Friday, December 08, 2006

UK-Russia Rift Still Growing

In the FT, Arkady Ostrovsky writes about the continuing deterioration in relations between Britain and Russia:

It was shortly after Anthony Brenton, Britain’s ambassador to Moscow, spoke about the challenges to freedom in Russia that a young blond man thrust himself forward and started to yell at the top of his voice: “Brenton, apologise!”

The stunt this week at the Humanities University in Moscow - where Mr Brenton was speaking alongside Sir Tom Stoppard, the British playwright whose trilogy about 19th-century Russian thinkers is being staged in Moscow - was not a one-off prank by an attention-seeking youth. It was part of a well-organised harassment campaign against the ambassador, apparently waged with the knowledge of the Kremlin, that is a striking symptom of the worsening relationship between Moscow and London.

The young man was a member of Nashi (”Our Own”): a Kremlin-sponsored youth movement with a well-earned reputation for thuggery.

The organisation, which claims to have 7,000 active members and another 8,000 sympathisers, has been stalking the UK ambassador seven days a week for the past four months, putting him and his family under considerable strain.

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