Normalising Russia 194

There has been surprisingly little coverage of almost three hundred arrests yesterday of protestors across Russia demonstrating against Putin on his birthday. While the evidence so far is that demonstrations were not suppressed with the same level of brutal thuggery as witnessed in Spain, many more arrests were made which will have long term consequences for protestors.

I fear the reason it was not covered much is that it is unsurprising. We have become habituated to the idea that democracy has not really taken root in Russia, and probably will not. But Putin’s continued domination of Russian politics, his playing of the system to avoid the restriction on number of terms, the elimination of the opposition media and the gradual but relentless tightening of the limits of free expression, are not inevitable.

Children of the Cold War like myself were brought up to view Russia as isolated, threatening and entirely irrelevant to contemporary European culture. That of course is wrong. Russian writers, thinkers, scientists and composers are central to the very fabric of European civilisation. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov are as central to our thought as Tchaikovsky is to our emotion.

The end of the Cold War promised to reunite Europe’s great cultural traditions. The neo-imperial ambition of the western powers, and their remorseless pursuit of the neoliberal agenda, has since again isolated Russia from the West, despite the fact that very many (myself included) have been very thankful to Putin for redressing the balance of Western foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, where the USA’s Saudi driven support for Sunni jihadists is barking mad.

One result of the neoliberal fury at Putin’s great effectiveness at frustrating their international designs, has been the McCarthy like anti-Russian phobia sweeping the USA. Today is exactly one year since the FBI announced it was investigating Russian “hacking” allegedly to damage neoliberal idol Hillary, and in that twelve months the one thing that is clear is that there is not one single solid bit of evidence to back it up. It is perfectly possible both to recognise that Trump is a disaster, and to understand that the Trump/Russia scandal is the biggest Fake News of all.

But none of that must blind us to the very real democratic deficit in Russia, and the very real failures in Russian democracy, which is going backwards not forwards. Nor must it blind us to the very nasty anti-Muslim and anti-refugee subtext to Russian nationalism, which explains some of the strange preferences of Russian media in the West. Those arrests of demonstrators yesterday ought not have happened. Russia can be better than this.


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194 thoughts on “Normalising Russia

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  • Robyn

    Stephen Lendman (7 October 2017) has a different perspective. He reports that Putin’s opposition candidate, Alexey Navalny, is funded by the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (which is another US front for funding the overthrow of governments they don’t like).

    • Walter Cairns

      Exactly – in the same way that Western-paid agitators started the mayhem at the Maidan in the Ukraine and thus sparked off the fascist coup d’état that overthrew the democratically-elected Yanukovich government.

  • b

    1. Anyone who stands to demonstrate for Navalny, a racist rightwing nutjob, has nothing to do with democracy.
    2. Lots of “western” correspondents were hanging around yesterday’s protest of a few hundred people in 12 million people strong Moscow (and elsewhere)
    3. Having the NYT report as well as dozens others is “surprisingly little coverage”? For a mini-mini-demo?
    4. All detained yesterday for their illegal protest were released today
    5. Craig, the quality of your posts has gone down considerably.

    • Jon

      B, you seem irritated at criticism of Russia, and you seem to be at pains to opine that the demonstration is not worth our attention and that the Russian authorities processed the protesters quickly. You evidently have an angle on this – what is it?

      What is your view about the freedom with which people can protest in Russia? Do you have any views on journalists who are shot dead in the course of their work? What criticisms would you make of Russia, given that all nation states do things that warrant criticism?

      • graph

        I think (s)he is irritated by the hypocrisy, the double standards and the agenda behind such cheap anti Russia crap craig has decided to join in and peddle. Most here would have thought he was above such simplistic propaganda. There was a large anti Trump protest march at Chump Towers, New York yesterday. Craig doesn’t feel the need to theorize why that wasn’t broadcast around the globe. This is probably the first time he heard of said protest.

