Tag Archives: Russia

Russia/Ukraine: is Putin ill – or is the claim just propaganda?

Vladimir Putin: has he been treated for pancreatic cancer? Does he have other conditions? If not, someone may suffer as a result of the claim being made.

Are you willing to believe this?

According to US intelligence sources, Russian president Vladimir Putin received treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in April.

They say his health conditions means that while his grip on the Kremlin remains strong, he does not enjoy the absolute power he used to have.

But is it proven, or is it propaganda?

The effect of reports like this is to provoke close examination of every public appearance by the Russian leader, in an attempt to prove or disprove the claim.

His lieutenants and rivals may start manoeuvring for a chance at power themselves whenever it seems Putin’s grip is slipping.

And the overall effect is that less attention is paid to other matters, such as the war in Ukraine. A more moderate future leader may even call off the whole reprehensible endeavour.

Here’s the problem: if I can see this, so can Vladimir Putin. And if the rumour isn’t true, then he’ll react violently.

So these American intelligencers had better have cast-iron evidence to support their claim – otherwise they may be bringing down even worse suffering on the people of Ukraine.

The Russian president has received treatment for advanced cancer and was targeted in an assassination attempt, three intelligence sources have told Newsweek

Source: Putin treated for advanced cancer and survived assassination attempt, US intelligence reports

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How is foreign access to MPs the NEXT big scandal when they’ve had Boris Johnson for years?

Bosom buddies: Boris Johnson with Russian industrialist Alexander Temerko, who allegedly has very close links with the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to BBC News, the next big scandal to sweep Boris Johnson’s sleaze-ridden Parliament is likely to be one of hostile states buying access to MPs and Lords.

But we already know that Russia has had access to Johnson himself since long before he became prime minister!

The BBC report says All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are vulnerable to “improper lobbying” by foreign actors, quoting the case of Christine Lee, of the Chinese Communist Party, who helped set up the Chinese in Britain APPG.

It also says she made donations to Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. Let’s have a bit of balance:

Political influence: Christine Lee has been donating money to the Conservatives for many years, and has been seen with David Cameron (pictured), Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

This Writer considers the report to be a sign of bias against those parties by the BBC, as the report makes no mention of the massive influence exerted over the Conservative Party – through its leader – by Russia.

And the Russians have never needed APPGs to wield this power – they just went straight to Tory MPs.

Let’s remind ourselves of the UK government’s Russian connections. Consider this:

The so-called ‘Russia Report’, released in July 2020 after being delayed by Johnson for more than nine months so it would not harm his chances in the 2019 general election, defined Russian influence over UK politics as “the new normal” – at least while Tories like Johnson are in charge.

It said successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

This has led, the report states, to the growth of an industry of “enablers” who are “de facto agents of the Russian state”. The report does not explicitly state that these enablers include Conservative government politicians, but its assertion that Russia had access to “the highest levels” of political figures certainly suggests that this is the case.

Johnson himself was considered a security risk by the UK’s national security services while he was Foreign Secretary – and with good reason.

Remember the time he went to a party to meet a former KGB agent, Alexander Lebedev, days after attending a Nato summit on Russia?

Who knows what secrets may have emerged from this tactless and indiscreet fool’s flapping gums?

That’s just one incident that is known to us. How many more have there been?

How about this?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has definitely taken donations from people linked to Russia’s President Putin – and provided private meetings with the last three UK prime ministers in return.

The money totalling £1.7 million came from Vladimir Chernukhin via his wife Lubov, according to the so-called FinCEN files – leaked “suspicious activity reports” by banks.

And a lot of information came out when Johnson’s government dragged its heels about imposing sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine war:

Public opinion is that the Tories have been slow to act because they have taken a fortune in donations from Russians – and they want to know what these UK politicians were asked to do in return for that – as they understand it – dirty money.

Rather than respond to that question, the government seems to have chosen to leave it hanging in the air – trying to divert attention to what it is doing now:

Apparently a minister (was it Hinds?) said that Unexplained Wealth Orders were introduced years ago to allow the government to confiscate assets from people suspected of wrongdoing – and it is widely believed that much of the Russian cash flowing around the UK – and British politics – is ill-gotten. But this just provoked another hard question – and embarrassing answer:

So, Unexplained Wealth Orders have been an unqualified failure – were they mentioned merely to provide an appearance of activity when none has taken place?

