Norman and Dominic, schoolmates

From time to time, I point out the lamentable ignorance of the Russian liberal opposition to Putin (most recently, in Their hearts are in the right place, but their minds haven’t been trained to run things they say and write through a rigorous inner test.

However, Vladimir Abarinov stands out even against that dim background. Today’s Grani, one of the online magazines blocked within Russia, runs his article about Russian meddling in the British general election, where he refers to Dominic Cummings as “Norman Stone’s classmate at Oxford”.

Well, Cummings was born in 1971, when my late friend Norman (b. 1941) was a fellow at Cambridge. He got his undergraduate degree not from Oxford but from Cambridge, and he did so in 1962, when Cummings wasn’t even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye.

If Mr Abarinov is aware of some mysterious educational establishment in Oxford where Norman and Dominic cribbed from each other, he should by all means reveal that information. Barring that, he ought to seek treatment for the traditional Russian disease of speaking with an air of authority on subjects about which he knows next to nothing.

I can only repeat what I said in the article mentioned above, that, just as the world began with the Word, a successful opposition must start with a great idea, which itself has to be a product of informed and enlightened thought. That’s not in evidence among the Russian opponents to Putin, which is why the world won’t be spared his malevolent presence for a while yet.

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