In 2005 I went to Russia as a political adviser working for a Russian businessman who had a series of assignments for me. The one that’s memorable today is the job he needed doing in Crimea. The Colour Revolution was going on in Kiev, and the Russians in Crimea were most concerned that they would be cut off inside the EU eventually and would be expropriated, as the Ukrainians were threatening at the time. Before the end of our visit I was able to connect the head of the Soyuz (freedom) Party in Cerimpheropol who I met at the Parliament Building, now so famous, with Charles Tannock, the leader of the EU mission to Ukraine, a Conservative MEP I had had other dealings with. By chance all the pieces fitted together, and he was able to reassure them. I remember my Russian host going down on his knees saying, ‘Hienry, I want to worship you. Hienry, I want to worship you.’
That was twelve and more years ago when Russia was emerging from many years of mayhem under Yeltsin, and Gorbachev, and Putin was still establishing himself and recovering Russia from the oligarchs and the invasion of western banks and corporations. Today could not be more different with Russia now having the most advanced weaponry, an economy that has not only survived the kleptocrats but is now thriving as the biggest producer of resources for many parts of the world. With Brexit coming up, we should be forming partnerships with Russia in business, not making the total relationship impossible.
In light of recent events, I decided to contact my former host who was in Britain last year, when we last spoke.
I am very sorry about our stupid government making up all the nonsense about Russia and making so much unnecessary trouble. It is such a stupid thing to be doing.
I have nothing but admiration for Russia and the Russian people I have met during my life, including you and your family and the people we dealt with during our visits there.
If you need any help with anything or someone you know can’t get through to someone in business or within government in the UK, perhaps I could try and help.
Keep in touch. Maybe you will be able to see us this year if you are in the UK or are planning a trip.