Whenever I write about yet another peccadillo perpetrated by Vlad and his jolly friends, be that a ‘whacking’, money laundering or shooting down an airliner, there’s always one blithering… well, person accusing me of hating Russia.
Nothing can be further from the truth. I have every faith in Russia, especially now that it’s in the safe hands of its ruling KGB dynasty.
I’m even prepared to accept, pain in heart, that Russia and Putin are co-extensive, as once explained by Vlad’s deputy chief of staff Vyacheslav Volodin: “There is no Russia if there is no Putin”.
This analysis is painful because Vlad is only immortal in heaven but, alas, not in earth. Since he’s now 64 – a muscular, bare-chested 64, but still – presumably his demise can’t be further than 2-3 decades away, so Russia isn’t long for this world.
But I’m sure Volodin didn’t mean it literally. He merely expressed a boundless faith in the KGB dynasty and a certainty that it’s leading Russia in the right direction. I share both the faith and the certainty. I’m even prepared to go out on a limb and put an approximate timeframe (ATF) on each imminent improvement.
I believe that one day the Russians will learn to put money in the bank without laundering it first.
As it is, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project details 70,000 laundering transactions, with 1,920 involving UK banks.
As Her Majesty’s subject, I deplore the contempt thereby shown for the City. Just 2.5 per cent? Surely we deserve more. What does Panama have that we don’t have?
However, I’m partly reassured by the amounts involved. It’s estimated that £100 billion is laundered through London every year. Now maths isn’t my forte, but if we handle 2.5 per cent of all such transactions worldwide, and if the same ratio of amounts to transactions holds globally, then the overall amount…
Well, I can’t count that high. Yet one can understand why leading economists believe that summary withdrawal of Russian offshore assets could precipitate a global financial crisis from hell.
Anyway, that isn’t an issue because Russia is well on her way to fiscal probity. ATF: 200 years.
And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to feed themselves.
As it is, almost half of the food enjoyed by the Russians comes from abroad.
Over the past 20 years, the number of people employed in agriculture has declined 5-fold. Of the original 67,000 villages, 20,000 have disappeared. The remainder are mostly populated by old people patiently awaiting death.
The country has reverted to barter agriculture, with manual labour predominant. Agricultural productivity in Russia is eight times lower than in the EU. Small private holdings produce 50 per cent of all meat and milk, and 90 per cent of all vegetables.
But all that is going to change. Russia will again become one of the world’s top food exporters, as she was before 1917, rather than one of the top importers, as she is now. ATF: 100 years.
And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to make internationally competitive products designed to help people rather than kill them.
The Russians are about to deploy the new Mach 5 Zircon missile, which, according to our experts, is too fast for our defences to intercept. This is one of the many weapon systems coming on stream at a pace suggesting a thriving manufacturing sector.
Alas, this only suggests where the Russians’ priorities lie, and why almost half of their budget is spent on ‘defence’. Americans spend more in absolute terms, but their GDP is almost 10 times higher, and a great deal of their defence spending goes on personnel salaries and pensions – a rubric hardly overstressed in the Russian budget.
Other than that, over the past 20 years Russia’s manufacturing capacity has shrunk by two-thirds. What it does produce makes Russians laugh sardonically.
As a small example, their motor trade can’t even make a government limousine worthy of the name. Vlad has to imitate African dictators and make do with a Mercedes. As to the domestic goods usable by poor mortals, Russians mock them mercilessly. No self-respecting Russian will use anything made in Russia, and most essentials (such as tampons) aren’t made there at all.
All this will change in short order. ATF: 250 years.
And I believe that one day the Russians will live as well and as free as, well, Romanians.
In a recent poll, Russia comes in at 51 out of 56 countries rated for quality of life, behind Pakistan and Egypt. But then true Russians disdain soulless materialism (until they come to the West, that is, where they’re seduced into it while still clearing passport control).
According to Russian data, 28 million live under the poverty level of $175 a month and qualified medical care is available only for the rich.
To compensate, Russia comfortably leads Europe in killing. According to UN data, 70 per cent of all murders on Europe’s territory are committed in Russia, home to only 19 per cent of Europeans. The country’s murder rate is 20 times higher than in Norway, which makes one wonder if perhaps soulless materialism isn’t without its benefits.
Nor does the country do noticeably better in metaphysical categories. In the Freedom House rating, Russia stands at 181 out of the world’s 199 countries in freedom of the press, below Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Burundi and Chad.
At 195 out of 198 countries in the corruption rating, Russia finds herself in a similar neighbourhood, next to Sudan and Burma.
The country’s democracy rating of 129 puts her below Saudi Arabia, that famous bastion of pluralism, but – and here one must doff one’s hat – just a whisker above Somalia.
But I’m sure that under the guidance of the KGB dynasty all this will change, soon. ATF: 300 years, roughly the lifespan of the Romanov dynasty.
And I believe that one day the Russians will learn to regard adjacent countries as neighbours rather than prey.
Here one regretfully has to be more pessimistic. After all, Russia can’t fall back on a rich heritage of neighbourly friendliness. She began to attack the West the moment she became, well, Russia under Ivan IV. That fine tradition has ebbed and flowed without ever petering out – as I’m sure it will. ATF: 500 years.
These Martin Luther King cadences prove that, rather than being the cynical Russophobe I’m alleged to be by those blithering… well, detractors, I’m an incurably credulous romantic. Well done, Vlad. I’m proud of you.