The presenter of the BBC Russian Service for many years, the first Soviet DJ, author of such shows as "Rock the Seva way", "Sevaoborot" and "BBSeva", and Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Seva Novgorodsev was born 74 year ago in Leningrad to the family of a sea captain and Deputy Head of the Baltic Shipping Company Boris Levenstein. He graduated from the Leningrad Higher Naval Engineering School and combined his service in the Navy with the career of a musician. He played in the Joseph Weinstein Jazz Orchestra and led the vocal and instrumental ensemble "Dobry Molodtsy" (Fine Young Men).
In 1975, Novgorodtsev left the Soviet Union, lived in Austria and Italy, and two years later he finally moved to London. Seva Novgorodtsev’s first musical show on BBC was launched in 1977 under the title "The Program of Pop Music from London" (later renamed "Rock the Seva way") and lasted for 27 years making the author popular all through the USSR. Novgorodtsev commented on the Western music and Russian rock, and talked live with musicians and singers of all styles and schools. Since 2003, Vsevolod Borisovich has presented the daily news program "BBSeva."
In the interview to the GORDON , Seva Novgorodsev explained how the British perceive Ukraine, whether their attitude towards wealthy Russians living in London has changed, and what the main misconception of the Ukrainians who want to see their country in the European Union is.
– There are 2.7 million Muslims living in the UK. Did the attitude to them change after radical Islamists shot the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine?
– Nothing has changed. The BBC editorial staff covered the acts of terrorism in detail, they spoke with Paris. I asked the principal question from my point of view, "Are millions of people who came out after the tragedy protesting against the evil on the whole or against those who did evil?" Everyone answered, "Against the evil." No one is going to take revenge, the rage was no aimed at specific ethnic or religious groups.
The French, who came to demonstrations, explained that it was during the march with millions of people walking shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow that they felt a great nation and a great country. They behave in a civilized manner, like Europeans, defending their own principles. It did not occur to nobody in France to make a little massacre and beat Muslims. It did not happen and it cannot ever happen. The sentiments are the same in the UK. However, the British police has become even more vigilant for suspicious people who have recently returned from Syria. But the British always come to the point and settle everything according to the law.
– The dominating statements in Russia these days were that it is wrong to kill, but the French provoked the attacks themselves by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as one cannot "hurt religious feelings".
– Both France and Britain are proud of being secular countries where the church and the state are separated. In addition to Christians and Muslims, there are Buddhists, Hindus, and many others who live in Europe. That very multitude of religions does not allow talking about any particular church, which one allegedly cannot offend.
Moreover, the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo did not "insult" faith itself or holy scriptures, but people who made religion serve their own interests. The terrorists who are to blame for the attacks in Paris called themselves "Muslims". But if you talk to real Muslims who study holy scriptures for all their life, they will tell you that terrorist attacks and Islam have nothing to do with each other. In this sense, Russia does not look the best way, the notions "religion" and "patriotism" are often confused there. Faith in Jesus Christ and the Russian Orthodox Church is not the same.
– Many people in Ukraine were perplexed because the world leaders who have sharply condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris hardly noticed the tragedy in Volnovakha where DNR terrorists fired a passenger bus from Grad missiles having killed 12 civilians.
– BBC covered the events in Volnovakha on January 13; we talked a lot about this incident. But there were no independent international observers at the site of the accident who would indicate the perpetrators with absolute certainty. Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other. BBC always uses only verified information confirmed by two different sources. There were no such sources regarding the incident in Volnovakha. Blurriness of the situation, lack of independent control over the events, impossibility for reputable journalists to work there – all this leads to the fact that the global reaction was blurred, too.
– Did the attitude of the British to the Russians living in London change after the events in Ukraine, annexation of the Crimea, war in Donbass and shoot-down of the Boeing?
– There are no common views, the British are not at one in this question, too. Before this interview, I inquired about the opinion polls from different organizations. In particular, during the Maidan in Kiev, a lot of English citizens, about 60%, supported the protests in Ukraine, while 20% expressed their strong objection.
– Objection to what?
– To the fact that the then lawfully elected president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown without a proper and due process. People constituting these 20% say, "Why were Ukrainians in such a hurry?" In their opinion, you should have waited for the elections and drive Yanukovych away in a smart manner – it would have been the European way. Overthrowing the head of the state is not the British model of behaviour.
However, the sentiments towards Ukraine are generally quite benevolent in the UK because you have chosen the European way. But you must follow this way for many more years before the doors will be opened. Nevertheless, you have chosen the European vector and Europeans cannot but like it.