A tale of modern Russia – and London

The latest instalment in my holiday reading has been Peter Pomerantsev’s . I’d started it on the train home from the bookstore where I bought it a few weeks ago and only saved the bulk for the holiday with the utmost exercise of willpower. It’s a brilliant book. Pomerantsev, a TV producer and writer brought up in the UK and living in London again now, spent some years working for a Moscow TV station. His account of the people he met through his documentary making and in everyday Moscow life is utterly illuminating about the state of Russia.

[amazon_image id=”0571308015″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia[/amazon_image]

It would be impossible to do justice to the book by summarising it. Just read it. Mainly of course the book is about Russia. But it is also terrifying about the scope in the modern world for manipulating belief through the media, the combination of techniques from Goebbels and post-modern spin doctoring.

Above all, though, the final part of the book made it clear that today’s Russia is only possible because of today’s global financial system and especially today’s London, with the bankers, accountants and lawyers who are totally complicit in the handling of corrupt Russian money – not to mention all the armies of service businesses happy to feed on it.

When David Cameron recently made his speech saying London was no place for dirty money I was surprised nobody called him out on the hypocrisy of the sentiment, because London is of course the world capital of dirty money, among other things destroying the functioning of our capital’s housing market. Perhaps if the UK government turns out to be serious about eliminating the flow of illegal and corrupt funds, it will only be the case that some other offshore financial centre is willing to pick up the role. So be it. I’ll be surprised if it turns out Mr Cameron really meant it, however, given the extent to which the City depends on that flow of money. But he ought to – we should not allow gangster states the credibility of being able to use our capital city to cleanse their money.

Now onto another novel – Kamel Daoud’s .

[amazon_image id=”B00XUM79EK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Meursault Investigation[/amazon_image]

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