        Maybe you could address the following –

        What is your view about the freedom with which people can protest in Britain? Do you have any views on politicians who are shot dead in the course of their work? What criticisms would you make of Britain, given that all nation states do things that warrant criticism?

        You evidently have an angle on this – what is it?

        • Jon

          That’s just the point, Graph – I don’t have a agenda to hide. I criticise nation states equally, or at least I try to, whilst trying to exercise awareness of subconscious biases I might hold. In fact, Craig makes the point explicitly that Putin can be praised in limited terms for standing against American imperialism, and simultaneously condemned for holding back the development of a genuine Russian democracy. It is that even-handedness that free thinkers ought to be exercising.

          What is the purpose in your asking my questions back to me? I have no trouble answering them, if I can develop some confidence that you’re not wasting my time. I am a frequent critic of Britain, and nothing I have said above ought to convince you otherwise. Indeed, Britain as part of the “special relationship” frequently could exercise a staying hand on US/Israeli warmongering but chooses not to, in order to obtain some short-term strategic benefit. Where does one start? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Diago Garcia? Palestine? The amount of arms pumped out to the wider detriment of the world, with R&D paid for by the British taxpayer? The stupidity and cruelty of paying billions for Trident when the Queen’s impoverished subjects burn in cheaply constructed social-housing tower blocks?

          As for the freedom to protest in Britain, it is surely under neoliberal attack. However, I would much rather be arrested on a British demonstration than a Russian one, since our journalists are not yet killed for their investigatory work, and broadly our police force are not corrupt. Freedom of speech is under assault undoubtedly, as the Assange case shows, and indeed as Craig’s own libel experience is highlighting. But I think if we have to have a discussion about whether the rule of law in the two countries are remotely comparable, then a discussion might be fruitless.

    • Peter Adams

      well said b.

      Navalny is a paid agitator – the more furore he can whip up, the more arrests (and the more the western press report on it) the better for him and his American masters.

      If Putin really was this murderous tyrant he’s cracked up to be Navalny would not be breathing.

      I don’t think Craig Murray realises that Navalny works for the US.

  • John A

    Putin has made life so much better for the vast majority of the Russian population since the days of Yeltsin and the Harvard conmen carpet baggers came to destroy the country. The neocons want to go back to the Yeltsin days of pillaging the vast resources of Russia.
    The Russians are aware of the US modus operandi of colour revolutions and investing in coups, successful and less successful around the world to get rid of anyone not prepared to roll over for the US. Navalny has very little support amongst average Russians but the western propaganda spewing media will grab any straw to paint Putin as some evil, corrupt mass murderer etc. etc. by leveraging his name.
    The US invaded Russia after the Bolshevik revolution, Churchill wanted to invade the Soviet Union at the end of WW2. Part of the agreement for German reunification was that NATO would not expand eastwards. Another promise broken by the US.
    Europe would be a far happier and safer place if we dissolved NATO, kicked out all the US bases and went back to normal trading relations with Russia, Iran etc. Russia has no desire to ‘conquer’ Europe, nor did it invade Ukraine or Georgia or annex Crimea. All msm lies.
    But as long as EU politicians are owned by the US, Europe will remain a colony of the US.

    • Lea

      Well said …..we have a global Mafia running us shadow government Kennedy tried to eliminate.

    • SA

      Yes indeed my very thoughts. There is always a history and a context. The fact that the West had a free run to despoil Russia during the Yeltsin years, the numerous ‘colour’ revolutions in post USSR East europe, the last of which was the ‘peaceful’ maidan protests complete with hired snipers, the constant demonisation of Russia in the last 5 years, will certainly not promote democratic opening up in Russia but a retrenchment. I find that a lot of those who criticise countries outside the west as non democratic, do so in a rather patronising and simplistic manner. Democracy can never be imported, forced or bought ready made. It is something that has to develop and nurtured slowly with a careful education of populations. That is why it is naive to expect that the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria and others will lead to a rosy democracy, it is either naive or disingenuous to think that this would happen.

