Friday, 23 August 2013

Oh Vladimir, so much to answer for

A couple of things about Russia, following my piece about Putin's recent gay-bashing.

Firstly the pole-vaulter Isinbayeva, who gave the following long and excruciating interview about how she really did not see why gay people should be allowed to go around proselytising their "sick" ways. 

The cynics among us might think it may not be long before Putin snaps her up for a candidate in some parliamentary sinecure, and she becomes a member of his Cabinet (for those of you who might find this preposterous, I invite you to look at Italy under Berlsuconi).

I sincerely hope her (hopefully slightly more prudent) corporate sponsors drop her like a hot brick, which is what she deserves. But the dull, thoughtless and conformist Isinbayeva is not the root cause of this problem; the problem is her obnoxious president, who has created an atmosphere in the country most congenial for the casual homophobe.

The second is, I'm afraid, both preposterous and somewhat sick at the same time.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has, unsurprisingly, been defending its ally Assad, as he rains down chemical weapons on civilian homes, killing thousands including many children. However, they omitted to check in with Syria, who gave an entirely conflicting story.

According to Michael Weiss' brilliant piece on the Syria massacres, Syria said they were not responsible. Russia said the opposite, that they were responsible but - wait for it - it was a deliberate ploy by the rebels to provoke them into action:
The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, first began by calling for a “professional” forensic investigation, then concluded that the rebels were responsible for a “premeditated provocation”. 
Quite why anyone would deliberately provoke a chemical weapons attack on their children is something really beyond the wit of man to comprehend, but that is what the Putin administration expects us to believe.

To paraphrase the Smiths (and all the more poignantly, given the deaths of children), Putin currently has an awful lot to answer for, for supporting the unspeakable regime of Assad. As my friend Julie pointed out, there have already been more deaths in Syria than in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict since 1948.

I have no doubt that Putin sleeps soundly at night, despite all this. But he does not deserve to.

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