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Lords of the Flies,
This review is from: Londongrad: From Russia with Cash;The Inside Story of the Oligarchs (Paperback)
Lord Acton was right. The more the lolly the more the corruption. That is just one of the several inferences of this book that is not spelt out but left to the reader to connect the dots. The dots though are generally so close together that it is scarcely necessary to connect them. It is a subtle piece of writing because superficially it is racy journalism but some of the dots are pixel size so that the subliminal message comes out as clearly as if it were engraved in stone.
The authors do not present a polemic. They simply recount facts which we may assume are true because no overpaid lawyer has got an injunction to prevent their publication. The book deals with the accumulation of staggering amounts of personal wealth by a handful of ex-Soviet wheeler-dealers (Messrs Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Fridman, Gusinsky, Abramovich, Deripaska and Patarkatsishvili among others) soon after the collapse of the USSR and their gross behaviour in squandering it on themselves and their friends. The crudity of their lives reflects their extraordinarily low cultural level. They have the tastes of gangsters, and not just the tastes. They justify their grasping greed by saying it was OK because it was legal. Adolf Hitler and his merry entourage were 'legal'. Morality and law are not the same thing. To acquire, by whatever means, huge amounts of the property of the Russian people then to squirrel the proceeds away in foreign havens to protect it from taxation and being returned to its rightful owners is immorality on an industrial scale.
The main focus of this book is London where the oligarchs feel safe because courts seem reluctant to extradite them even though they are charged with serious crimes in their own country. The Chief Magistrate of London appears to sincerely believe that Berezovsky is a political refugee! They have recruited highly-placed British bag-carriers. Lord Bell was a media adviser (PR man to put it more crudely) to Maggie Thatcher who knighted him for his efforts. Tony Blair gave him a peerage. He now is employed to improve the image of London-based oligarchs and to represent the interest of the rich and powerful such as the Saudi government. (What on earth had this man done to benefit his country that justified him being appointed to the upper house and to sit in government over the British people at their expense? The authors of this book don't ask the question). A fellow Peer of the Realm, Lord Goldsmith, the man who gave flexible advice on the legality of attacking Iraq, is another hanger-on in the entourage that surrounds plutomaniac Russians. He provided legal advice to Patarkatsishvili - a late client of Lord Bell.
The political spectrum is well-represented among the Russian's spongers. Another noble Lord, Mandelson, of the then ruling Labour Party and George Osborne, at the time Shadow Chancellor in the Tory opposition and Nat Rothschild, of the famous banking family were notoriously entertained by Depriska on his luxury yacht in Corfu. In case the middle-ground of British politics feel left out Lord Owen was up to his neck with Khodorkovsky. It's amazing how many of the flies buzzing around have the title Lord. Connecting the obvious dots is it any wonder that not only British but also French, Italian, Canadian, and perhaps most of all, American citizens are disillusioned with their leaders. It is unimaginable that Roy Jenkins, or Lord Carrington or in more recent times Shirley Williams, would stoop so low as to associate with these people. How many times have leading politicians of any stripe been entertained in their homes by working people in Wolverhampton or Tottenham? Do Britain's political leaders have no interest in the British poor, just the foreign rich? Lord Acton was right and so was Oliver Goldsmith (no relation) when he says that wealth accumulates but men decay.