ㅏ nakedly corrupt and evidently narcissistic leader, surrounded by a phalanx of accommodating acolytes, enriched his supporters with liquidised public assets and spurious government schemes, flagrantly broke international treaties, trashed domestic political standards, systematically flooded social media with fake news, used his power over the press to spread disinformation over many decades, sought to destabilise the EU, had fruitful meetings with far right figures in Europe and America, weaponised nostalgic nationalism, and allowed refugees to be used as cannon fodder in an ongoing border dispute. But now is not the time for Keir Starmer to call for Boris Johnson’s resignation. (Did you see what I did there? I’m here all week!! Try the fish!!!)
Britain shamefully allowed Russian oligarchs to pay their way into the upper echelons of society, and is internationally despised for it. It is probably the only area of the current conflict in which we do genuinely “lead the world”. Did the wealthy interlopers’ presence protect Putin from meaningful criticism? Kill a British citizen in a Salisbury park, and then sarcastically maintain your trained assassins were tourists, of an ecclesiastical bent, keen to see the cathedral en plein soleil? Step right this way, 선생님! And would you like to play tennis with the prime minister 너무? Stick your head in between them and go “Blubby blubby blubby”.
Swathes of the home counties are now populated by oligarchs who look like they saw a Jack Vettriano painting of a woman putting on some stockings while a smoking man masturbates through a French window, and instead of just vomiting, decided that was the lifestyle for them! The Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russia, from July 2020, 경고, as cautiously as possible, about their influence on British media and politics, but played down the danger of an oligarch-fuelled Jack Vettriano suspenders and sports car aesthetic dominating the fine art market for decades.
대신, the report suggested “the UK has been viewed as a particularly favourable destination for Russian oligarchs and their money”, pinpointing visas for cash, the reputation laundering power of British institutions, and the danger of British lawyers, financiers and PR professionals, such as Tory party chairman and oligarch enabler 벤 엘리엇, 아마도, becoming de facto Russian state actors. Having learned at the Telegraph that the best way to belittle anything is to tie it into Brussels, Turds Johnson dismissed its concerns as those of “Islington remoaners”. But the people being shelled in Ukrainian cellars don’t seem too keen on Russian influence either. And they love the EU. Is it possible to be an Islington remoaner if you live 2,500 miles away from Islington and spend all day pouring petrol into milk bottles or hiding? Just asking for a fellow comedian.
Fifteen months prior to the report, while still foreign secretary, Turds evaded his bodyguards for an unapproved jaunt to a party in Italy held by an ex-KGB agent’s playboy son, Evgeny Lebedev, whose name sounds like someone trying to say “Have you any liver please?” underwater (I have checked with Alexa and this joke is officially “not racist”).
Turds was then spotted admitting to fellow passengers he’d “had a heavy night”, in San Francesco d’Assisi airport, on the way home. One onlooker observed of the future PM: “He was such a mess. He was quite dishevelled and his trousers were twisted and creased. He looked like he had slept in his clothes.” To be fair, Turds always looks like that, but the fact that his trousers were “twisted” is uniquely disturbing. What horrendous act could Turds’s host have perpetrated on him that left the future PM’s trousers tangled so, and could it have any relation to Lebedev’s accession to the House of Lords two years later, at Turds’s request, despite the security agencies briefing Turds against it?
갑자기, the suggestion of Russian interference is taken more seriously, and the systematically maligned Carole Cadwalladr is quietly transforming from Andrew Neil’s “mad cat woman” into the Oracle of All Knowledge from The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The Tories’ own use of disinformation in the last election, 어디 88% of their online communications were false, showed us the approach can work, and it was always obvious to me that I was being targeted by Russian trolls. Whenever I wrote about Russia around the time of the EU referendum, patriotic counterattacks would appear in the newspaper’s below-the-line comment section in not quite right English. In the end I took to goading the writers of these clearly targeted contributions by including deliberately incomprehensible comments about Russia in my satires, peaking, in June 2015, 이랑 following paragraph (apologies if I have quoted it before).
“To me, 블라디미르 푸틴 is a giant, prolapsed female worker bee that sucks hot ridicule out of langoustines’ cephalothoraxes. Let’s see what crunchy, expansionist lavatory honey this notion causes the parthenogenetic Russian keyboard wendigos to inflate for us this week, in the shadow of Paul McGann and his art gnome.” But I suspect the author of the subsequent comment, “Even if Putin bee, he struggle for better colony much better for world than western wasp colonialist Lee tries to flag wave”, was an 관찰자 reader joining in.
Did the Kremlin trolls’ cost-effective cyber campaign finally run out of steam? Trump surrendered the White House, eventually; the anticipated EU exit domino effect was headed off by the reality of Brexit; all over Europe, oligarchs’ assets are being seized; even in Britain, Roman Abramovich’s assets were finally frozen and stored in the ice compartment of the Downing Street lockdown party wine fridge. Putin has unplugged the wifi and sent in the tanks. Russia entangled British trousers, as surely as Lebedev tangled Turds’s on that fateful Italian evening. First we must hold the Home Office to account, neutralise the anti-refugee aftertaste of the Brexit campaign, and match European hospitality for the displaced victims of war. Then we must disentangle our trousers. Permanently.