I am replying to Big Eye (“When money is the root of all evil fallibility is not a surprise”). The precise quotation should be “The love of money …” A minor point, however, as all big events such as the Olympics and World Cup are focused on nothing but mega profits.
It seems that Russia now accepts what the rest of the world knows, it is guilty of all sorts of fraudulent activity, while still denying corruption over its World Cup bid.
There are, however, much more serious aspects of Putin’s kleptocracy. When the Malaysian Airways aircraft went down in the Ukraine, MH17 in July 2014, no independent observers were allowed near the crash site. Despite Russian denials it was almost certainly brought down by a “buc” missile. The recent downing of that Russian charter jet, saw Russian troops searching the area along with a token Egyptian presence. Return of victims’ remains to Russia was accompanied by an armed salute. For a civilian aircraft this is unusual. It was yet another demonstration of the way in which Putin has militarised life in modern Russia.
In the bad old days of the Cold War many of us on the left were prepared to cut the Soviet Union some slack in its anti-capitalist stance. US stupidity in Indo-China and elsewhere had left a wary legacy. Successive US governments had lied to the world with appalling consequences. Western triumphalism over the collapse of the Soviet empire, and that is what it became, despite leftist sympathies in the west for anything anti-capitalist, now seems all rather pyrrhic.
The simple fact is that Putin’s quasi-Csarist state is a grotesque re-working of the West’s capitalist model. There is no real opposition to Putin. Most appallingly the ghost of Stalin has been re-awakened. School libraries are being “cleansed” of anything which might reveal the history of atrocities committed in Soviet times, especially in relation to the Ukraine.
A Putin adviser recently claimed that Poland was mostly responsible for the start of World War II. There is no end to the mis-information which is fed daily to the Russian people who have no alternative view. Putin’s action in Syria is about nothing more than protecting his military base in Latakia from where he has attacked all anti-Assad rebels regardless of their ideology. Having successfully fought wars in Chechnya, Georgia and having abrogated the agreement with Ukraine and simply annexed Crimea, he sees himself as invincible. Readers may not be aware that the UK stood as guarantor to the agreement which saw Ukraine abandon its nuclear arsenal, a relic of Soviet times.
It is, of course, no secret that our nation’s capital is awash with laundered roubles. One of the first priorities of all oligarchs is to secure a western bolt hole should they fall out of favour. Following the annexation of Crimea we saw the nauseating spectacle of our own PM blustering about sanctions and then quietly dropping the subject when reminded of the potential damage to British business.
“Meet the Russians” ran for several years as one of Russia’s most popular TV reality shows. A tabloid celebrated its success. “England likes to make fun of us but is it prepared to lose our investments?” Global capitalism remains utterly amoral.
Terrington St Clement