The Russian state’s propaganda machine was at full throttle long before Britain demanded to know why a nerve agent manufactured in the country was used in an attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
From its Ministry of Foreign Affairs late on Monday came a copy of one of this newspaper’s reports on the dubious legitimacy of the nation hosting this summer’s World Cup, with a crude ‘False Information’ stamp printed across it.
The Ministry complained of ‘a full-scale Western media campaign to discredit Russia and undermine its credibility as the host of this sporting event’.
Theresa May said it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was responsible for a spy attack in Salisbury
It stated that: ‘The British… cannot forgive Russia the fact that it was our country that won the right to host the World Cup in a fair fight.’
The effrontery would have been breathtaking were it not so utterly predictable.
The cold and uncomfortable facts where Russia’s so-called ‘fair fight’ is concerned are that the World Cup — a glittering propaganda opportunity for Putin’s presidential election year — was almost certainly secured through bribes and backhanders. And that the country has frustrated any efforts to get to the truth.
FIFA investigated all the 2018 and 2022 bids yet Russia was the only country not to co-operate.
It told the governing body’s investigators that its 2018 bid team’s computers had been ‘destroyed’. They had ‘rented the equipment,’ Russia 2018’s organising committee chief, Alexey Sorokin, claimed.
‘We had to give it back. Then it went back. We don’t even know where it went.’ This was a ‘dog-ate-my-homework’ explanation like no other.
The World Cup was almost certainly secured by Moscow through bribes and backhanders
This World Cup was almost certainly secured by Moscow through bribes and backhanders
Neither were emails made available to investigators. Russia claimed Google had not responded to requests for access to old Gmail accounts. FIFA’s lawyer Michael Garcia was banned from travelling to Russia to undertake the investigation. Draw your own conclusions.
The stench emanating from Russia is far fouler than that, though, because of the scandal two years ago which unequivocally should have removed the faintest prospect of Russia hosting the World Cup: the state-sponsored doping programme which was laid bare by Professor Richard McLaren.
McLaren’s 2016 report for the World Anti-Doping Agency demonstrated the lengths Russia went to in its desperate striving for national honour at Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on which Putin had lavished £36billion for new facilities.
McLaren revealed how the nation’s intelligence services worked through the night to manipulate urine samples of doped Winter Olympics competitors — just so the country could improve on its pathetically poor showing at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
He exposed an eagerness to cheat across all platforms: the feeding of a three-drug cocktail of banned…