The oldest pier in the UK, Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, celebrates its bicentennial today. Opened in 1814, it was the original seaside pier and paved the way for dozens of others up and down Britain, from Dunoon in Scotland to Falmouth in Cornwall.

  • Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae grew up in the world of drag car racing in Australia which gave him a lifelong love of speed and adrenalin. He challenged his energy into dance, becoming a versatile and ambitious dancer at Covent Garden, where he has performed with leading ballerinas like Alina Cojocaru, Sarah Lamb, Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova, and Iana Salenko. VoR’s Alice Lagnado caught up with Steven in between rehearsals.

Galleries
  • The unrivalled Mariinsky ballet returns to the Royal Opera House with an eagerly awaited three-week season presented by Victor Hochhauser. The season opens with the return of one of the most cherished and admired Russian ballets of the 20th century, Mikhail Lavrovsky’s celebrated realisation of Romeo and Juliet to Prokofiev’s music, created at the Mariinsky Theatre in January 1940.

  • Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British royals, today throws open the doors to its state rooms for the summer season. And this year, visitors will also be able to enjoy Royal Childhood - an exhibition with special significance as Britain's future king, George, has just turned one. Well-loved toys and treasured family gifts offer an unprecedented glimpse into life as a royal child growing up at the palace.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned 60 on July 17. Born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg, she grew up in a small town near East Berlin, where her father served as a Lutheran pastor. Merkel earned a doctorate in physics and worked as a researcher at a scientific academy in Berlin. Her political career began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. She became the first woman to lead the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the first post-reunification chancellor to hail from the former East Germany.

All programmes
  • The tragic Malaysia Airlines plane crash, student loans and the Commonwealth Games are among the topics discussed by the former Kremlin adviser and political analyst Alexander Nekrassov, and Maggie Pagano, columnist for the Independent and the Financial News.

  • Even before a proper investigation has been conducted on the downing of MH17, Washington has laid blame on Russia. But where is the evidence? Peter Lavelle hosts a discussion.

  • Since the start of the political crisis in Ukraine, the West – particularly Washington – has stated that Russia must be ‘isolated’ on the international stage. This includes economic and financial sanctions. However, has Russia, in any meaningful way, become isolated? Peter Lavelle's international guests debate the question. 

World

Fracking will be allowed in British national parks in "exceptional circumstances", according to government guidelines announced on Monday as new bidding for exploration licenses opens.

The Foreign Office have ordered over 300 Britons back from Libya amidst renewed clashes between Islamist militias in the country. A British diplomatic convoy was attacked in an attempted car-jacking on the road between Tripoli and Zawiya as they were being evacuated yesterday. Shots were fired at the vehicles but no one was injured.

David Cameron has publicly disagreed with Nick Clegg's opinion that Russia should be stripped of their right to host the 2018 World Cup. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg earlier said in an interview with the Sunday Times that it was “unthinkable” for the global football contest to take place in Russia and stripping the country of the event would be a "very potent political and symbolic sanction."

Lord Winston, the professor and eminent medical doctor has accused the British Government of wrongly defining the three-parent-baby process as not being one of “genetic modification”. He, along with other scientists, says the government is trying to put 'spin' on a controversial medical procedure.

The Mariinsky Ballet opens its three-week residency at Covent Garden on 28 July – an event that, for dance fans, is as big as the World Cup. VoR's Alice Lagnado talked to the Paris-based Financial Times ballet correspondent Laura Cappelle about her thoughts on the tour.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a press briefing in Moscow on Monday, following his Sunday phone conversation with the US Secretary of State John Kerry. Lavrov highlighted that Russia's goal is to have an unbiased investigation of the MH17 crash and "let the world know what is happening in the southeast of Ukraine", where some 1,129 people have been killed and nearly 3,500 wounded in the Kiev’s operation, according to UN estimates.