Beginning with the rise of Russophobia in Victorian Britain, former MI5 director general Stella Rimington explores our love-hate relationship with Russia over the past 150 years. The journey takes her to the East End of London on the trail of Russian revolutionaries and to the former mining town of Chopwell, once dubbed Little Moscow. She talks to former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and shares recollections of the bugged British embassy in Moscow with former ambassador Rodric Braithwaite.
The British Council has been in Russia long enough to know that its activities there are only legitimate if the government deems them to be so
The British Council in Russia, now under heavy pressure from the Putin government, insists it is a cultural organisation - and that for this reason Russian authorities should leave it alone and allow it to go about its business. As a cultural organisation working in Russia, the council is now learning some tough lessons about the culture of the country in which it operates.(read more in Guardian)
Any Russian knows that all cultural activity is ideological: be it a musical or film festival, an exhibition, or a play. Even those who have not learnt this wisdom from their school textbooks and government-controlled media, have imbibed it with their Soviet mothers' milk. What did the British Council do in Russia? Its website boasts that last summer its St Petersburg office organised a roundtable discussion, Tolerance and City Culture, and that "experts from universities, non-governmental organisations, community organisations and local authorities from Russia and UK shared their experience of tackling racism and building cultural cohesion". Is this a cultural activity? Surely not. Propaganda for British views, pure and clear. Which means ideology. And who gave the Brits the right to spread their ideology in Russia, particularly at a time when political relations have become difficult?