Three Point Failure: The Guardian’s racist campaign against “dirty Russian money”

by Kit

Just a few of the buildings that, theoretically speaking, could be owned by Russians.

Since the initial press hysteria over the Skripal case, the major political parties of the UK have been clambering over each other in an effort to scale the highest peak of moral high ground. Every paper, pundit and career minded MP only too eager to denounce the inherent badness of Russia, and everything Russia-related.

RT was attacked again – despite having literally nothing to do with the Skripal case – and threatened with having its broadcasting license revoked, whilst the Tories and Labour argued over who appeared on the channel the most. The “liberal” press, and even some Labour MPs who should know better, went on the attack over “dirty Russian money” in the Tory party.

Just as in the US, with the ludicrous “Russia-gate” investigation, any kind of connection to Russia was treated as an automatic taint, and MPs and journalists alike rushed to wash themselves clean and make it clear they were the most anti-Russian.

The pro-Corbyn Left missed the mark to greatest degree, overly keen to smash their “soft on Putin” image, and get their kicks in on the Tories, they decided to take aim at Tory donors and their “dirty Russian money”.

This culminated in Owen Jones’ ridiculous video (above), tooling around the capital and pointing out what properties are (or might be) owned by Russians, and are therefore bad.

He also talks to Luke Harding quite a bit, which is never a good idea.

There’s a lot of problems with both this campaign in general, and this video in the specific. They can be boiled down to three categories.

1. Racism

Attacking something, or someone, simply because of their race or nationality is racism. Pure and simple. Chris Bryant MP talking about the problems with Russia, pointing out buildings in Kensington that might be owned by Russians as they play the Soviet national anthem is just Russophobic nonsense.

This video is racist, and the motivations behind it are racist, and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.

If you think this is an overstatement, then imagine a Labour MP and some journalists driving around London in a bus and pointing out every building owned by a Jewish millionaire, set to the Israeli national anthem. What would the press reaction to that be?

2. Stupidity

The video is stupid, outside of the racism – which is always based in stupidity – it simply has no idea how things work. It seems nobody involved in the making of it has the even the most basic understanding of human rights, the Russian political system, international finance or simple economics.

For starters – although the video claims to be a “tour of Russian linked properties”…we never get to see any. Instead people point at buildings and say Russians MIGHT own them, or Luke tells us that the properties are bought through secret brokers and off-shore accounts so we’ll never know exactly who owns what. All rather an anti-climax, after they played the Russian national anthem at the beginning.

I mean, certainly it’s true that some Russian people own some property in London, and – yes – that particular house COULD be one of the properties concerned….or it could not.

To redress the racism balance here – we should point out that it’s possible for a Russian person to own a house in London without being a crook, a sentiment noticeably absent from the video.

Further, there’s no analysis of WHY this “dirty money” is in London. Owen Jones, in his only cogent thought in 6 minutes of video, asks a Russian “anti-corruption campaigner” (translation: exiled banker):

Why do so many Russian oligarchs come to London?”

What follows is a couple of jokes about the climate and the scenery…and a frank admission that goes totally over Owen’s head:

There is a service industry of bankers, property estate agents, lawyers who can service you…”

Why do oligarchs prefer to London to Moscow?

It’s a simple question with a simple answer – Britain is soft on financial corruption. It is one of the money laundering centres of the WORLD. Because we don’t make millionaires pay taxes, we don’t charge people with embezzlement and we don’t ask inconvenient questions. We have a weak, soft economy that NEEDS money brought in from overseas – no matter how it was acquired – in order to limp along in any kind of vaguely functional way.

That’s a British problem, not a Russian problem.

Russian oligarchs are more comfortable in London than Moscow. The video never stops to ask what this means.

Luke Harding – always just a few heartbeats away from a total paranoid breakdown – talks about the oligarchs being “squeezed out or put in jail” by Putin’s government, but never makes the obvious point that maybe THAT is why they all live in London now, and do nothing but talk about how evil Putin is.

Two ex-bankers are interviewed – Roman Borisovich and Vladimir Ashurkov – they are credited as “anti-corruption” campaigners, with no reference to their personal wealth, how they acquired it, or why they left the country.