  • nevermind

    No need to mention Navalny, arrested so he could not speak to the demonstrators/say ‘happy birthday Vlad’.
    If the EU is so desperate to overrule its voters, (Dutch voters rejected the advances of Ukraine towards the EU and visa versa) and support fascists in the Ukraine, then it is only legitimate to remind them that Russia is part Europe as much as Ukraine or Belarus…

  • godfree Roberts

    “Those arrests of demonstrators yesterday ought not have happened,” unless, of course, they both illegal under relevant statutes and were funded and led by American-trained and sponsored traitors–in which case they were justified and even necessary.

    Russia is in peril. The United States is preparing a first strike nuclear attack. To ignore internal sedition is to court disaster, particularly given Dr. Putin’s extraordinary contribution to Russia’s survival:

  • craig Post author

    A whole plethora of comments all of which amount to “The Leader is good, therefore it is wrong to demonstrate against him”.
    Reinforced by “All of those who disagree with the Leader are foreign agents and ought to be arrested”.
    And you don’t even realise you are fascists.

    • Lea

      What is fascism? Why is not allowing foreigners to destroy your peace is fascism?
      CIA was arming Chechenia why? Putin asked answer was Because we can.
      Enough tiranny in USA from beginning of the country to now we can fill 5 volumes
      Pollution of water and soil kills citizen .Vaccination have killed children
      Refuse to allow new cures for cancer. And so on.
      Shadow government in US worst dictator in world.

    • nevermind

      So there are seven racists comments above yours?
      ffs go and have a few in the ten bells/take the blue pills.

    • Walter Cairns

      Oh dear, that didn’t take long did it – it was only a matter of time before the “f” word was pressed into service. My dear Craig, the real Fascists are those western paid agitators who, as they did in the Ukraine and are now doing in Syria, try to overthrow democracy to suit their globalist agenda.

    • Peter Adams

      Craig do you deny that Navalny is a foreign agent?

      Straight question Y/N (answer, and I will clue you in – he most certainly is)

      Simply calling people “fascist” for pointing out this simple truth makes you an objectionable arse as well as badly uninformed

      Then again anyone who voted for Brexit is “racist”, right?

  • freddy

    I understood that the majority of voters of Crimea, willingly wanted to be re-united with Russia,
    that must have known that Putin was in charge of Russia,
    so him being in charge, did not put them off.

    • Walter Cairns

      In fact Crimea had only been ceded to the Ukraine in 1954 when it was still part of the Soviet Union. Crimeans, who are 90 per cent of Russian ethnicity, were naturally a tad concerned about their future once the Yanukovich government was overthrown in coup d’état, particularly when some of the new rulers such as Yulia Tymoshenko started making playful comments about “killing Russians”.

  • Republicofscotland

    Unsurprisingly the BBC’s World Service ran with the demo last night.

    I am however pleased you added that last paragraph, it adds balance, for Russia, although a bulwark against westen neoliberalism and the Industrial military Complex machine, at times, is in my opinion still a fair bit away from being a fair and democratic society.

    Russia can never be welcomed back into the European fold, for the globalist, capitalist warmongerers, who make huge profits from portraying Russia as the bogeyman, will not let that happen.

  • Lea

    I’d normal is western democracy EU dictators and false flag everywhere I prefer Russia . Putin defending his country from CIA corruption who was a provider of weapons to Chechenia .he asked why they did it answer was because we can.
    We are run by a shadow government in US even president does no have all info or power over them.
    I prefer a quasi dictator in open air then one acting in the dark.
    Putin protects his country because he cares . In the west all politicos interest is to get wealthy at our expense.
    By the way our constitution is suspended and Patriot act is equivalent to a dictatorship .
    So tank God for Putin for saving Syria from being another IRAq or Lybia.
    The real crooks are in western emisphere .

