26 May 2022

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Russian influence. Were you influenced by Russia in the Brexit referendum? What about other countries?
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Russian influence. Were you influenced by Russia in the Brexit referendum? What about other countries?

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Time to move on and plan for the future

Russia does not always get the best of press and there seems no doubt that the British people are pretty furious at their actions in Salisbury in an attempted assassination and their subsequent denials of it. What a pity they persist in this type of activity.

However, that seems to be a far cry from what has now become another set of bleating by Brexit remainers – that Russia influenced the voting of the British people. This is all the more extraordinary when the recent report which has now been published says that no evidence was found that they did. The robust “remainer answer” to that was that they did not look for any.

When will this end? Speaking personally, I do not recall seeing any form of influence by Russia and they certainly did not have any effect on my voting decision; happily I am big enough and wise enough to make my decision without the assistance of Mr Putin or anyone else. Indeed I have not met anyone who says that Russia had any influence on their vote, either way. Has anyone?

Of course no foreign power did anything to influence the British voter, did they? Well yes – what about President Obama who came over to the UK and said on television that if Britain went through with Brexit, as regards any free trade agreement with the US, we would be “at the end of the line”. If that is not influence, what is? Actually that was said as a threat and a favour to Prime Minister David Cameron to try and intimidate the people to go against Brexit. How shocking and how brazen.

The publication of this report has now led to criticisms of the TV channel Russia Today. Anyone who saw Kay Burley on Sky TV this morning will probably be absolutely stunned to know that she basically said that Sky is a first class reliable news source, contrary to Russia Today and started to question whether MPs should actually be prohibited from being seen on Russia Today at all. The way she spoke of Alex Salmond almost seemed to suggest that he was a traitor or a spy!

Last time I looked, we still had freedom of speech and freedom of the press in this country.

Occasionally when I get tired of the usual old dogma from Sky and the BBC I take a look at Russia Today and find that it is quite interesting because it has a different slant on things and reports some news that Sky and the BBC fail to report. I wonder why. I believe it is called news censorship. Russia Today actually have some very interested documentaries from time to time, programmes you will not see on the other channels.

Propaganda has existed from earliest times. During the Second World War, Germany had a department called the Propaganda Ministry – Propogandaministerium - or to give it its full title in English “The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.” It was a Nazi agency to enforce Nazi ideology. I remember as a school boy learning German that in the short story “Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen” [Dr Murke’s collected silences] a non-supporter described this department as the “propopogandaministerium” – note the subtle mis-spelling by adding the additional “po” near to the beginning of the word, the import of the amendment being that the name now included the word “popo” which was German slang for backside!

Everyone wants to disseminate their own ideology – political parties do it every day in every country. Russia Today may be slanted in some way but of course our British channels are not, are they? And perish the thought that countries like Britain and the USA should ever attempt in any way to influence the outcome of a foreign country’s election. They wouldn’t do that, would they?

Pots, kettles and the colour black spring to mind.

And while we are on the subject of foreign news channels, if Russia Today is bad and should be banned, what about CNN? As always double standards are being brought into play. Actually a quite good news channel is Euronews. They have a much wider field of interest and by watching all these channels, it helps to build a much broader and probably overall more accurate state of play of world events.

Finally just a word about money laundering and the alleged money laundering activities relating to Russian money in London. Our current money laundering legislation is tough and it has to be operated by all financial institutions in the country, even down to your local solicitor or accountant. If there is a suspicion of money laundering then it must be reported, and money laundering relates specifically to the proceeds of crime or terrorism. There has to be some evidence. If there is, then the obligation is there to report it to the authorities. Surely we can do no more than rely on the framework we now have in place and if Russian money has a criminal source, then it should be followed up just like with anyone else. If it does not, leave them alone.

Whether you voted for Brexit or not, the 2019 election was completely decisive and the fact is that Britain has left the EU and now is the time for the country to pull together to do the best for the future.

Adrian Leopard 22-07-20

Photo Nikolay Vorobyev

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