The oligarchs in London have been kicked out of Russia for corruption, and taken their ill-gotten fortunes with them. Most of them hate Putin, and would do anything to undermine his government. This very simple reality is never addressed in the video.

This leads us to the greatest stupidity – the idea that Russian money leaving London and going back Russia would somehow “punish” Putin’s “regime”. It would not. Capital flight is a problem for countries all over the world, retaining Russian wealth in Russian banks would BOOST the Russian economy through investment and taxation. That this very simple logic is apparently beyond Owen Jones and Luke Harding is not surprising.

…but that the two ex-bankers they interview don’t mention it either is very odd. It’s almost as if there’s an undeclared reasoning here.

Perhaps they believe that putting pressure on the ill-gotten assets of Russian oligarchs will result in greater support for a coup or color revolution back home. It’s hard to see that working out, but it’s also impossible to believe that two millionaire ex-bankers don’t know what capital flight is, or that it’s a bad thing.

3. Hypocrisy

As previously mentioned – London is FULL of “dirty money” from all over the world. Saudi Arabian princes, Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, South American drug barons, Texan oil magnates, the Queen…there’s no end to the unsavoury types who keep their loot locked up in Kensington, Chelsea and SoHo.

Earlier this year the Guardian ran full-page ads praising the Saudi Arabian crown prince as a “reformer”. They were paid to do this, by a government with an almost cartoonishly bad human rights record. George Soros – who made his fortune tanking the pound – is regularly allowed column inches to spread his agenda.

Selective moral outrage has long been a problem for the “liberal” west, as is plainly demonstrated by the outrage over Salisbury, compared to the pin-drop silence as Israel gun down Palestinians in Gaza and Saudi Arabia drop bombs on buses full of school-children in Yemen.

(The bombs are made and sold by the UK and US. Theresa May’s husband has financial ties to arms companies, and therefore makes money every time a British bomb kills a Yemeni civilian. There are no videos about that on the Guardian.)

The more specific hypocrisy here belongs to Owen Jones, he made this video about “dirty Russian money”, and at the same time he wrote this article, headlined:

Hungary’s war on democracy is a war on democracy everywhere”

You see, Victor Orban – Hungary’s Prime Minister – is trying to chase billionaire backed NGOs out of Hungary, to stop billionaires influencing Hungarian elections. This is racist, because George Soros is jewish.

Britain needs to stamp down on Russian’s owning houses and going to school here, this is not racist because Russian’s are evil and we’re a democracy.

To the untrained eye, this campaign to take on “dirty Russian money”, could look like a racist exercise designed to punish people simply for being Russian. That’s the worst message you can take from this video – the best message we can take is that we need to object to billionaires influencing democracy…but only when they’re on the other side.


Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

Filed under: latest, On Guardian, Russia

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Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Bufo
Reader
Bufo

“Pecunia non olet” said the Romans, but the Russian Money stinks for The Guardian.

MrShigemitsu
Reader
MrShigemitsu

“We have a weak, soft economy that NEEDS money brought in from overseas – no matter how it was acquired – in order to limp along in any kind of vaguely functional way.” I’m sorry, but whatever the merits or otherwise if this article, the quote above is complete nonsense. The UK Govt, via the BoE, is the monopoly creator of Sterling, the UK’s sovereign, non-convertible, fiat currency. It creates its own currency every day, at a keystroke, simply by crediting the reserve accounts at the retail banks of the initial recipients of any public spending. As such, it not… Read more »

coldish1
Reader

MrShigemitsu: thank you for introducing some sense into this discussion.

David
Reader

Why don’t the government make us all millionaires?

wardropper
Reader

It has something to do with the government imagining that it is some kind of ‘royalty’, and therefore above us.
Only people with a psychotic craving for money and power are to be found in today’s western governments, and this particular psychosis is always in direct proportion to the craving for stopping everybody else from being so rich and powerful.
Normal people are screened out at a very early stage – possibly in kindergarten.

MrShigemitsu
Reader
MrShigemitsu

“Why don’t the government make us all millionaires?”

If you’re replying to me, it’s because that would be massively inflationary, unless we were all producing enough real resources to absorb that spending (which would be impossible in reality).

There is absolutely a limit to govt spending, but it’s not the number of currency units at its disposal, which is infinite, but the capacity of the nation’s real productive resources to absorb that spending without causing an inflationary boom.

