Peasouper and Russian Patriotism

Wed, 2016/12/28 - 9:54am | Your editor
Printer-friendly version

In recent years there were several things Russians could patriotically identify with: the vestments, incense, and rituals of the Russian Orthodox Church dating from its historic origin in Kievan Rus; the country's great literary tradition; the ballet; the triumphant sports teams; and the great voices of the former Red Army Chorus, far more popular than the Army ever was. One by one these bases have gone wrong. Kiev and Ukraine want to be independent. Russian literature has come to a seeming dead end. The ballet is underfunded and the Olympic victories turn out to have been faked by systematic official institutionalized drug doping. A 2nd Russian anti-doping official Anna Antseliovich admitted the cheating to the New York Times.

And the successor to the Red Army Chorus traveling to a Syrian holiday gig crashed into the Black Sea not far from Kiev.

Early in his grab for power, Vladimir V. Putin was suspected of letting the security services create fake terrorist attacks in the Russian heartland, blamed on Caucasian Muslims. These unified his political support and following. Now what looks like a terrorist move on the successor to the Red Army Chorus is being presented as purely an accidental airplane wing failure. I'm sceptical.

One reason for my going all 1960s is today's almost impenetrable London fog. It is not quite the same peasouper as a half century ago, as the mist is white rather than yellow or grey with pollution from coal burning. But it still feels like a John Le Carré novel where it is impossible to tell good guys from bad or truth from manipulation. Fifty years on, post-fact fog is back.


More for paid subscribers from Britain, Mexico, Finland, Hong Kong, The Netherland, Germany, India, Canada, a half dozen oil producing countries, Sweden, Switzerland, The Dutch Antilles, Panama, Australia, Colombia and a few other places.

Full content is available to subscribers only. Subscribe now.