The war in Syria is reaching its closing stages. It seems probable that Assad will survive and ISIS is moving elsewhere to wreak its harvest. This would not have happened if Russia had not intervened, and assisted the Syrian army with air power and other support. The Russian intervention lifted the reputation of Putin around the world and even on this blog, he became a little bit of a hero for doing this.
That was despite knowing that Putin was less than ideal as a democrat, driving out Russia’s small and middle sized businesses that had blossomed in the brief period of free capitalism that Russia enjoyed. My friend Igori had opened a flower shop near the Kremlin and became quite wealthy for a while. He hired me as a political adviser in an attempt to save his property in the Crimea at the time of the Orange Revolution in Kiev. I knew a few Conservative MEPs then who had assisted my campaign to save the British Hallmark. I was therfore able to introduce the head of the Soyuz Party, the largest Crimean Party, representing the Russians, at the Parliament in Cimpheropol, to Charles Tannock, who was fronting EU operations in Kiev. As a result Igori went down on his knees. He thought his land was safe.
He’s now moving to the UK, and is learning better English at a school in Cambridge, and has given up on Russia. He says Russia under Putin is worse than it was in Soviet times. The first book I brought on holiday, Putin’s Russia by the assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, confirms this opinion a hundredfold. The way Russia has been run by Putin is beyond awful, beyond criminal. It is beyond words. Published by Harvill Press ISBN 978-1-843-43050-6. I say beyond words, but somehow Anna manages to give you the story. This she did by taking individual cases that give you the big picture. Every page is quotable.
I will quote just one – pp 266.
When the Fascists entered Denmark, all Jews were ordered to sew yellow stars on their clothing so they could be easily recognised. All the Danes promptly sewed on yellow stars, both to save the Jews, and to save themselves from turning into Fascists. Their King was right in there with them. In Moscow today the situation is quite the opposite.
Anyone who wants to imagine themselves a supporter of Putin, has to read this book. The conditions in the Russian armed forces is horrific with over 500 soldiers murdered annually by their own officers. Beatings are commonplace. Their salaries are stolen. Many are hired out as laborers. It has to be one of the most inhuman unfree cultures on the planet, if not the most.
On this blog recently we’ve read and seen footage of Putin being replaced with a double. If Putin went, he was no doubt replaced with a stooge who allows the FSB to run everything, as Putin did. My next holiday read tells a very similar story, penned by the assassinated Alexander Litvinenko – Blowing Up Russia. One of his chapters is titled ‘The FSB against the people’. The other part of the story is the people. The ones described by Anna are the salt of the earth, suffering an appalling regime, but still totally human, and patriotic. She criticises their tendency to stick their heads in the sand and believe the propaganda. She certainly could not be accused of doing that, herself, brave beyond imagination, openly taking on what she knew was total evil.