Russia: The Great Whitewash, by Peter Polack

Russia: The Great Whitewash, by Peter Polack

Long before the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 there was an earlier conflict harbinger in the electoral ambitions of Alexei Navalny, presently in his winter residence or Penal Colony No.2 at Pokrov. A fearful Putin, intimidated by the taller and more handsome Navalny, engineered trumped up charges that resulted in the most hideous incarceration. Stalin would have been proud. The warden and guards of the Navalny winter residence are presumably ignoring the defection of Russian security service officer and Putin intimate Gleb Karakulov, yet another omen. In the fullness, the people of Pokrov, like the German neighbours of Auschwitz, should be made to tour the cells of Penal Colony No.2 inevitably murmuring among themselves about knowns and unknowns.

Navalny was possibly the first Russian casualty in the recent war against humanity, Europe and the Ukraine. While vast resources have poured into NATO members and aspirants close to the Russian border, Navalny has had to bear a chilly winter, while sick, as a compulsory guest of the Lock Up Putin Rivals Club, with very little to subsist on. A long line of dissenters have followed Navalny into the dissolute world of the Russian penal system and now journalists are joining them as extreme suppression becomes the order of the day with each battlefield defeat in Kherson, Kharkiv and Bakhmut. They now include foreign journalist Evan Gershkovich of the famous Wall Street Journal which was oblivious to the reality that Russia is now a closed society and all journalists should leave, to be followed by all diplomats. Truth is dying of loneliness in that bitter land.

Putin in defeat and retreat is holed up in one of his many doppelganger offices from the Black Sea to Moscow, thinking his legerdemain can fool a well-informed outside world. His self obfuscation extends to the prowess of the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, the resilience of all Ukrainians and the creep of domestic explosions to not only his front door but others like him.

Ignorance is bliss and fear is a consuming conqueror. As Ukraine receives shipment after shipment of tanks and sophisticated weapons to let loose on a much diminished opponent, the bizarre actions of the Kremlin, including the egregious arrest of young Evan, reveal that they are truly unnerved. Perhaps even the chief fantasist Lavrov suffers from itchy feet.

At some point boycotts will reach the nations that remain friendly with Russia, abstain from UN votes or provide any support, many of which derive substantial income from tourism. Ethical consumers know where to avoid and what to buy, the environment is not the only pressing reality. Perhaps leaders could also start by leading with a general snub of the Security Council until it returns to planet earth.

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