With Russian Presidential elections just over a week away, a tabloid style story has broken, involving the illness of a Russian man living in England. The man who initially gained infamy for selling Russian state secrets to UK intelligence agencies has once again gained infamy, this time for being hospitalised. Sergey Skripal was jailed for treason in a Russian courtroom in 2006 but was freed in 2010 as part of a so-called “spy exchange”.
Since 2010, he has lived what appears to be an unremarkable life in England. Now though, he and his daughter have been hospitalised after falling unconscious due to an unknown condition or set of conditions. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has stated that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned and that the UK will respond “robustly” if evidence points to poisoning at the hand of the Russian state.
Much of the European media have already pointed their finger at Moscow, even though the cause and nature of Mr. and Miss. Skripal’s medical deterioration has yet to be determined by doctors. The rush among the European media and by extrapolation the UK government, to blame Russia for a medical incident about which hardly anything is known, demonstrates both the duplicity and cynicism of the western media and governments when it comes to anything involving a Russian.
When Russians peacefully express political opinions they’re “Kremlin trolls”, when Russians don’t express a political opinion at all, they’re nevertheless “meddling in western political institutions” and now it seems that when a Russian is hospitalised he is part of a “state initiated poisoning conspiracy”. An allegation that is backed up by emotions rather than any kind of evidence, whether hard or circumstantial, is merely an expression of fiction. When these acts of fiction result in political decisions at a geopolitical level, this fiction becomes a means to sow unnecessary conflict in a world that ought to be based on pragmatic cooperation that puts trade and basic economics first and ideological sycophancy last.
It is patently irresponsible for a government like that in the UK or those elsewhere to convene governing legislatures to discuss Russia, simply because a man who happens to be Russian has fallen ill. Shockingly the UK has done just this. If multicultural states like the UK had Parliamentary debates every-time someone of a foreign background fell ill, then UK politicians would be debating India, Jamaica, Pakistan, Nigeria, Canada, Ireland, Poland, France and a host of other countries on a daily if not hourly basis. It is simply absurd to isolate Russia in this way, but this is exactly what has occurred.
When it comes to looking for a motive, it is inconceivable that at this time in history, Moscow could have any desire to inflict an illness upon Sergey Skripal. He had been living outside of Russia for nearly a decade, had served part of his penal sentence and furthermore, with Russia in the midst of trying to broker a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria, while readying itself for Presidential elections on the 18th of March, it would be absurd for Russia to wilfully do something that would attract negative attention at such a time.
Inversely, it would serve the motive of someone looking to attract negative attention to Russia at such a time. One needn’t have a wild imagination to know which state and non-state actors fit such a description. While the general public in every country remain primarily concerned with their living standards, employment, wages, the price of goods and the quality of life, certain governments continue to waste their own citizens’ time and money discussing Russia. It is an ill conceived waste of energy that has many negative consequences for global diplomacy and no positive impact for western citizens who want to revive their own economic condition above all else. Every time it looks like western governments might quit while they’re ahead, the circus of Russophobic hysteria becomes ever more absurd.