To quote Stephanie Kelton: “The US Govt could buy every American a pony – IF there were enough ponies.”

Dontask
Reader
Dontask

Just spooks – they recruit them young give them training in being ‘radical’ and ‘cool’ – they get a year or so in a US university sometimes to learn ‘journalism’ , get induced into the ‘Mockingbird’ club and are injected into the MSM to do their masters bidding – from Langley. Owen blew his cover when he was asked to turn on Corbyn after first being all momentumy about his election, when he wasn’t supposed to win and then refused to stand down. Owen lost all credibility. Now big spook daddy Harding is holding his hand and bringing him out… Read more »

WeatherEye
Reader

Off Guardian should start a trend of using The Guardian as toilet paper.

balkydj
Reader

it won’t catch on, seriously: would you trust Luke Harding & Owen Jones to absorb and cleanse, hygienically , with 3 Ply ? Balky thinking on ‘Wet , Wet Whets’ chosen bed to lie in, ‘Diss-proportionate’ .. Your plan sounds like a recipe for Haemorrhoids & rough justice , that would promote verbal diarrhoea and a massive out break of sewer like social discontent, leading to disease of the mind >> if nothing else, because of the Guardian’s utterly pathetic chosen style of toilet music, in their video >> Balky recommends hitting the mute button & infusing a dose of… Read more »

theroyalsecretinfo
Reader

I should have added that the main reason Russians are in the UK is first that they do not trust the Americans. Secondly for the same reason when the handful of young men spotted the opportunities after the fall of the USSR they need money to purchase resource companies which could be bought for fractions of their value. They found it in London and bankers willing to lend it and share in the rewards. These young men became the oligarchs of today who have long established commercial roots in London who help to invest their exported funds in London and… Read more »

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

The campaign is inherently ‘antisemitic’ (but what isn’t these days?). The ‘oligarchs’ who looted the Soviet Union were overwhelmingly Jewish. They did so, (once that fact was ceased being denied), because the ‘antisemitism’ in the Soviet had forced them to become adept at chicanery and theft, or so we were told as the Western fakestream media moved to idolising them as ‘entrepreneurs’. And the economic ‘shock therapy’ policies that pillaged the country and killed millions prematurely and caused social devastation, were organised by Jeffrey Sachs and a cabal of fellow (dare I say it?) Jewish ‘economists’ from Harvard. So ‘dirty… Read more »

theroyalsecretinfo
Reader

The City of London deals in money. It is in fact the money exchange centre of the world. If it was to ask or care where its money came from it would probably need close down. The Russians are no more or less to be accused of dirty money than any other investor. The subject is subjective. This has always been the case and if it were to change the UK would become a much poorer (moneywise) place.

bevin
Reader
bevin

It is important to bear in mind that the origins of the current Russophobia lie in the determination of the City, (which has, to put it mildly, enormous influence over its subsidiaries the Tory party, of both shades, and the media, which it owns-its media) to bring down the current Russian government and re-institute a Yeltsin style regime to loot Russia and to decimate its population. It is no more complicated than that: the question that Russians have to ask themselves is whether capitalism is a viable alternative for them to pursue, given that its local logic is to reduce… Read more »

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

Were EU regulators coming too close to clipping the City of London Corporation’s wings? In that case: Brexit! The city to stay the off shore Caymans of Europe & many others – but not for Putin.

Fair dinkum.
Reader
Fair dinkum.

The ownership of prime real estate is hidden from the gaze of ordinary mortals and the tax collectors.
We know who owns MP$$$$$$$$$and journalist$$$$$$$$

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

The City Corporation of London – the (deepest)State in the state – spelled out in 2011 here: https://www.newstatesman.com/economy/2011/02/london-corporation-city

English, not Russian although foreign firms out vote the few UK citizens there. The majority will be American or Gulf oil probably.

tutisicecream
Reader

Owen and Harding’s magical mystery tour of the Russian kleptocrats who have made their homes and parked their ill gotten gains in London [many appear to be on the bus!]. It’s hard to imagine a more pointless film. It is as Kit says pure racist based propaganda. The theft that has taken place in Russia only mirrors what is institutionalised in western based kleptocracies. If anything Putin has tried to stem the flow of criminal money from Russia and tax the oligarchs. Whether he has been successful is rather like asking the same question in the west. If we consider… Read more »