    • Salford Lad

      The United States is an Empire, enforced by its massive military and Intelligence/security machine and propped up by the extraordinary privilege of its Dollar being the World Reserve Currency.
      Any country which seeks to escape the clutches of its dominance is in the cross-hairs for annihilation. Relatively recently we have had the destruction of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya,Afghanistan,Somalia ,Yemen etc.This is nothing new.
      The US seized the lands of the Indigenous American Indians and genocided the tribes, breaking many treaties.
      The Mexican/american Wars of 1848 resulted in the seizure of large parts of what was Spanish Mexico. Texas,Nevada,California and more. The Empire is voracious and expanded overseas in 1898 with the seizure of Cuba and the Phillipines during the Spanish American War., until ejected by the Japanese in ’42.
      The Korean War in ’50-53 was another attempt to subjugate and loot. Despite bombing N.Korea flat and exterminating approx 20% of the population ,they were unsuccessful. The sole reason the North Koreans developed Nuclear weapons is to protect themselves against the same fate as Milosevic, Saddam and Ghadaffi. A psychopathic bully only understands strength.
      The United States is at War with Russia, using proxy armies as formerly with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Jihadists in Chechnia, Dagestan, and Kosova. Not to forget the decimation of Vietnam and the millions murdered in that brutality.
      The Jihadists were used in Libya and transferred with weapons to Syria under the ISIS brand to reprise another Colour revolution against Assad.
      Not to forget the neo-nazi thugs who were financed and trained by the US and NATO and used as shock troops against the democratically elected President Yanukovich during the Maidan Coup
      Russia is a young democracy and has many problems to resolve after the Economic collapse of the Yeltsin years and predatory looting by the Wall St vulture funds led by Bill Browder of the Heritage Fund . In Vladimir Putin they have the pre-eminent statesman of our era.
      Russia is well aware it is under attack ,militarily by proxies, information/propaganda wise and economically with sanctions and pipeline disruptions.
      The Colour Revolution hybrid strategy is well known at this stage and Russia will nip any street demonstrations in the bud and ban Western financed NGO’s who create them.
      A Maidan uprising will not be allowed. This template was evident in Catalunya last week and the agenda there is not yet clear.
      Washington unilaterally abrogated the ABM nuclear weapon treaty under GW Bush, which allows them a ‘first nuclear strike option. The world has never been closer to destruction as in these times.
      The Empire is in decline , Russia and China are attempting to control this in an orderly fashion but are up against a psychopathic clique of neo-cons ,who would likely rather take the Sampson option than give up their privileges.

      • joel

        Yes, DC psychos would rather see the earth destroyed by nuclear holocaust than live to see their hegemony ended by China. The blackened skull of J McCain recovered from the nuclear ash ten centuries later bearing a sick, satisfied grin.

  • Felicity Arbuthnot.

    You write: “But none of that must blind us to the very real democratic deficit in Russia, and the very real failures in Russian democracy, which is going backwards not forwards. Nor must it blind us to the very nasty anti-Muslim and anti-refugee subtext to Russian nationalism …”

    Does this not exactly describe the UK under Mrs May-hem and top “diplomat” Boris and the US under Trump? Do the US-UK cabal have any right to criticise any nation for “democratic deficits” and as for “anti-Muslim and anti-refugee subtext”, the racist horror being perpetrated in both countries is shaming and cringeworthy. And never forget Trump’s mega wall. Time to stop naval gazing and do a bit of clinical assessment of where Western democracy is at. Hypocrisy rules it would seem.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Are you the reporter, Felicity Arbuthnot?

      Thanks for gracing us with your presence, if so.

