The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16h March 2018

Russian spies and poison

THE RUSSIAN government last week responded to Theresa May’s hysterical “ultimatum” on Monday to produce an explanation of the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter by saying they were ready to talk about it “but only after an official request from the UK”. In other words, she had not even bothered to go through diplomatic channels — her ranting was more for the benefit of the western media and she was not really expecting an answer.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that Russia has yet to receive official requests from Britain regarding Skripal, who was allegedly poisoned in the city of Salisbury.

But Lavrov did suggest that both countries should hold talks on the incident. No doubt he would want to raise the issue that London is now regarded as a very safe haven for criminals of the ‘Russian Mafia’. Bill Browder, the British-based financier dubbed “Putin’s number one enemy”, claims that Russian crime gangs now treat Britain as their jurisdiction of choice for laundering both their money and their reputations.

There are several possibilities behind the poisoning of the retied spy, who had been released by the Russian government in a spy swap with Britain. It is unlikely they would release him if they wanted to kill him.

But the British government and tame media have a long record of manufacturing horror stories about leaders and governments that stand up to NATO imperialism, from Saddam’s imaginary weapons of mass destruction and the dodgy dossier, to the vilification of Colonel Gadhafi and accusations against President Assad of Syria that he used nerve gas against his own people. And of course, ridiculous allegations that in the 1980s Jeremy Corbyn fed information to the Russians on what Margaret Thatcher ate for breakfast, when Corbyn was a lowly Labour backbencher who rarely encountered Thatcher.

Recently it has been Putin who has been getting the treatment — along with Russia as a nation past and present. There are constant allegations that Russia is meddling in other countries’ elections — which is rich after the huge and blatant western intervention in Russian elections in the 1990s, resulting in the rise to power of the alcoholic western puppet Yeltsin, allowing western imperialism a free-hand to smash the former Soviet economy and ransack the country’s treasures. They have never forgiven Putin for putting a stop to that by renationalising key state industries.

Putin is no saint. He is no communist and his domestic political opponents do not enjoy a level playing field in elections. A lot of his policies on gay rights and women’s rights would have shocked the original Bolsheviks. But he feels he needs the support of the reactionary Orthodox Church and so he upholds these policies for opportunistic reasons.

But he is not stupid and he is very popular in Russia — mainly for not being Yeltsin and for standing up to the western imperialist plunderers.

It is very possible that Skripal’s poisoning was something to do with the internecine wars between the various Russian Mafia gangs. Maybe he owed money to an oligarch. Maybe he was killed by western agents in order allow further demonisation of Putin. It is easy to speculate — presenting evidence is another matter. And May has presented no evidence at all.

She has threatened another round of sanctions against Russia — but there has been little enthusiasm from her allies in Europe or those in the USA. Every time sanctions are imposed on Russia it is the West that suffers most economically.

Four years ago, sanctions imposed because of Russian humanitarian support to Ukraine’s breakaway republics of Donbas and Lugansk led to the bankruptcy of hundreds of European farmers who sold their fruit and vegetables to Russia. In the USA new sanctions have been announced over the alleged interference in elections but have yet to be implemented.

And just two weeks ago Britain was asking Russia to increase gas supplies as we nearly ran out in the severe cold snap.

But behind all this pantomime is a serious campaign by western leaders to persuade us to hate Russia and accept the dangerous build-up to a possible all-out war with Russia — as with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

But launching such a war against Russia would almost certainly become a nuclear holocaust, which is why we must counter imperialism’s lies and fight for nuclear disarmament as a priority.