Yarkob
Reader
Yarkob

owen jones cementing his useful idiot status with customary lack of self-awareness and panache. every time i find myself liking jones i watch his car crash interview and flounce out of the studio at being asked to face reality. he’s like a small child

writerroddis
Reader
writerroddis

Snap! Jones can occasionally write something pretty good. In this he’s like his more heavyweight colleague, George Monbiot. But their useful idiot de facto complicity with imperialism – and failure to call out the Graun on its no platforming of such counter voices as Pilger, Hersh, Beeley and Bartlett – ultimately count for more.

BTW, nice piece Kit.

balkydj
Reader

Wot’ ? You’ve found moments actually liking Jones’y , Yarkob ? WTF ? The precocious self-adulating & flagellating Oxbridge sycophant , with zero real world experience and a mindset not worthy of a small child and the general knowledge of a peanut .. !? Riddle me this, Yarkob :- What do you call ‘Puke’ Harding & ‘Rowin’ Jones chained together , attached to a concrete block at the bottom of the Mariana Trench ? A good start for the Guardianista .. ! ? (in Balky’s book) 🙂 So glad you touched on his customary lack of self – awareness ,… Read more »

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

Off topic but specially for local Israel hater & China lover Mulga Muble: China will operate Haifa port, near Israel’s alleged nuclear-armed submarines, and it seems no one in Israel thought about the strategic ramifications https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-israel-is-giving-china-the-keys-to-its-largest-port-and-the-u-s-navy-may-abandon-israel-1.6470527

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

I DO love how you Zionazis SO fear China’s rise. China is prepared to treat Israel like every other country on Earth, but not bow, grovel and prostrate themselves before the self-appointed ‘Gods Upon the Earth’, as your idol Begin described his people.

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

Maybe they gave it a lot of thought _ _ _ _
and decided to back a winner.
The ‘old nag’ is ready to be put out to pasture.

archie1954
Reader

“The Queen…..there’s no end to the unsavoury types”. Not funny, please remove reference to our Sovereign from that comment. She, as you well know, has nothing to do with anything illegal or unsavoury. Haven’t you heard of lese majeste laws?

Jams O'Donnell
Reader

Surely you jest?

dmass
Reader
dmass

No such law in the U.K. Come to crappy Thailand for that.
The one reason the ridiculous institution still exists in U.K. is we can say what we like about the parasites
without fearing the knock on the door.
Come to Thailand and try criticising the royal parasites here, and you’ll get 25 years.
Very democratic…

Jen
Reader
Jen

There may be another reason why RT was threatened with the loss of its broadcasting licence by Ofcom – this news was just recently published: “Serial numbers of missile that downed MH17 show it was produced in 1986, owned by Ukraine – Russia” https://www.rt.com/news/438596-mh17-downing-russian-briefing/ Why this news may be significant, is that everything the Russian armed forces now use, including ammunition, has to have been made since 2010. All other military materiel with a date of manufacture before 2010 was decommissioned. In addition the Russian military traced the document trail attached to that missile’s serial numbers and found the missile… Read more »

Big B
Reader
Big B

And the Russians ‘didn’t know’ this until now? What else do the Russian’s ‘not know’? There is a high level diplomatic 3D-Chess game in motion that we mortals are not privy to: not even on a need to know basis. One can only hope the current world leadership know what they are doing. The common sense attitude and the lesson of history, however, is that they do not. Which is why I surmise a collective, rather than an elite autonomy, as the only possible solution.

kingfelix
Reader

London is the global hub for drug smuggling, sex trafficking, money laundering, and arms dealing. Owen Jones is a complete fool, who thinks his mix of working-class experience and Oxbridge education provides him with particular insight into, well, just about every political issue of the day. But one thing neither of those components provide is any first-hand experience of how governments, banks, and the super-rich actually function, which is why Jones retains a streak of idealism that appeals to the kids, but is nothing more than stunning naivete.