      Or even if not…


    • craig Post author

      That is pathetic, Felicity. Whether Boris Johnson has the moral standing to criticise Vladimir Putin is not of relevance. I have not mentioned Boris Johnson, nor do I support him, or May, or Trump, or any of the other people you mention. And I spend a much greater proportion of my time criticising the West than criticising Russia.
      But to state that because the West is bad, therefore Putin may not be criticised, is a non-sequitur. Worship of Putin is the resort of the feeble-minded who are not brave enough to exist without feeling they are aligned with a rival centre of power, having rejected (rightly) the authorities of their own society.
      Free speech is meaningless if it is only extended to those you agree with. Because you think Putin right does not mean people ought not to be allowed to demonstrate against him. It makes no difference what the State Department is doing or what Soros is funding. People have a right to express their opposition to their government, everywhere, if they want to. It is not for you, or me, or Putin to say if they are right or wrong. They have the right to free expression and assembly. The routine denial of those rights in Russia is a problem for anyone who does not support totalitarianism.

      • K Crosby

        If your criticism was even handed, you would have a point but every time you condemn Russia with examples, they are the same as in Britain. The Russian filth aren’t filth because they’re Russian, they’re filth because they’re filth; it’s what filth are for.

    • Kempe

      Craig’s right. It is pathetic; but the argument that we cannot criticise Russia because the US or Israel or the UK is worse is frequently wheeled out here. It would only be hypocritical if Craig were somehow responsible but he isn’t and is regularly critical of the state of affairs in the west.

      The mass arrests were covered by the MSM in this country; it’s the likes of RT and Sputnik News that have remained strangely silent.

      • Republicofscotland

        For once I find myself agreeing with you, it’s a rather strange feeling. ?

        As much as I prattle on about the machinations of the west, and their complicity, in conflicts around the globe.

        We tend to forget that Russia, after WWII, blatantly in most case invaded several Eastern European nations by force, including Poland and Hungary, the latter,where tanks rolled into Budapest on October 1956, to quash a rebellion, against a Soviet satellite government.

        History often repeats itself, and early next week we may see Spanish military vehicles roll into Catalonia, to quell a similar unrest.

        As for Poland if memory serves me, Lech Walesa, became the first directly erected Polish leader in 1990.

        • Walter Cairns

          It wasn’t “Russia” that invaded the Eastern European nations after 1945 – it was the Soviet Union, a totally different animal. Its main protagonists and despots were not Russian. Solzhenitsin constantly reminded us that those who took control of Russia in the 1920s/30s actually despised Russia and Russians for their peasant ethic and religious affiliation.

  • Stefen D

    Having been to Russia numerous times as my wife is Russian, the police there if you can call them that are just uninformed thugs and badly paid and use people as a means to supplement their wages, such are harassing motorists or people that look good for money, they are also flexible as regards bribes and to be fair they will beat up gay men for free.

  • graph

    Would 24/7 wall to wall hysteria across ‘news’/entertainment channels be more to your liking, Sir?

    You lament growing up during a period of anti Russian hysteria as a child but would like a return to the same sensationalist nonsense being drip fed into the minds of ‘young’ impressionable minds today. ‘300 protesters arrested across Russia; oh the humanity’. How Odd.

    The UK – Protest tuition fees, get kettled. Protest a Saudi or Chinese state visit, get kettled. Protest the arms Industry, get kettled. Protest austerity, get kettled. Protest police violence, get kettled.

    THe only difference in response to protests here and there is the UK doesn’t want to foot the bill for jailing folk (until G4S has fully privatises the industry)

    The US – Protest for equal rights, get locked up or shot.

    ”We have become habituated to the idea that democracy has not really taken root in Russia, and probably will not.”

    What fucking garbage. Russia has the same standard of democracy as ”the West”. Vote rigging, corruption, unaccountability. Ask Mr Heaths alleged victims or the polices ‘investigation’ into Tory election fraud.

    Merkel has been on the throne in Germany for 12+ years now. Junker governed Lux for 19 years. Obama would have secured another term had the ‘democratic system’ not barred him from doing so. Even better Sanders would have walked it barring the naked corruption inshrined in the US system. What is the limit for UK PM’s?

    I won’t even waste my time addressing your complaint against the Russian press. The standards of Western ‘free press’ – Its a complete fucking joke in any rational persons book.

    Lets not go down that long lazy road of ‘our shit don’t stink’. It brings out the worst in folk, particularly folk with an ax to grind.

