Saturday, March 12, 2022

Supporting the Guardian, Cancelling the Independent


This morning I learned, from a comment left on an 
Independent article, that the paper is owned by Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev and controlled by the latter. I've been subscribing for a couple of years but today I cancelled, and subscribed to the Guardian instead. 

Vladimir Putin is a psychopath who has committed countless, savage war crimes, for which he bears responsibility, but it's also true he has only been able to acquire the power he has now because in the West we've enabled him with our dependence on Russian resources and our qualified 'condemnation' bred of our fear of losing the benefits of trade with Russia. In the UK we've allowed dirty Russian money to infiltrate politics. But apart from these giant issues, and that if we had focused on green energy years ago we wouldn't need Russian oil and gas, I have to admit that I've played my part in that enablement by not checking up on what money is being used to create, control or prop up resources I access.

As far as I've been able to see, the Independent is free to publish what it wants, which of course is vital and counts in the Lebedevs’ favour, but it's not the only thing that matters. In the Evening Standard, which they also own, Evgeny Lebedev wrote passionately about his family's record of defending freedom of the press in the UK and Russia and hotly denied that he is in any way connected to Putin. It makes for convincing reading. He also pointed out that he wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin, also published in the Evening Standard, pleading with him to stop the war. It’s a short letter, doesn’t go into much detail. Very politely phrased.

Hardly the kind of condemnation from somebody who has severed all ties to a psychopath dictator, is outraged by their war crimes, and neither wants nor needs anything from them. Evgeny also mentioned the £50,000 raised by his papers’ campaigns for Ukrainians. Great. Perhaps he contributed the bulk; who knows? But he’s allegedly worth about £300 million. He could have quadrupled the amount twenty times over and not noticed the effect on his bank account.

You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Evgeny has long been great pals with the easily corruptible, self-deluded serial liar and cheat who is our esteemed Prime Minister and who has profited wonderfully from that support, which goes back to his campaign for mayor. We, on the other hand, have all suffered, and are still suffering (those of us who are alive), as a consequence of that bolstering by Evgeny – and Johnson’s other powerful friends with deep pockets – which didn’t stop at mayor but elevated him to the most powerful political position in the country. A position he is neither equipped for nor deserves in any way at all.

We’re not the only ones suffering. So are Ukrainian refugees, subjected to inhumane treatment by our government which brags about being in the vanguard of support with as little regard for the truth, and the suffering that lying creates, as Vladimir Putin has.

Further to the company people keep, in 2017 and 2018 Evgeny Lebedev sold 30% stakes in the Independent and the Evening Standard to companies registered in the Cayman Islands, through a series of “unconventional, complex and clandestine” deals. The front man was Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, a Saudi businessman who has connections with the Saudi state-owned bank Al Ahli bank. According to an article published in the Guardian in 2019, neither paper knows who employs him.

In a nutshell, the Independent is sustained with money from mega wealthy individuals or organisations from two countries with hideous human rights abuse records and with connections to the heads of state of those countries.

It’s easy to be lazy and dismiss all these things; say to myself it’s all hearsay, and what harm can I do by subscribing to the Independent? But the reality is that the small things are building blocks and now we’re up against a giant monolith of megalomania created from those small blocks. So, I'm cancelling my subscription to the Independent. 

The Guardian is controlled by the Scott Trust Ltd, and as far as I can see there are no oligarchs with former or current links to Putin on the board. The current board members are listen below, in the screenshot from the trust’s Wiki page.


I wasn't asked to write this article or paid or given a discount by the Guardian.