“Britain has been infiltrated by an ugly strain of Russia phobia,” complains Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Evening Standard, The Independent and other media interests in Britain.
Anyone else would have written not Russia phobia but Russophobia. The difference is important – the latter is an irrational fear of Russians; the former, only of Putin’s Russia and those who do her bidding.
Lebedev’s name-calling was prompted by the current scandal of rich Russians meddling in British elections, just as they’ve been proved to meddle in US ones.
He himself has suffered traumatising abuse: “Newspapers that pride themselves on tolerance… have written… that Russians like me are a ‘fifth column in modern Britain’. One obscure publication… has called me a Russian spy.” Wounding words indeed.
Now, groundless accusations of a crime, such as spying for a foreign country, strike me as libellous and defamatory. Is Lebedev going to sue? He should, for otherwise some sceptics might think the accusations aren’t as libellous as all that.
He then proceeds to unravel his own argument by uttering two seemingly innocuous phrases: “I have lived [in Britian] since I was eight years old” and “I bought The Evening Standard in 2009 and The Independent in 2010.”
Lebedev has such long residency in Britain because his father, Alexander, was a KGB spy working at the Soviet embassy under diplomatic cover. Actually, the past tense in that sentence contradicts Putin’s frank admission: “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB. This is for life.”
If Vlad is to be believed, Alexander Lebedev only ever left his KGB/FSB job supposedly. Like many other KGB officers, including Putin himself, he was infiltrated into legit life by his lifelong sponsor. Lebedev was, according to cynical Muscovites, appointed oligarch.
Following in the footsteps of Putin and his colleagues, Alexander became a billionaire overnight, ostensibly displaying a business acumen that puts to shame the likes of Bill Gates and Jim Ratcliffe, who both took years to make their fortunes.
In fact, they all – including Putin – acted as conduits for transferring KGB and Party funds, along with oil revenues, out of Russia and into the West. They are welcome to live high on the hog off the proceeds, but they only have the use of their money, not the ownership of it.
Theirs is the leasehold, with the freehold remaining in the firm grasp of the ruling KGB camarilla. Those people know that money can do so much more than buy yachts and palaces in the West.
It can also serve their nefarious ends in all sorts of other ways: by enabling them to penetrate political circles, skew Western elections, draw influential Westerners into blackmailable activities, spread Putin propaganda – and in general poison the air with the emanations of their putrid cash.
Lebedev’s “I bought…” is a barefaced lie exposed by a simple question: Where did the money come from, Evgeny? Where did a man still in his 20s and without any lucrative business experience find the funds to acquire major British media?
Oh well, he actually ‘co-owns’ the papers with his KGB father. In other words, those media outlets are in fact double-fronted. Evgeny acts as the front for Alexander; Alexander provides the same service for the KGB/FSB camarilla running Russia.
That’s why Lebedev’s indignant protests along the lines of “I have never met Vladimir Putin” are risible, if true. I don’t think Kim Philby ever met Stalin either, and I doubt Robert Maxwell ever broke bread with Andropov. Yet they both served the Soviet cause each in his own way.
The influx of filthy lucre pilfered by the ruling kleptofascist gang from the Russian people has a deeply corrupting effect on the host country. British politicians and other influential figures are being seduced and bought, wholesale or retail.
Buying legitimacy comes with a higher price tag, but no expense is spared. Thus the transparent gangster and Putin’s confidant Abramovich had to pump hundreds of millions into Chelsea FC to become accepted as a fixture of London society – until even the pliant British government caught a whiff of his malodorous wealth.
Abramovich had his visa revoked and for a while could only watch Chelsea games on television. HMG also threatened to invoke unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) to seize the assets of rich Russians suspected of having profited from the proceeds of crime.
But there’s nothing unexplained about their wealth. No one can make billions in Russia without being in cahoots with, and accountable to, the KGB camarilla. The wealth of every ‘oligarch’ is contingent on Putin’s good graces, which are in turn contingent on their toeing the line.
How they do so varies. I doubt, for example, that many of them engage in common-or-garden spying. More typically, they are agents of influence, talent spotters or simply bacilli of corruption slowly dripped into the veins of our society.
The new arrivals come bearing billions, and we welcome the loot. But, contrary to Emperor Vespasian’s adage, the Russians’ money does smell. It comes packaged with global laundering, regular assassinations and other criminal activities.
Thanks to Russian ‘oligarchs’, London has become the money laundering capital of the world, which corrupts the whole society. Filthy money sullies every hand that touches it.
Those purloined and laundered billions buy political clout, not just Belgravia mansions (the Russians purchase close to 80 per cent of London houses worth £10 million-plus). Today’s politicians lack the moral fibre to steer clear of ill-gotten loot.
This is a cross-party phenomenon. A few years ago, Osborne and Mandelson enjoyed hospitality on the yacht belonging to the mobster Deripaska (banned from entry in the US, by the way). Later, when Osborne lost his cabinet job, he had a soft landing as editor of Lebedev’s Standard.
And last year, Boris Johnson stayed with the Lebedevs at their Umbrian estate. “I am proud to be a friend of Boris Johnson,” boasts Evgeny. That’s no doubt true. But if Mr Johnson is equally proud of this association, he ought to remember what friendship with Putin and his emissaries has done to Trump’s entourage.
The Conservative Party follows its leader’s lead and avidly accepts campaign contributions from Lebedev’s friends, if not, if he’s to be believed, from Lebedev himself.
Those figuring in the unfolding scandal are Alexander Temerko, formerly of Russia’s Defence Ministry; Lyubov Chernukhina, the wife of Russia’s former Deputy Finance Minister; financiers George Piskov, Alexander Knaster and Lev Mikheev, all with FSB connections. There are, no doubt, many others.
Those accepting their donations ought to remind themselves that the Conservative Friends of Russia (later renamed the Westminster Russia Forum) was launched by the senior diplomat Sergey Nalobin, who was subsequently expelled from Britain for espionage.
“If you don’t touch ordure, it won’t stink,” says the Russian proverb, which our politicians ought to learn in the original language (Не тронь говно, не завоняет). They should tell those Russians in no uncertain terms to stay away from British politics, ideally from Britain – and to keep their filthy money to themselves.
And Evgeny Lebedev should spare us his bogus indignation. He knows what’s what, and so do we. Well, some of us do, at any rate.