    This anti Russia, anti China, the west is always right and just bullshit hysteria being fed into peoples minds recently needs to be halted asap. Its the faint sound of war drums and those beating the drum will never come close to being impacted by the carnage they unleash.

    Did you find it easier on the mind for you to post this ‘Putin boogieman’ story over something positive about Russia that you seem to long for above? Lazy if so.

    • graph

      Opens with ‘Normalising Russia’ as if there is something abnormal to Russian democracy. ‘Our democracy is far superior to their democracy’. Ends with condescension ‘Russia can be better than this’.

      Filler reads like I stumbled into some bullshit piece on the Guardian. The shambolic double speak guardian – We will always campaign against injustices in the world, while promoting said injustice in exchange for money.

      Between this, your concern for ISIS members being thrown off cliffs and your immediate turn about on support for the EU due to a flair up in Spain you should be concerned.

    • Phil the ex-frog

      Yeah, kettling has long gone. It was deemed illegal by the ECHR five or six years ago. Not that you don’t know what you’re talking about though.

  • joel

    In the aftermath of the Cold War, Russia was raped by wolves who came in the sheep:s clothing of liberal democracy. Putin is no puppet of liberal fundamentalist.hypocrites. He has restored national pride and respect, even unfounded fear abroad. He is by no means an object of revulsion to the majority of Russians.

    Undoubtedly he is corrupt, but even former President Jimmy Carter says that the United States of America is itself now a corporate oligarchy, with unrestricted political bribery, and no longer a functioning democracy.

    Maybe the liberal fundamentalists, history’s biggest hypocrites, should focus their attention at home and just leave Russia be.

  • K Crosby

    Oh dear Craig, on the matter of Russia, you’re as full of shite as the corp-0-rat media. Try comparing the way that the police in Russia behave towards illegal demonstrators with the way that the British filth behave before you cast aspersions.

  • Neil Anderson

    Also noticing, very clearly, the disappearance of all references to ISIL/ISIS/Daesh/Al Quaida/Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. No mention of Al Assad either. Have they all gone on holiday?

  • Radar O’Reilly

    On my last long trip to Russia I found it grey, with a scary corrupt government, they were “striving towards communism”, never quite managed it after their 70-years were-up, mind.

    My take tho’ was that the Russian people were great, friendly, busy with their lives. Much like the rest of the world.

    Watching occasionally now both RT (strangely, not available on Virgin Media massive cable tv system in UK ) perviy kanal , and B.B.C. – guess who I find most often indulging in propaganda there Craig?

    Im sure you have an accurate world view , perhaps you know more about the actual evils of Putin than we do, but you can counterbalance that with the odoriferous color -oh no not again- revolutions that plague global people, children, aunts, grandmothers.

    The leaders of most nations are scum, apparently, unless I’m wrong?

  • Frankie

    I’m old enough to remember 1960’s, 1970’s, era of Gorba and hell of 1990’s. I have lost my faith to western so called “democracy”. I focus China and Russia and even Iran in perspective of nation sovereignty, controlling as much as possible natural resources. Compared to 1985-2000 Putin’s Russia has made surely better decision than US Empire and its western lackeys are suggesting.

    Do we have to talk about British Empire looting its colonies for “democracy” and “freedom”?

  • Shakesvshav

    The oligarchs have been put in their place. On the other hand, as Jimmy Carter himself recently pointed out, the USA is now without doubt ruled by oligarchs. Actually, it seems to me that there has been a covert military coup in the USA. Ex-military men occupy key positions and Trump has given the military a free hand in conflicts abroad.

  • Ruth

    A country under siege as Russia is from the West needs a very strong government. Democracy is very easly undermined by predators.

  • N_

    Somewhere between 350,000 and a million people demonstrate today in the Catalan capital Barcelona against Catalan independence. So all of them had “fascist” Castilian arms up their arses, right?

    Catalonia has a population of 7.5 million, so that’s like between 2.8 million and 8 million demonstrating in London.