Meanwhile:

It was Boris Johnson’s old friend Lubov Chernukhin. She donated £13,750 in October and £66,500 in December, just months before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. In total she has handed £2 million to the Tories.

And what do you think of this?

The analysis – which includes many legitimate companies – suggests that thousands of firms listed on the UK’s business register are controlled by Russian nationals who live in the country, with some linked to Putin’s allies.

The final example of Russian influence in the UK, that I’ll include in this article, is something I heard on Radio 4’s Today programme on March 3:

The presenter – I think it was Evan Davis – said it had been suggested that properties like Sutton Place could be seized and used to house displaced Ukrainians. He expressed deep scepticism that the Tory government would ever have the courage to make such a move.

The Tories have only just announced that they’re postponing publication of any revelations of how Evgeny Lebedev – son of the former Russian spy Alexander who Boris Johnson was reported to have met (above) – was made a UK Lord despite deep reservations by the security services. Because the revelations will be damning and they don’t want to mess up their chances in the local elections?

And yet those Tory stooges at BBC News want you to think APPGs, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are the security risk.

Firm connected to Rishi Sunak’s wife is closing Russia office. Lucky escape, Chancellor!

Rishi Sunak: his government has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, but he had continued to benefit indirectly from his wife’s shares in Infosys, which has an office in Russia. Now that office is to close.

Technology firm Infosys, in which Rishi Sunak’s wife owns shares worth an alleged £400 million, is closing its office in Russia after the Tory Chancellor suffered sustained criticism.

Sunak had tried to claim that it was his wife Akshata Murthy who had been attacked for having a connection with the firm and compared himself to Hollywood actor Will Smith, who slapped comedian Chris Rock for a joke at his own wife’s expense during the Academy Awards ceremony a few days ago.

But it seems nobody was convinced. They were angry with Sunak because, as a member of a government that has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, he should not have anything to do with such firms.

Because his wife had shares in Infosys, Sunak was indirectly profiting from a connection he should not have.

His decision to hide behind Ms Murthy was disgraceful.

But now, after refusing to take any action to resolve the issue, it seems he has been saved by Infosys itself.

What a lucky escape for him.

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Rishi Sunak’s claim to be defending his wife is false; it’s HE who’s under attack

Rishi Sunak: he wants you to think people have been attacking his wife for her connections with Russia. But he’s the member of the government that sanctions such connections; why is he indirectly continuing to benefit from them?

Who does Rishi Sunak think he is, comparing himself to Will Smith, talking about defending his wife?

In case you missed it, Sunak was interviewed by the BBC’s Newscast and tried to equate himself with the Hollywood actor:

“Someone said, ‘Joe Root, Will Smith, and me – not the best of weekends for any of us’. But I feel, on reflection, both Will Smith and me having our wives attacked – at least I didn’t get up and slap anybody, which is good.”

But he’s wrong; nobody was attacking his wife. Akshata Murthy can do whatever she wants.

But as a member of a government that has sanctioned firms that operate in, and profit from, connections with Russia, Sunak shouldn’t have anything to do with such firms.

His wife has shares in one such firm.

Therefore – indirectly – Sunak is profiting from a connection that he should not have.

That is the reason for the criticism.

It is hypocritical of him to say that other people’s connections to Russia should be cut while maintaining such a connection himself, even if it is only through his wife.

And it is disgraceful for him to hide behind her in the way he has.

Source: Rishi Sunak likens himself to Will Smith in defence of his wife | Rishi Sunak | The Guardian

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Russia-Ukraine peace talks shift to sovereignty and territorial integrity

Not talking yet: but a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war between those two countries is edging closer.

Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will shift onto subjects of “sovereignty and territorial integrity” after apparent agreement was reached over membership of Nato and nuclear weapons.

It seems the talks will focus on the future of the breakaway Donbas region and ownership of the Crimean peninsula.

