Hospice Russia

Tim Collard, a retired British diplomat who spent most of his career in China and Germany and is an active member of the Labour Party, writing on his blog on The Telegraph‘s website:

The BBC reports that Mr Bill Browder, head of a company called Hermitage Capital and once the largest foreign investor in Russia, has now described that large and empty country as “essentially a criminal state”. One’s first reaction is that Mr Browder, who has had far better opportunities for observation than most of us, has taken rather a long time to realise this. But then none of us has been particularly quick off the mark in grasping what has been right in front of our noses for years. Their representatives are still polluting the G8, the Council of Europe and other supposedly civilised institutions. We still pretend politely to take Mr Vladimir Putin seriously.

But I think we can accept Mr Browder’s solidly grounded appraisal as the definitive word on Russia. On the world stage it is the equivalent of the shaven-headed and tattooed drunk who waylays you in incomprehensibly threatening terms in the centre of Wigan at two on a Saturday morning. It constitutes a permanent threat to its neighbours. Its rampant gangsterism is actually worse than totalitarianism: whereas China’s oppression of the minorities in its border areas is at least motivated by trying to preserve order, Russia prefers to allow gangster enclaves to proliferate all around its borders (Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Transdnistria, arguably Kaliningrad). The Soviet Union used to be described, most aptly, as “Upper Volta with rockets”. Progress of a sort has been made, and modern Russia might best be described as Moss Side with rockets.

And then they come over here, buying up nice parts of London and football clubs. Yes, they bring lots of money in, but we try not to think too hard about how some of that money was obtained. (To be fair, as Mr Browder has now ascertained, it is difficult to make money honestly in Russia, even with the best will in the world.)

But can one simply give up on such a large and powerful country? The answer is that we may have to. It’s dying. The population is falling steadily; male life expectancy is already well below 60 (and considerably lower than that for anyone getting on the wrong side of the regime). The place is even more sodden with vodka than a British town centre on a Saturday morning. The strategic balance which existed during the Cold War will soon be restored by the rise of China (which will have annexed Siberia by 2050). I mentioned once that my children looked at me blankly when I mentioned a country called East Germany: their grandchildren may be equally fogged by the mention of Russia.

OK, some will find this “offensive”, but don’t be too quick to start throwing the word “racist” around. It’s nothing to do with race. It’s simply that what happened there between 1917 and 1991 has poisoned an entire nation to death, as if with polonium-210. Regard for human life and dignity was permanently destroyed by Stalin et al. For a while it looked like the old traditions of Russia, notably those of the Orthodox Church, might provide a focus for a genuine revival. But the wound is clearly too deep; the Church, which was always that way inclined, has largely thrown in its lot with thuggish nationalism.

It’s sad. Dostoyevsky will always be among my top half-dozen writers; Solzhenitsyn and Shostakovich made admirable efforts to keep the flag flying through the 20th. But it’s gone. No point in denial. A terminal case. Let’s just hope its demise isn’t too painful for the rest of us.

7 responses to “Hospice Russia

  1. So well said. No comments necessary,

  2. Perfect article, thanks a lot for it.

  3. Collard is a stupid degenerate who doesn’t know anything.

    Their representatives are still polluting the G8, the Council of Europe and other supposedly civilised institutions.

    Spoken like true supremacist British imperialist scum. If you’re not like us, then you’re uncivilized… ignoring Britain’s legacy of torture, plunder, and rapine across the entire world and its continuation by being a lackey of American neocolonialism.

    It’s dying. The population is falling steadily; male life expectancy is already well below 60 (and considerably lower than that for anyone getting on the wrong side of the regime).

    Wrong again. Male LE was 61.5 years in 2008 and rising since 2005. Overall, Russia’s population fall has almost stopped in recent years under our great leader Putin, in stark contrast to the drunken degenerate Yeltsin.

    The strategic balance which existed during the Cold War will soon be restored by the rise of China (which will have annexed Siberia by 2050).

    Dream on, Russophobe rat. Any Chinese or more likely Western invasion will be mercilessly repelled by nuclear weapons.

    Regard for human life and dignity was permanently destroyed by Stalin et al.

    To the contrast, Stalin was Russia’s greatest leader who led it to unprecedented heights.

    Dostoyevsky will always be among my top half-dozen writers; Solzhenitsyn and Shostakovich made admirable efforts to keep the flag flying through the 20th. But it’s gone.

    What a despicable reptile, putting in that meaningless comment just to appease the PC requirement.

    Let’s just hope its demise isn’t too painful for the rest of us.

    I hope that if it ever does experience demise, it will take out the entire world with it – with nuclear fire.

    • “Spoken like true supremacist British imperialist scum.”

      Russia is the only nation in the world right now that claims to have right for some sort of sphere of influence or empire.

      “To the contrast, Stalin was Russia’s greatest leader who led it to unprecedented heights.”

      By that you mean number of deaths during famines or purges? It is hard to tell because in both of these cases, Russia’s greatest leader led it to unprecedented heights…

  4. Ah, our favorite Putinist! So, what took ya?

    “Collard is a stupid degenerate who doesn’t know anything.”

    So, does the “Takes one to know one” rule apply?

    “Spoken like true supremacist British imperialist scum.”

    We take that as a compliment.

    “If you’re not like us, then you’re uncivilized…”

    Ah, so I suppose it civilized to do to places like Grozny what people STRAIN to claim NATO did to Serbia?

    And this is before we get onto the gaps regarding Rights, economic advancement, and general ability to behave like something other than a banana republic into account.

