Posts Tagged ‘david blair’

May 2012

Deception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West by Edward Lucas: review

Daily Telegraph

The risks involved in probing the seamy underside of Russian life are shown by the fate of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Flung into jail for 11 months, he was eventually forced into a straitjacket and beaten to death on the floor of his cell.

His crime? Magnitsky was representing Hermitage Capital Management, a British-based fund manager, in a long-standing dispute with the Russian authorities over trumped-up charges of tax evasion. In the process, he had discovered how powerful Russians had stolen $230 million from their own government by fraudulently securing the biggest tax rebate in the country’s history.

His ordeal says much about the harsh realities of power in today’s Russia, according to Edward Lucas, a senior journalist at The Economist. In his book Deception, he sets out to show how a venal and amoral state is cynically exploiting the openness of Western free societies to spread tentacles of influence and corruption.

Espionage is the chosen tool of the hard men in the Kremlin and Russian spies are doing their utmost to penetrate our institutions, distort our decision-making and make off with our secrets. Thus Anna Chapman, the agent who resembled a Playboy playmate, lived undercover for years in Britain and the US before being unmasked. Lucas wants to alert us to the scale of the peril: he thinks we do not grasp how ambitious this espionage campaign has become, nor the inherent vulnerability of free societies.
He goes so far as to argue that the West risks becoming as rotten as Russia if the Kremlin’s agents are allowed to continue their work. Instead of Russia slowly normalising and becoming more like us, Lucas thinks we could end up becoming more like them.

Thus he approvingly quotes an observer who writes: “Those who keep calling for an engagement that will eventually transform Russia cannot see that it is the West, not Russia, that is being transformed.” Lucas adds: “I hope this book can help the West to avoid that fate.”

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