Thursday, January 17, 2008
By its recent actions in harassing, threatening and intimidating British Council staff in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, the Russian government has shown its true colours. This is not a government for which the ideals of friendship and cultural co-operation between nations have much or any resonance at all - rather, it is a narrow-minded, vengeful and politically-motivated clique, intent upon cynical troublemaking and the stoking of international tensions.
BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds has drawn attention to the link between the present crisis and the legal ramifications surrounding the actions of the Russian nationalist Andrei Lugovoi, who is suspected of involvement in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London in the autumn of 2006. Again, the Putin government's support and protection of Lugovoi points to its true nature, and should leave no one in any doubt as to what its inclinations are.
An interesting feature of the present crisis, which was obviously prepared in advance by the Russian authorities, is the flooding of British media comments boards (the Mail and Telegraph are the two leading examples at present) with anti-UK and pro-Putin messages posted by Russians posing under English-sounding names.