    “ignoring Britain’s legacy of torture, plunder, and rapine across the entire world”

    REMEMBER THE TORTURE, PLUNDER, AND RAPINE OF PARAGUAY, ANDORRA, AND MONGOLIA BY THE BRITISH IMPERIALIST DOGS!

    See how stupid that makes you sound? Firstly, the British never even came CLOSE to going everywhere in the world, much less controlling, plundering, and “rapine” it.

    And while I will fully admit that the British Empire was hardly always angelic, I WILL point out that at the very LEAST the British and (to a lesser extent) the French actually GAVE something to their colonies: wiling independence in all but a few cases (most of which did not turn out well), an established legal code that most of them continue to use, and a history of fairly efficient administration, and indeed, they sacrificed much on the battlefields of both world wars to actually ALLOW. THEIR. COLONIES. A. WORLD. WHERE. THEY. COULD. GAIN. INDEPENDENCE.

    It does not erase or cancel out the crimes of the past, but it certainly shows that for whatever their faults, London and Paris, and the other Western colonial nations in general (with the exceptions of the Portuguese and the Germans) probably left their nations better than when they came into them (granted, the low standards sometimes show this doesn’t mean much, and they did leave them with several nasty side effects, such as the whole racial issue that has plagued ex-French North Africa and the old Portuguese colonies).

    When placed in contrast to the relationship between Russia and her “colonies”, both now (Siberia, Caucasus, etc), and prior (Warsaw Pact), and you can see the difference. At most, puppet regimes would get funneled some military aid and just enough infrastructural rebuilding to keep them operational in any confrontation with the West, but even there, the financial wealth, a good deal of the national treasures, and any industry that wasn’t nailed down (and even some that were) were shipped out.

    And this is before we get into Russia’s long and bloody history of russification, ethnic cleansing, and generally poor treatment of its colonies (do you think that the Siberians actually WANTED their land to become the dumping ground for all the “scum”- both real and government-declared- of European Russia?), and I can safely say that Moscow boasts a worse track record than any other, even the US, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and Japan.

    So think about that before you go off on that again, lest ye olde “Pot Kettle Black” routine come again.

    ” and its continuation by being a lackey of American neocolonialism.”

    Again, we take that as a COMPLIMENT. PARTICULARLY given the vast gulf that exists between “American Neocolonialism” and “Russian Colonialism.”

    “Wrong again. Male LE was 61.5 years in 2008 and rising since 2005. Overall, Russia’s population fall has almost stopped in recent years under our great leader Putin, in stark contrast to the drunken degenerate Yeltsin.”

    Sorry, but both you and Collard missed the MOST IMPORTANT fact behind these figures.

    Namely, failure to par it down via region and allegiance and see WHO lives WHAT.

    And I am sure you will love to hear this, being a Putinite and all, but that demographic recovery?

    That’s mostly from the Muslim areas of the Caucasus. You know, the guys whom you have been fighting a bloody war to control?

    And the population decline? That would mainly be from the heartland, amongst the good, Russian, Putinist, Orthodox, loyal Russians.

    You were SAYING?

    “Dream on, Russophobe rat. Any Chinese or more likely Western invasion will be mercilessly repelled by nuclear weapons.”

    At which point the invader would mercilessly retaliate. And this is assuming that EMP or other sabotage to eliminate the striking capacity was not made prior to the assault.

    And this is also ignoring the fact that in the end, it comes down to conventional fighting, which the West and Chinese both have advantages in (the former from tech, the latter from numbers).

    And you are ALSO forgetting the fact that the Chinese and to a lesser extent the Mongolians now have small settlements-in-all-but-name throughout Siberia without even a shot fired, ja?

    “To the contrast, Stalin was Russia’s greatest leader who led it to unprecedented heights.”

    A. How do you define “great?”

    B. Is that mutually exclusive with what he said?

    C. Do you mean Russia the banner, Russia the nation, or Russia the people?

    “What a despicable reptile, putting in that meaningless comment just to appease the PC requirement.”

    Yes. I agree that he shouldn’t have included Solhenitsyn in there, and he is forgetting the brave efforts of men such as Kasparov against the Kremlin.

    “I hope that if it ever does experience demise, it will take out the entire world with it – with nuclear fire.”

    Given the shape of Russia’s military and its nuclear arsenal, good bloody luck with that.

  5. President Obama has adopted a policy of re-set with Russia.

    I would like to advice the president of the world’s only great super power to be cautious, why give unnecessary ground to a nation that is wholly undemocratic, vicious and corrupt.
    Britain has offered no such re-set we know the poisonous Russian soul we have a 3 hundred year history of rivalry and conflict. We know they cannot be trusted only contained.

    To be honest the Kremlin is laughing at Obama to them Christmas has come early. They see his unnessacary generosity as weakness and will exploit this. They will seek more concessions which will lead to the USA loosing the trust of its historic partners and new friends in eastern and central Europe.

    Please Mr President when dealing with Russia let your partners and great friends in Britain be your guide before you course irreparable damage.

  6. Mr KGB Comrade tells us this
    Stalin was Russia’s greatest leader who led it to unprecedented heights.

    Now you might think these are the frothing at the mouth ramblings of a lunatic, and of course you would be right. Obviously as an individual we can all ignore our deluded friend, but did you know that in a poll recently conducted Stalin was voted Russia’s 3rd most popular historical figure.

    So please be aware when you read Mr. KGB Comrades hate filled rhetoric these are not the views of just a few crazed individuals but are common views held by a significant number within Russia. And Mr. Putin is their flag carrier their rallying point. And the reason we must always remain vigilant, these are people who dream of world domination and the fall of our free world. We cannot trust negotiate or reason with these people, they only respect those that are stronger than them, and we must use our collective strength to contain them.

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