According to Sky News,

Russia has claimed its main focus has shifted to taking control of the eastern Donbas region, an apparent pullback from its initial more ambitious goals, but one which is raising fears of a divided Ukraine.

This Writer still cannot see Ukraine accepting that in any way. A split Donbas region won’t solve the problems there.

A better alternative would be to hold referenda among the people there, allowing them to decide whether to be Ukrainian, Russian or independent.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn’t averse to referenda; he has signalled willingness to ask his people whether to declare neutrality and stay out of Nato, in a significant step forward towards peace.

Source: Ukraine willing to consider declaring neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia – Zelenskyy

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Sunak’s link to firm operating in Russia raises ‘double-standards’ issues

Sunak: while he’s been in Parliament saying businesses should divest themselves of involvement in Russia, his wife has been accepting share dividends from one that has chosen not to.

Let’s see if we can get this straight: as part of the UK government, Rishi Sunak has supported sanctions against Russian business interests in the UK – but his family has £400m worth of shares in a firm operating in Russia.

And he’s perfectly happy to have that connection?

That’s a bit – no, a lot – hypocritical, isn’t it? Not to say greedy?

As a government, he’s saying he doesn’t want Russian businesses to take money from the UK, but as a person, he’s saying he wants to benefit from his wife’s business interest taking money from Russia.

Downing Street is right to say this is a “personal issue for the Chancellor”; the attitude chosen by the government is right (or would be, if these sanctions had set to bite immediately they were announced, rather than a month later) and this is a matter for his conscience – and that of his wife, who owns the shares.

Apparently a Sunak spokesperson has said all is well because neither his wife nor any members of her family “have any involvement in the operational decisions of the company”. But they’re still taking money, aren’t they?

The firm itself – Infosys – says its presence in Russia is to service global clients locally, has no active business interests with Russian enterprises, and supports peace between Russia and Ukraine.

But that doesn’t matter.

As Labour’s Louise Haigh put it, “The chancellor has explicitly called on business to divest from Russia in order to inflict economic pain and ensure that the sanctions are as deeply felt as possible.”

And now we find that he wants every business to do that – apart from his wife’s.

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Boris Johnson accused – again – of being a national security risk

Bunga bunga? Boris Johnson – at a party – with a Russian oligarch (this one is industrialist Alexander Temerko). At the time, Johnson didn’t think there was any reason to investigate Russian influence in UK politics. Now, he simply won’t answer questions about these associations.

Here’s a welcome humorous interlude before we all try to get to grips with Rishi Sunak’s rubbish spring statement.

After Labour’s Matt Western scored a hit last week, asking what attracted Boris Johnson to billionaire Russian oligarchs, he returned to ask why MI6 considers Johnson such a security risk.

The prime ministers response was… well, see for yourself. It wasn’t an answer!

Given their shared experience, Israeli politicians’ treatment of Zelenskyy is shocking

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: given his shared experience with members of the Israeli Knesset – losing members of their families to the Nazi Holocaust – their reaction to him is shockingly hypocritical.

How many layers of meaning do we have to peel away to understand the disdain shown by Israel’s political leaders to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy?

Was it because he harboured the openly-Nazi Azov Battalion – and sent them into the breakaway Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where they could indulge their love of attacking people who aren’t ethnically Russian?

Wouldn’t that be hypocritical in the light of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian people?

Was it because of an alleged tacit deal in which Moscow looks the other way when Israel bombs Hezbollah targets in Syria, so Israel neglects to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war?

The excuse they fell back on – the usual one – certainly didn’t cut the mustard; they took offence because Zelenskyy compared Putin’s apparent attempt to wipe Ukraine off the map with the Nazi attempt at genocide of the Jews:

“We are in different countries and in completely different conditions,” he said. “But the threat is the same: for both us and you, the total destruction of the people, state, culture. And even of the names: Ukraine, Israel.”

He topped it off by quoting former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, who was born in Kyiv, saying: “We intend to remain alive. Our neighbours want to see us dead. This is not a question that leaves much room for compromise.”

Members of the Israeli Knesset weren’t going to help Zelenskyy or Ukraine, so they resorted to a common tactic – pretending to have been attacked:

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said: “The war [in Ukraine] is awful, but the comparison to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the final solution is an outrage.”

