Do you think there’s such a thing as a good Russian? One or two, I suppose, but only ones on the brink of expiring or actually in a coffin. Generally speaking, they have to be dead.
When Alexander Litvinenko was fit and healthy, he was a nasty piece of work. As an operative in both the KGB and its successor, the FSB, he was by definition an unscrupulous spy, a seedy Ruskie snooper. He was puppet of an alien state and a palpable liar.
Then one day he stood up in a west London bar and told a roomful of journalists that he believed Putin had ordered the death of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
At this point a miraculous transformation came over him. He became a noble character, a credible and respectable gentleman whose word was his (James) bond. Previous misconceptions were swept aside and he was established as a trustworthy and reliable source of information. He was a brave hero.
But this was only the start. When he was murdered, his stock rose like a North Korean missile. He was declared a candidate for sainthood whose record on speaking the truth rivalled George Washington. The Telegraph went into mourning at his demise and the Daily Mail put him on their Christmas card list with the address ‘heaven’.
I’m not claiming that he wasn’t murdered by the Russian state or its sympathisers. I’m just pointing out how quickly we all accepted that his death had been personally ordered by Putin.
Then there was the case of the Russian banker German Gorbuntsov who was shot as he stepped out of a taxi in East London. Bankers aren’t generally speaking popular figures owing to their tendency to bankrupt investors, destroy economies and line their pockets. But he moved into the ‘thoroughly decent bloke’ category on the basis that the attack took place on Vladimir Putin’s birthday. The evidence was conclusive: Putin must have ordered it. It’s the sort of thing any Russian President does to celebrate his birthday. It’s what Russians are like.
Shortly afterwards his status was raised to ‘paragon of exemplary behaviour’. This was achieved by his announcing that he believed his former business partners were behind the attack. Very quickly his status was elevated to ‘diamond geezer’ when he said these ‘business partners’ were friendly with Mr Putin. This made the case crystal clear. It was Putin what done it.
More recently we’ve seen the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Within moments of the collapse of this unfortunate man, Putin was declared responsible for the attack. All the evidence pointed to this conclusion. That is, Skripal had been a Russian double agent. Putin is Russian. Therefore he did it. Putin was guilty the moment a Sun journalist was put on the job.
I’m not saying Putin is innocent. That would be a tricky argument to maintain. But he certainly hasn’t been proven guilty. And what is worrying is the general acceptance that Russians as a whole are a pretty brutal crew. They are not like us; they are hard and cruel.
The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal has hogged the front pages of the media and the speeches of opportunistic politicians for weeks; and from the start we knew the guilty party: the Russian people personified by Putin. They are by nature intolerant and vicious. Its enemies are therefore angelic.
Since the assassination attempt the traitor Sergei, who sold his county’s secrets to MI6 for profit, has become a lovable family man who only wanted to live a life of peace in our green and pleasant land. (Incidentally, he didn’t, according to our media, ‘sell’ our spooks secrets. He ‘passed’ them on. How he got rich is unexplained).
Russia denied any involvement, but that only really proves that they are liars as well as gangsters. The denial was given scant coverage, because you can’t trust a Ruskie and anyway we were too busy backing Boris’ call for ‘robust’ responses for their crimes.
The deluge of media condemnation was alarming. You’d think the Russians stood accused of murdering thousands of civilians, like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. One accusation of attempted murder dominated headlines for weeks on end. And why?
Because we are anti-Russian. And because we are being led by the nose into a dangerous and frightening hatred of that country.
Our leader, the virtuous May, declared that the poisoning was an attack on the British Empire and issued threats of Churchillian nature. The poisoning of a former Russian spy by the Russian state, she said, was an ‘unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK’.
That is nonsense and we all know it. And if we weren’t desperately prejudiced against Russia, we’d say so. But we don’t because, to our shame, we are unrepentant Russophobes; and the Cold War is only in the earliest stage of thaw.