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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Western governments may have strong words for the Russian president, but we’ve been here before. Every time a Russian opposition figure is assassinated, from journalist Anna Politkovskaya to MI6 informer Alexander Litvinenko to politician Boris Nemtsov, there is a chorus of international outrage and demands for action to rein in Putin. Yet little is done, as world leaders don’t want to jeopardise their business dealings with Russia – or face more hostile acts by the Kremlin – and Putin emerges emboldened. A few months after the Salisbury attack, for instance, Russia hosted the World Cup, and opposition activist Petr Verzilov was poisoned after running onto the pitch during the final wearing a police uniform.”

Sarah Hurst

I suppose you could say that Mr Putin has almost “normalised” the idea that when dealing with political opponents or any sort of perceived threat, the approach favoured is to kill them, lie about it, smirk a bit, and go back to undermining whatever particular nearby country or cause happens to be in play. And then hold a soccer tournament. Rinse, repeat.

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m not sure what Ms Hurst thinks we should be doing. Foreign governments are constantly doing really horrible things — for example, homosexuals and rape victims are frequently killed in some Arab countries. Muslims are being herded into trains to take them to concentration camps. Insofar as crimes are committed in their countries such as that guy who was poisoned with Polonium, we should try to prosecute the perpetrators within the criminal justice system.

    Bad stuff happens. Putin is a criminal. If we can use the criminal justice system to punish people who commit crimes we should. If we can’t we can’t. And if we can’t we may well make a statement stating our disapproval.

    The problem here is not one of criminal behavior. Rather the problem is that Putin is embarrassing and thumbing his nose at powerful people. And that is a crime much worse, from their perspective, than pushing some dark skinned person off a building, or stoning to death some young girl who allowed her sexual propriety to slip.

    But we shouldn’t risk the destruction of trade links or god forbid a nuclear war to save the ego of some politicians. We are told that maintaining trade is some dirty, grasping nasty little capitalist plot. The truth is that there are few things more stabilizing in the world, few things more or a barrier to war, than effective, friendly trade links between two countries.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Fraser, it is difficult to know how far countries should go in turning the heat up on scumbags such as VP, but it is certainly grounds for following policies that are not seen to reward such conduct. The article quotes Angela Merkel, and then goes on to note how Germany is becoming even more reliant on natural gas imports from Russia, and that dependence increases because Germany is phasing out nuclear power. In fact, dogmatic environmentalism is one of the factors that blinds people to how they embolden the likes of Putin. The very same idiots accusing Trump of being a Russian stooge (that theory seems to have gone quiet) were those endorsing Merkel’s acts that have given Putin more leverage over Europe’s largest economy, while the US, in contrast, is now an energy exporter because of fracking.

    More could be done to freeze this fucker and his regime from the global economy, and to punish those linked to it. OK, no-one wants to punish ordinary Russians for the sins of this man, and that is why setting boundaries is not easy. Another option of course is to allow Russian emigres to get out (suitably vetted so they are not criminals). A “brain drain” of talent from Russia is one way that country can be made to suffer for its behaviour.

  • Itellyounothing

    Right here in the UK, tens of thousands are dying from a deliberate policy of turning the National Health Service into the National Covid Service and shutting down the economy.

    Killing people is fine sometimes….

  • Mr Ecks

    Mr Orr is correct. Short of nuke-outs there is little practical that can be done re Putin or Xi.

    However the speed regime change went into action after Belarus told the germfreaks to go fuck might suggest otherwise.

  • APL

    Itellyounothing: “Right here in the UK, tens of thousands are dying from a deliberate policy of turning the National Health Service into the National Covid Service and shutting down the economy.”

    I’m just an ordinary ‘man on the street’ and I endorse this comment.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce (London)
    The article quotes Angela Merkel, and then goes on to note how Germany is becoming even more reliant on natural gas imports from Russia, and that dependence increases because Germany is phasing out nuclear power.

    But I think that is confusing two issues. Why should Germany shy away from buying natural gas from Russia? Should they do it to punish the misdeeds of Putin, or should the do it because doing so poses a national security threat to Germany — putting to much reliance on a partner who does not have your best wishes at heart. I say no the the former, and yes to the latter. Especially so, and on this point I agree with President Trump, when they can buy that same gas from the country that Germany has always been able to rely on, even when Germany treats them badly, namely the United States. Germany’s position on this is just dreadful. As they live under the protective umbrella of American defense, they won’t even extend to us preferential trading status. It is an insult.

    And FWIW, I am not suggesting for a moment that Germany should NOT buy gas from Russia. As I say, trade is the strongest way to bond nations together in peace and reciprocity. Rather that they should recognize that the price of gas from Russia comes at a premium when factoring in the risk associated with it. And any serious organization multi sources crucial resources. This is not necessarily a government thing, it happens in private business too. For example, I think Netflix has made a very poor business decision to run their service on AWS because AWS’s owner is their primary competitor. If they could get the same service from Azure or even running their own data center, this may well be a good choice even if it costs them more in $$$.

