Every time I promise myself to ignore Hitchens’s sycophantic effluvia about Putin’s Russia (“the most conservative, patriotic and Christian country left in Europe”), he writes something that can’t be ignored.
This time his very first sentence says everything one needs to know about this hack: “How all the Russophobes hurried to believe in the faked death of the Russian Arkady Babchenko in Kiev last week.”
I don’t know if Hitchens deliberately uses every venomous shibboleth spun out by Putin’s Goebbelses, or it’s simply a coincidence, puny minds thinking alike.
But tarring everyone who opposes Putin with the brush of Russophobia is exactly what they all do. If you hate Putin’s kleptofascist regime, you hate Russia because Putin is Russia. Without Putin, there’s no Russia, according to Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the Duma.
And without Russia, enlarged Putin in his usual deadpan manner, there won’t be a world left. In other words, should Putin feel threatened, he won’t hesitate to unleash a nuclear Armageddon.
According to Hitchens and other Putin shills both in and out of Russia, hatred of Russia is the only possible motive for detesting this evil regime. Hence all those hundreds of thousands of Russians who protest by walking into skull-splitting police truncheons, do so because they hate Russia.
Those dozens of courageous journalists who write anti-Putin articles knowing that every word could be their death warrant do so out of irresistible Russophobia. They need Hitchens to teach them Russian patriotism.
“It’s easy to accuse the Kremlin of directly killing people because they are nasty, dishonest, violent and secretive, which they are,” continues Hitchens. Really? And there I was, thinking Putin’s Russia is “the most conservative, patriotic and Christian country left in Europe.”
That’s his standard ruse, designed to ward off accusations of sycophancy, or worse. Having made this sop towards Russophobes like me, Hitchens feels free to shill for Putin in earnest:
“But [Russophobes’] gullibility was turned up to maximum as soon as they heard of Mr Babchenko’s supposed death, a ludicrous fake involving bags of pig’s blood, and the coldly cruel deception of Mrs Babchenko…”
The other day I wrote that every supporter of Putin’s regime is an accomplice to its crimes. But few are more insistently complicit than Hitchens. And few can match his moral callousness and cynical disregard of truth.
How would Hitchens feel if informed by the police that a $40,000 contract has been taken out on him? Try to imagine his reaction, though this would stretch your imagination to breaking point: no one would value Hitchens’s life as highly.
Moreover, he’s the small fry at the top of the list including 30 really big-time marks. And the only way to save himself and others is to take part in a sting operation, which, looking down from his dizzying moral ascendancy, Hitchens dares to call “a ludicrous fake”.
Would Hitchens heroically decline such an offer and proudly go to his death, closely followed by the deaths of many others? If you believe that, there’s a bridge over the Thames I’d like to sell you.
Here’s how movingly Babchenko himself describes his ordeal, in the stream of consciousness style he sometimes uses:
“You come home from the morgue, the stench of blood and formaldehyde can be smelled a mile away, not having slept for 24 hours, having lived through your own murder, having walked about for a month with a target on your forehead, waiting for that shot, a month lived with the realisation that your death is paid for – your death is paid for. This thought is piercing – you hug your wife who’s no longer even hysterical, the hysterical phase ended several days ago, and what’s left now is total, absolute emptiness, deathly senselessness, everything has been squeezed out… you don’t know how long you’ll live, for how long you’ll be followed by bodyguards, you don’t know when you’ll simply be able to live with open curtains and your daughter will be able to play with other children… and those c**** write about this without having a f****** clue about the hell I’ve been through, and may God spare them knowing or living through this, so go on writing, while I’ve just come back from such darkness, climbed out of such abyss…”
That’s Russophobia, as far as Hitchens is concerned. Then comes the didactic bit, from a man Babchenko would describe as a c*** who pretends to know all about Russia, but really knows f***-all (I myself would never use such language):
“Don’t rush to conclusions too easily about this part of the world. The Wild East is a murky place, with more than one villain in it. It’s as likely that such murders (when genuine) are the work of gangsters not under direct government control.”
One has to admire craft, however it’s applied. The parenthetical phrase is a subtle hint at the likelihood that most (all?) political murders may not be genuine.
They have been staged for the benefit of gullible Russophobes, and trust Hitchens to see through the ploy. Verily I say unto you, Hitchens must possess Christ-like resurrecting powers.
Any day now we’ll see walking through the door Anna Politkovskaya, Galina Starovoitova, Boris Nemtsov, Natalia Estremirova, Sergei Magintsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Paul Khlebnikov, Atyom Borovik, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anastasia Baburova and hundreds of other victims of Putin. Any day now we’ll see the passengers and crew of Flight MH17 smiling from our TV screens.
When it comes to political assassinations, there is indeed only one villain in Russia: her criminal ruling elite, which is an organic fusion of the secret police and organised crime.
The cocktail has been blended so thoroughly that even people who know Russia infinitely better than Hitchens (such as myself, false modesty aside) find it impossible to see where one ingredient ends and the other begins.
No Western government has the same concentration of billionaires as Putin’s clique, led by the good colonel himself, reputedly the world’s richest man. How do you suppose they came by their billions? Saving up by taking bag lunches?
The demarcation line between Putin’s government and gangsters exists only in what passes for Hitchens’s mind. Even JFK’s administration tried to use the Mafia for wet jobs. In Putin’s Russia the gangsters are the administration, and the administration are the gangsters.
Hitchens insists that those blaming this group for political murders have no proof. True enough, the murderers don’t carry in their pockets a licence to kill so-and-so signed by Putin personally. Actually, it wouldn’t matter if they did: they’re practically never caught.
But it takes either a madman or a Putin propagandist (paid or voluntary, makes no difference) not to see the common element over which all Putin’s victims overlap: they detest what he has done to Russia.
Hitchens’ standards of proof loosen up remarkably when it comes to shilling for Putin: “I’d guess [my emphasis] such gangsters probably killed the brave reporter Pavel Sheremet, whose car was blown up… in Kiev in July 2016 shortly after he’d criticised pro-Western Ukrainian militia leaders and their links with organised crime.”
Right. It was the dastardly Ukies what done it, having taken time out from firing missiles at Malaysian airliners. The same Ukrainian villains who had usurped power that rightfully belongs to Putin and his stooges. (That’s how Hitchens routinely interprets the popular uprising in the Ukraine.)
One can only wonder on what basis Hitchen guesses that, considering that, unlike Putin’s kleptofascist gang, Ukrainian leaders have never been suspected of political murder before or since – and Sheremet had had to flee Russia one step ahead of Putin’s goons.
(Babchenko’s reaction at the time was different. Addressing Putin’s gang, he asked in his article: “What did you kill Pasha Sheremet for, degenerates?”)
Yet Putin would be to blame for such murders even if a few of them were indeed committed by individuals driven by personal urges.
For over the last two decades, Putin’s totalitarian propaganda has systematically created an atmosphere of military hysteria and psychotic hatred. Falling victim are millions of zombified Russians, who have been brainwashed to regard every pro-West opponent of Putin as at best their personal enemy and at worst a target.
Or certainly a Russophobe, the term favoured by the most strident propagandists. Such as Hitchens.