Chalk another one up for Peter Hitchens’s darling

How many crimes does Putin have to commit before our ‘conservatives’ and ‘libertarians’ realise he and his regime are indeed criminal?

There is no limit, I’m afraid, as there is no limit to people’s idiocy – especially when it’s propped up by strident ideology.

Putin is self-admittedly proud of being a KGB officer “for life”? So what? George Bush was head of the CIA, which is fully equivalent, even if, unlike Putin’s sponsoring organisation, the CIA never murdered millions of its citizens.

Putin had Russian apartment blocks blown up, blamed the Chechens for the crime and used it as a pretext for uncapping a gusher of blood in North Caucasus? Oh well, say Putin’s ‘conlib’ groupies, there’s no proof he did it.

How, pray tell, would they expect to have proof if the terrorist and the investigator happened to be the same person?

Actually, there was ample proof, and Alexander Litvinenko published it in his book Blowing Up Russia. He was about to publish more when he was murdered with nuclear weapons in the middle of London.

And still the ‘conlibs’ found excuses. Yes, there was a clear motive and only Putin had the means, but Putin’s men weren’t found guilty in a court of law, so there.

Of course they weren’t. They fled back to Russia where they hid behind the wall of parliamentary immunity and Putin’s refusal to extradite them.

In between those crimes there was Russia’s blitzkrieg on Georgia whose purpose was mainly educational. All those ex-Soviet republics thinking of veering westwards had to learn, or rather re-learn, who’s boss.

Again there were excuses galore. It was Georgia that attacked Russia, not the other way around, claimed the ‘conlibs’.

Ever looked at the map, chaps? Compared the size of the two countries?

Georgia attacked Russia in 2008 like Finland attacked it in 1939, or Poland attacked Germany the same year. In both cases the aggressor claimed to be the victim, and Putin has learned from his role models.

In parallel, the last semblance of free speech was stamped out in Russia by means both quasi-legal, such as shutting down papers and broadcast channels or blocking websites, and downright criminal, such as beatings, assassinations and threats thereof.

More than 40 journalists were murdered, including such high fliers as Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Moscow Forbes. God only knows how many others were roughed up and crippled within an inch of their lives.

Opposition politicians didn’t fare much better: many were imprisoned if they were lucky or murdered if they were not. A few others, such as the lawyer Magnitsky, were both: murdered while in prison.

Libertarians! Conservatives! How could you find excuses for a transparently fascist regime brutally denying its people the same liberties you supposedly cherish?

Not a problem. Putin is leading Russia to freedom and prosperity, they said, but the road can’t possibly be straight. It has to meander a bit, some pitfalls are inevitable along the way.

Then came the Ukraine, and here the ‘conlibs’ have come into their own. Putin, they explain, is a true Russian patriot looking after his country’s national interests, and don’t you wish we too had such a strong leader?

The Ukraine is being used by Nato and the EU as a springboard for an impending attack on Russia, or at least Putin is within his right to feel that way even in the absence of any evidence of such an intention. In fact, all European countries are rapidly disarming, but this may well be a dastardly ploy to conceal war preparations.

We hate the EU, Putin hates the EU, so Putin is our friend. Actually, Putin detests ‘the Anglo-Saxons’ even more that he hates the EU, while we kind of like them, but we’ll let that pass.

And didn’t Putin ban homosexual propaganda in schools? Of course he did. So he’s one of us.

By that criterion Hitler was also one of us, along with Stalin, bin-Laden and Jihadi John, but hey – ours is still a vestigially free country, so Peter Hitchens can choose what kind of people he wishes to claim as his own.

Let’s not forget history, say those who are cretinously ignorant of it. Isn’t the Crimea traditionally Russian?

Actually, no, it isn’t. It belonged to Russia during the same period, give or take a couple of years, that India belonged to Britain. Would that justify sending the Royal Marines to New Delhi or shelling Calcutta?

And isn’t the Russian minority woefully persecuted in the Ukraine? It is, if you regard having to learn their country’s language as persecution.

In fact, the Russians in the Ukraine are persecuted a lot less than German minorities were persecuted in Czechoslovakia and Poland in the late 1930s. So Hitler had a point, don’t you think? And if he didn’t, Putin certainly has.

Then, a few hours ago one of Putin’s leading political opponents Boris Nemtsov was shot dead a hundred yards from the Kremlin. His mangled corpse, riddled with bullets, was left on the pavement for three hours – no doubt pour encourager les autres.

Last week Nemtsov was interviewed on the website His mother, he said with a smile, was scared Putin would kill him.

“Interesting,” said the interviewer, “And are you too, after talking to your mother, afraid that Putin will kill you, either personally or through intermediaries?”

“Well, yes,” replied Nemtsov. “Not so much as my mother, but still… Actually, I’m not scared of him all that much. If I really feared him, I’d hardly be leading an opposition party…”

“I hope,” concluded the interviewer, “that common sense prevails and Putin won’t kill you.”

“God willing,” said Nemtsov. “I hope so too.”

Common sense didn’t prevail. What prevailed is the evil despot in the Kremlin. That energumen couldn’t stomach Nemtsov’s open opposition to the rape of the Ukraine, his gathering a dossier of evidence proving Russia’s direct involvement, which Putin mendaciously and cynically denies.

When Klebnikov was killed in 2004, he was shot by two men firing Kalashnikovs from a moving car. Putin’s FSB immediately spread rumours that the American had been shot by a jealous husband.

This time the Russian Investigative Committee has announced it’s exploring three similarly likely versions of Nemtsov’s murder: he was killed for his solidarity with Charlie Hebdo victims; then there were his commercial activities resented by many; and let’s not forget the possibility of a personal tiff.

I can save the investigators’ precious time: Nemtsov was organising a march of protest against the Ukraine war, and for that and other such misdemeanours he had to die – no doubt to the forthcoming accompaniment of ‘conlib’ hosannas.

None has come so far because they obviously have to catch their breath and think up another spurious excuse for the ‘strong leader’. If you’re stuck for one, chaps, ask Peter Hitchens. He’s good at that sort of thing. Christopher Booker is also available, and he can come cheaper.

Boris Nemtsov, RIP.   






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