  • N_

    A comparison with the West does not justify the conclusion that it’s wrong to criticise the combination of Caesarism and big oligarchic rule in Russia. It’s right to criticise conditions in Russia, and western regimes are shit too.

    But the so-called “opposition” in Russia is a lot of CIA-paid and in some cases ~KGB-paid cack. (Something similar can be said about the “opposition” in Venezuela.)

    As for the Russian rulers’ attitude towards Islam, bear in mind that one in seven Russian citizens is Muslim, and, further, that the resolution in Chechnya – after a lot of people’s lives were either ended or dragged into the muck – has involved a gangster-to-gangster understanding between Russians and Chechens, as expressed in the bromance between Putin and Kadyrov.

    • N_

      Kadyrov even offered to send Chechen forces to Syria to fight on the same side as Russia.

      There needs to be more understanding of what the Russian empire is about.

  • Republicofscotland

    The BBC news giving the Spanish who’ve flooded Barcelona today, from all over Spain , plenty of airtime to broadcast their views.

    The BBC have certainly nailed their colours to
    the mast.

    • SA

      “The BBC have certainly nailed their colours to the mast.”

      I am no fan of the BBC but were they not just reporting events?

      • Republicofscotland

        “I am no fan of the BBC but were they not just reporting events?”


        Yes you may well be correct, it’s difficult though to see anything the BBC broadcasts, as neutral, after years of monitoring their blatant bias agenda.

        • SA

          I know. The BBC has been on the main pro Catalan, or at least have given air time to Catalans. The whole thing however is not black and white and in no way similar to the Scottish independence vote.

          • Republicofscotland

            “The whole thing however is not black and white ”

            In what way do you mean the above statement? The result of the referendum clearly showed an appetite for independence did it not?

            I can’t recall a larger nation willingly, allowing part of its territory to secede, without some sort of campaign, be it violent or propaganda based.

            So the Catalan struggle for self determination, isnt really that extraordinary.

        • SA

          It is not black and white in the sense that it was badly handled by the leaders of both sides and risking a confrontation.
          a properly organised referendum with appropriate safeguards and appropriate independent observers has not been carried out. You can argue that that is because the Spanish government has blocked the referendum but the answer is not to go ahead regardless but to argue your case for it through usual democratic and peaceful channels.
          In this case both sides are wrong but two wrongs do not make a right.

    • N_

      Thank goodness you can post here, eh, having concluded from your politics that the demonstrators must be foreigners who have “flooded” in to pretend they are Catalans? But you were on to them!

      By “Spanish” do you mean “Castilian”? Or since that word hasn’t been used much in any of the media coverage, perhaps I shouldn’t use it?

      Seriously, get a clue.

      Meanwhile, the Scottish Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are not local branches of English parties.

      The word “fascist” is being bandied about a lot, including by people who may know practically nothing about the Spanish civil war, let alone its course in Catalonia. Dismissing your opponents as lacking in national pride or identity, as if they are duped by foreigners, paid by foreigners, or in effect actually foreigners, or in any case as if they are not worthy of the great national identity that you claim for your own movement, is one of the hallmarks of rising fascism.

      • Republicofscotland

        “Thank goodness you can post here, eh, having concluded from your politics that the demonstrators must be foreigners who have “flooded” in to pretend they are Catalans?”

        Well according to the BBC they came from all over Spain, which of course gave the no camp cause to shout, look we are many and we oppose Catalan independence.


        “Meanwhile, the Scottish Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are not local branches of English parties.”

        The branch offices you mention are exactly that, they’re not registered as separate entities with the Electoral Commission.

        Their behaviour at Holyrood, only confirms that they’re Westminster mouthpieces.

  • Justin Glyn

    While I agree with the broad thrust of the piece, especially that Putin (despite his balancing role in the Middle East) is in no way a democrat, I would like to suggest that the position of Russia is more or less where most traditional “democracies” are headed – states with elections but where all the options get you much the same result, a corporately controlled state where the military and intelligence services hold the whip hand and the people have little, if any, meaningful say over government.

