Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Stalin's Legacy Still Haunts Russia

Since writing a book on Stalin's Russia(way back in the seventies) I have always had a horrified fascination with how that monster ran his country. The show trials, for example, in the thirties, displayed a procession of dedicated old Bolsheviks standing up in court and admitting to plotting to kill Stalin or being in the pay of foreign security services. It was all rubbish, of course, but credulous fellow travellers in the west believed them: in researching my book I met a few, including the brilliant QC, later independent MP, DN Pritt who thought the trials were perfectly genuine.

The killing of Anna Politskovskaya, a brave and talented journalist who campaigned against Putin's conduct of the war in Chechenya, was one of the most depressing 'Stalinist' things to come out of Russia in recent years. Like Veronica Guerin, who annoyed Dublin gangsters, Anna annoyed some equally ruthless people. They possibly included the present security services or possibly Putin himself but the money now appears to be on the pro-Russian Chechen government.

We hear that 10 people have now been arrested for her murder but the chief prosecutor, Yuri Chaika, has flatly stated that:'The person who ordered the killing is abroad.' This is fairly clear code for Boris Beresovsky, the oligarch who fled to Britain after falling out with Putin and whose closeness to Litvinenko, is thought to have provided a motive for the latter's ingenious execution. So it's all a conspiracy fomented by Boris or MI5 and the CIA.

What further confirmation do we need to conclude that under Putin, Russia has lurched back half a century in political methodology? And those ten arrestees? I'd not be surprised if they turned out to be people whom the government suspects of not being exactly 100% loyal to the man with the well toned torso who now sits in the seat originally occupied by the brooding, paranoid Uncle Joe.

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