JOHN DICKIE COLUMN: Don't underestimate the real heroes of this war

As I pen this column, a spectre haunts Europe, writes John Dickie.

By Graham Tebbutt (Edited by)
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 3:10 pm
Vladimir Putin is likely to be just ‘an opportunist little apparatchik’
Vladimir Putin is likely to be just ‘an opportunist little apparatchik’

No, it’s not revolution (sorry, Karl) and it’s not even communism (sorry again, Karl), it’s the revival of old Tsarist Mother Russia, with the bare-chested warrior prince astride a horse and demanding fealty from his subjects in other lands.

There has been much ill-informed chatter about the man Putin, his beliefs and his philosophy.

Take away ‘he is Russian and once worked for state security’, and there may have been a time when he believed in what he was doing, but I suspect he is nothing more than an opportunist little apparatchik in the same way that many Tsarist secret police who joined the Cheka after 1917.

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There is a widespread popular assumption that a Russian is somehow automatically a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.

One thing we can be sure of is dreary little Vlad was interested in only two things: himself and accumulating a fortune.

Not for him a discreet little dacha in a forest; no, Vlad is building himself a huge palace and ripping out a forest to do so.

He, of course, had a mentor. Remember the dreadful Boris Yeltsin? Strange how in the modern narrative the name Boris crops up!

Yeltsin was an ignorant buffoon (strange how buffoons appear too). He was a sly, inarticulate alcoholic, but his skill was fooling the people and stealing their assets, the country’s oil and gas, engineering capacity, transport links, whatever he could flog off to his obliging oligarch mates.

Putin inherited his capacity for theft on a grand scale, along with his oligarch address book.

In order to steal wealth and power, the Yeltsin-Putin axis had to discredit and destroy Mr Gorbachev, a sane and honest man who was taking his country in a rational direction.

What is unforgivable is that the West allowed the gangsters and the corrupt to continue stashing their ill-gotten gains all over the place. Open banks, buy football clubs, buy mansions and half of Belgravia; even buy citizenship for £2 million a pop.

Were the titans of the City asleep while all this was going on?

The tragedy in the Ukraine will go on, as every news outlet appears to enjoy telling us.

Things must be really bad when you see Orla Guerin crouching whilst wearing a tin hat.

But that is only half the story. Of course the people of the Ukraine are brave and resourceful, but as far as I am concerned, the young people demonstrating in more than 40 towns and cities all over Russia are the real heroes, tackling evil in the belly of the beast.

If there is to be peace and the war to be stopped, then pompous declarations in the comfort of Westminster are not enough.

As well as solidarity with the people of Ukraine, support must be given to the peace movement in Russia.

One last thought. When Donald Trump praises Putin, you know things have got worse.

Gangsters and buffoons make a disturbing mixture.