    That said, while there is an ethnic bigotry to much Russian nationalism, if any Russian politician is guilty of it, it seems to be more Navalny (with his sometimes intemperate comments on the Caucasus) than Putin. Putin has (for political reasons, no doubt) cultivated some Muslim leaders and there seems to be considerable evidence that he regards non-Islamist Muslim forces as a force for traditional values and stability (in much the same way as he does the Russian Orthodox Church). There is a good article on this by Paul Saunders here:

    None of this, of course, suggests that detaining demonstrators is a good idea (common though it is becoming around the world). I agree wholeheartedly with Craig that Russia’s human rights record leaves much to be desired. Sometimes, though, I get the sense that Western commentary on Russia conflates the country with its leader. Vladimir Putin has indeed dominated the landscape (arguably putting together the shattered bits of the Yeltsin years) and seems to enjoy genuine popular support (around 80% on most counts) but he is certainly not the only game in town. It is undoubtedly true that he is far more popular than most of the rest of government (national or local). Ironically, if he were ousted (whether by “colour revolution” or palace coup or even by democratic election), the newly ascendant leader would, I suspect, be unlikely to be Navalny (who enjoys around 1% support). Instead, Putin’s replacement would, in a genuinely free election, be likely to be either an old-style Communist or even someone who really is an ethnic nationalist. In either case, the new leader would likely be even less to Western tastes than the current one.

    • SA

      Given that in the first place, the first attempt at democracy in Russia under the aegis of new world order neoliberalists led to plunder of Russian resources and rule of mafia oligarchs, followed by, in the second place, a constant demonisation of Russia and Putin personally, it is not surprising that Russian democracy has stalled. It does not seem to cross the mind of certain people that democracy is not something that can be imported, foisted or forced, it has to be slowly and carefully tended and helped by not being constantly sniped at for not being perfectly formed at birth. As you said the alternative to Putin to rule in Russia is the communist party and not the insignificant Navalny.

  • Stu

    Dozens of people were arrested ahead of the royal wedding in the UK just in case they protested. We are in position to criticise Russia.

    For as long as the USA supports the Russian opposition they won’t make any democratic progress.

  • Chometha

    What amuses me about Russia coverage is that it entirely ignores the second most popular party, the communists.

    They have publicly called Putin an embrassment and other things and have yet to be punished, or murdered as the media would have us believe would happen to someone making such utterances.

    They are rarely ever mentioned.

    All support is thrown behind Navalny, a nationalist who won’t return Crimea, and who wanted to deport all Georgians.

    Top stuff.

  • Macky

    [Mod: Bevin is unbanned, if he wishes to return.]

    “Free speech is meaningless if it is only extended to those you agree with. ”

    LOL ! Does this mean that Bevin is now unbanned ?

    I guess it’s conceivable that given time, your anti-Putin Cold War blinkers will fall-off as they did iro of your opinion of the EU, but until then I’ll keep enjoying the plastering (esp on Twitter) you keep raining down upon yourself when you post rubbish like this.

    • Macky

      “[Mod: Bevin is unbanned, if he wishes to return.]”

      Best thing I’ve read on here since Craig’s EU U-turn ! 😀

  • Clydebuilt

    Right now Stuart and Tam BBC radio . . . Are doing their best to turn Scots against Gordon Strachan. . . I can’t think of a non swear word to describe these two PUKES.

    When the anthems were being played , Richard Gordon talked over the entirety of “Flower of Scotland” immediately followed by the Slovenian anthem when he was silent.

  • Nasir Ali

    What you don’t seem to take into account is the part played by the US in the actions of the opposition in Russia like everywhere else in the world.
    I am not defending Putin but we have to keep in mind the CIA and the rest of the American NGOs trying to get rid of Putin.
    With all his faults, Putin appears to be all there is between the US and their domination of the world.

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