    More could be done to freeze this fucker and his regime from the global economy,

    But why? In a sense trade is the only thing that makes them want to come to the table at all. What exactly are we concerned about here? Certainly he seems to have executed a few people, and done so on foreign soil, but his crime is that he did so publicly embarrassing the people that are in power. Had Litvinenko been simply taken in an alley and shot you’d probably never of heard his name. What made the difference was the Putin made a big fuss about it by making it clear that he did it, and that nobody could do anything about it. If Putin had used arsenic rather than Polonium nobody would even care. In either case he is still as dead, but the real crime of Putin here is his effrontery.

    Now, let me draw a distinction here between Russia and North Korea or Iran. In these cases sanctions are justified. Why? Because these countries really do pose a real and significant threat to western civilization through the use of nuclear weapons. Nobody thinks that Putin is ready to fire his nukes, nowhere close. But I think most people think there is a real risk that NK will or that Iran, when they develop them will. That is something that is more akin to war, and the rules in war, even cold wars, are quite different.

  • Flubber

    Slightly O/T maybe but Vice is broadcasting an interview with the Portland Trump Supporter Assassin, and supporting him while he claims self defence, despite the video evidence to the obvious contrary that most of us have seen.

    Oh, there’s plenty of evil to go around.

  • Cesare

    You forgot the vodka and caviar.

  • John B

    Western Governments have just assassinated right to life, liberty, and peaceful enjoyment of one’s property, caused the deaths of tens of thousands with more to follow – nobody is bothered. And isn’t it therefore hypocritical to complain about Putin’s abuse of power and affront niceties of civil society?

    People in the West should consider they are no better than those they point their fingers at… for the same reason.

  • Jacob

    “Mr Putin has almost “normalised” the idea…”
    Putin has invented or normalized nothing. Killing your opponents is normal practice since before Methuselah.
    Putin is practicing it in a very moderate and economic manner. Could have been much worse (and was, and is in many places).
    Very strong words of admonition are in order.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Why should Germany shy away from buying natural gas from Russia?

    It should think that by buying the stuff, it is consolidating a vile regime. Fairly easy, really.

    If Germany did not stamp out nuclear energy, as part of a Green agenda (let’s leave aside whether that is good or not), then it is going to have to buy more such gas from Russia, obviously. By putting itself more in the maw of the Russian energy system, German foreign policy is influenced, if only at the margins. It means German policymakers and former politicians, such as Gerhard Schroder (former Chancellor) and others are going to be invited on trips to Russia, to be encouraged to build business alliances with the crony capitalists in Moscow and elsewhere. And it means such folk are going to lobby for Berlin to go easy on Putin whenever one of his goons decides to slip someone a funny piece of salad dressing.

    Putin is practicing it in a very moderate and economic manner.

    No, what his regime is doing is vile, and what is particularly obnoxious is how he almost visibly takes pleasure from it. It is not remotely comparable to, say, the Trump administration taking out a senior Iranian general who had been formenting trouble vs the West, violently so, for years.

    I find the apologetics on this thread about VP to be quite illuminating. How much are you herberts getting paid?

  • bobby b

    This guy must read Samizdata:

    https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/rick-moran/2020/09/03/can-vladimir-putin-be-stopped-from-trying-to-kill-his-political-opponents-n885775

    From the OP:

    ” . . . no-one wants to punish ordinary Russians for the sins of this man, and that is why setting boundaries is not easy.”

    Given that he was elected, why not? I’d not want to punish ordinary Chinese for Xi Jinping – they get no choice – but Russians seem to love this guy. So why do they get a pass?

    I suspect the answer is the same as Fraser Orr’s answer – trade. We want to rein in VP without destabilizing our relationship with Russia. But, according to Russian voters, VP IS Russia.

  • Putin is practicing it in a very moderate and economic manner.(Jacob, September 4, 2020 at 12:59 pm)

    If the comparison is with Stalin and suchlike, then yes, Putin is much more moderate. It was said of Mussolini that the number of own-country political killings he perpetrated in a decade would not have kept Hitler going for a day, or Stalin for an hour. I’m nevertheless glad Mussolini ended up as he did. It is wise sometimes to compare with the norm, not the extreme, even if Russia’s recent history makes that hard.

  • Paul Marks

    I find Putin admirers very hard to understand.

    The latest line of propaganda is that “Putin stood up against Covid hysteria” – NO HE DID NOT, Russia was subjected to the same lockdown madness that many Western countries were subjected to, and Russia is also in the grip of the vaccine obsession.

    I suppose that people are so filled with despair by the decline of the West (and that despair I can understand) that they clutch at anything – even a snake like Putin.

  • Martin

    I don’t particularly admire Vladimir Putin. However, given the complete madness western countries are inflicting on themselves it’s hard to see Putin as the boogeyman. Russia after all isn’t why we have all this woke bullshit and why we’ve become economically dependent on China. It is ideological crazies within our own countries that are completely to blame for this state of affairs. While I’m fully aware of the oppressive nature of the Putin regime, Russia seems largely immune from woke ideology and it’s hard for western ngos, media and multinationals to spread that poison within that country.

    Putin also seems to drive a lot of liberals into apoplexy and they look incredibly stupid. Viktor Orban is more my cup of tea, however when you see liberals showing signs of rabies and mental disorder because Putin has done something homophobic or whatever it does make me think ‘keep on going Vladimir’.

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