Francis Lee
Reader
Francis Lee

The fact that the City of London is where all the world’s dirty money is put through the car-wash is not exactly a secret. The Eurodollar market was also set up in London whereby US banks could operate outside of the laws and institutions overseeing their behaviour on the other side of the pond. Not for nothing was the City of London referred to as US Banking’s Guantanamo since they could do things in London that they would not have gotten away with in New York. I am also reminded of the City’s rather sullied record and impropriety with regard… Read more »

Antonyl
Reader
Antonyl

The BCCI had a head office in London too till it folded in 1991: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Credit_and_Commerce_International
It was the go to place for Jihadis and the CIA…

bevin
Reader
bevin

“..have had to stump up fines for facilitating transactions with rogue nations such as Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar in violation of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) sanctions.” In other words they helped break US imposed sanctions designed to wreck these countries’ economies. It will be a very good thing if London banks prevent the US from sanctioning Iran and North Korea in coming months. ” Lawsky found the bank to have hidden an astonishing $250bn worth of illicit transactions for Iran and Iran-based clients” What the US government calls money laundering is often action taken to facilitate… Read more »

JA139
Reader
JA139

When was this video released? The trees in London are bare of leaves so it must have been filmed at least 6 months ago. The city of london is the most squalid offshore money laundering centre of the world – for anyone’s money from any country. And please, how can anyone take that plagiarising clown Harding at anything other than cartoon idiocy level. Shame on the Guardian. When you think that rag can go no lower, it does. BTW, Russia released evidence claiming the infamous buk that downed the malaysian flight was definitely owned by Ukraine. Irrespective of the merits… Read more »

Mulga Mumblebrain
Reader
Mulga Mumblebrain

‘Shame on the Guardian’? Impossible!

Admin
Moderator
Admin

It was published back in April

harry stotle
Reader
harry stotle

Needless to say we are being softened up – just as 19 hijackers were used to rationalise decades of blood-shed in the Middle East, so Russia has to be punished for preventing Britains corrupt elite from buying up even more fabulously wealthy property in places like Knightsbridge and Kensington. The carnage that is bound to ensue if there is full blown conflict between the west and Russia is almost certainly worth it because no patriot will sleep well in his or her bed until Britains uber-wealthy can acquire an even bigger share of the country’s rapidly diminishing assets. Hardings genuine… Read more »

rtj1211
Reader

Well, I am certainly not contributing to Owen Jones’ pocket money….. But I would suggest that if he goes on question time again he should be called ‘bum chum Owen’ or ‘Owen the poof’ as payback for being a two-faced jew-loving racist. Of course if he calls George Soros a nazi-appeasing, pound-hating sleaze bag; Ukraine a bankrupt US vassal for Cargill et al; and a few other unpalatable home truths come out, then calling him Mr Jones or Owen may become more likely. Would be great fun putting him in the dock for 15 minutes. London has Ukrainian billionaire properties… Read more »

mog
Reader

Horrific. Spoke with a ‘centrist dad’ the other night and heard close up the propensity toward outright racism in the liberal mindset. ‘ Let us take, for example, so important a country in the capitalist world as the United States of America. There millions of people have been set into motion by the crisis. The program for the recovery of capitalism has collapsed. Vast masses are beginning to abandon the bourgeois parties and are at present at the crossroads. Embryo American fascism is trying to direct the disillusionment and discontent of these masses into reactionary fascist channels. It is a… Read more »

Jen
Reader
Jen

Excellent documentary covering not just the City of London but also various other topics on corporate tax evasion, the role of offshore tax havens, the role of trusts and how financialisation devastates economies, increases poverty and encourages corruption in politics.

Quite a lot of detail on some topics like trusts but there was hardly anything on transfer pricing as a tool of tax evasion. Companies with subsidiaries in different countries (including tax havens) can use transfer pricing to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions and avoid paying tax. How this works is best explained at this link:
https://taxandsupernewsroom.com.au/transfer-pricing/

Jerry Alatalo
Reader

“The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire” is both an extremely important and timely documentary, along with being one of the very rare, brilliantly made films which people who watch will never, ever forget. It is not any surprise whatsoever the film has rocketed to over 170,000 views in two days since being posted on YouTube @ “Independent POV” channel.

Peace.

mog
Reader

‘The reality is not what you believe, that the prime minister has the power to decide on the future of your country. The power is hidden here.’
Eva Jolly – MEP, Vice chair of the Panama Papers Committee (European Parliament)