The Likud MP Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said: “…had the speech that was given by Zelensky… been given during normal times, we would say that it borders on Holocaust denial.”

That’s a shocking slur against a Jewish man whose own relatives were killed by Nazis during the same Holocaust.

It seems the UK isn’t the only nation having its hypocrisies exposed by the war in Ukraine.

Source: Ukraine’s President Zelensky is fighting Russian invaders, and now gets lectures on Nazism from friend and foe

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Why is this fact about the Russian attack on Mariupol being withheld from you?

The Azov Battalion’s flag: it features a Wolfsangel and a Black Sun – two symbols associated with Nazism.

It’s in the news all the time at the moment: the Russian attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

The violence. The atrocities. The possibility of Putin using chemical and biological weapons.

But do you know why Mariupol is so important to the Russian president? It may have gone past you because the BBC (to name just one news provider) certainly doesn’t include it in its reports, even though it should. Withholding this one fact shows a shocking bias.

Mariupol is the home base of the Nazi Azov Battalion.

Putin has made it clear that he intends to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has publicly taken offence to the suggestion.

But Zelenskyy has absorbed the Azov Battalion into his armed forces (it became part of the Ukrainian National Guard in 2014 and Zelenskyy has done nothing to remove it).

You can read a large amount of detail about these Nazis here. It includes details of the Azov Battalion’s many incursions into the Donbas region to attack separatists there who wish to secede from Ukraine – and of war crimes committed by its members.

No legitimate and responsible national government would ever allow creatures like this to act for it. But Zelenskyy has.

I’m not saying that Russia is right to invade Ukraine, and anyone making such a claim will get the response they deserve.

It would also be wrong to portray Ukraine as valiant heroes fighting a ruthless oppressor when Ukraine numbers these Nazis among its armed forces.

This conflict must not be seen in black and white, “heroes against villains”, terms.

In this matter, Putin has a very good point.

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Ukraine: Johnson’s conference comparison is doubly hypocritical because of his Russian links

Duper’s delight again: either Boris Johnson is a hypocrite, praising Ukraine but supporting Russia – or he was deceiving his party faithful by saying he wants Ukraine to suffer a disaster at least as great as the effect of Brexit on UK citizens.

Yes, it was disgusting when Boris Johnson got on his hind legs at the Conservative Spring Conference and said Ukraine was like the referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU:

Ukraine is trying to join the European Union. Somebody needs to tell Johnson that before he sticks his size-13s in his mouth again.

Former European Council president Donald Tusk said the words “offend Ukrainians, the British and common sense”.

Even some Conservatives had the sense to condemn Johnson’s ill-chosen words:

Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood said Mr Johnson’s comparison “damages the standard of statecraft” being exhibited in the response to the invasion.

The comment was hugely hypocritical because Brexit has been a disaster for a majority of UK citizens; we have to deal with increased bureaucracy and higher prices as a result of the trade barriers that Johnson raised.

And just ask the people of Ireland (Northern and the Republic) how they feel about the NI Protocol.

But it’s worse than that!

Johnson is doubly hypocritical because he talks about supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom but acts in support of Russia.

It has just been revealed that – on the night Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine – Johnson attended a fundraising event with a Russian donor to the Conservative Party who has connections with the Russian president.

He was joined by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and communities secretary Michael Gove, and all guests reportedly enjoyed expensive wine, food and an auction.

Labour chairwoman Annaliese Dodds branded Johnson a “threat to national security” – and she’s right. Who knows what our loose-lipped prime minister might have said?

Who knows whether he still talks to Putin-supporting Russians now and what he says if he does?

Then he stands in front of his party faithful and praises Ukraine’s struggle for freedom by comparing it with the worst disaster to be deliberately inflicted on the UK in more than 80 years.

Hmm. Perhaps he’s not such a hypocrite after all – if he’s really saying he wants Ukraine to sink as fast as the UK has after Brexit.

Source: Boris Johnson compares Ukraine to Brits ‘wanting to be free’ by choosing Brexit in conference speech | ITV News

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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook