I feel offended, doubly offended. First, as a person; second, as a subject of his majesty, King Felipe VI. Well, and also, since we are here, as a citizen of the Spanish-speaking world.
Why does Vladimir Putin despise me – despise us – so much? Why does he discriminate against us? How is it that he considers us second-class people, inferior to the inhabitants of English-speaking countries?
I am referring, of course, to his blacklist of undesirables, almost all of them from the United States and Great Britain, including several journalists for whom I feel a bursting envy. On the list are Joseph Biden, Boris Johnson, the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, actors Morgan Freeman and Sean Penn and more than a thousand famous and not so famous figures of the so-called anglosphere. The punishment: Putin has banned them from entering Russia indefinitely.
Among the British journalists, 41 to date, are the directors of the BBC, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian Y The Independent and a couple of old friends of mine. But Spanish and Latin Americans, not one. We are not important, we are not worthy of his attention. Reminds me of a line from the movie White House. A character says to the protagonist, played by Humphrey Bogart: “You despise me, Rick, don’t you?” Rick replies, “If I ever thought about you, probably.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has explained that the measures against British journalists are the response to “anti-Russian hysteria” and the “unbridled dissemination of information in a London political campaign that seeks to isolate Russia”. It is understood. But what pain it causes me that they do not include me, I who have done almost everything in my power to stir up the aforementioned unbridled hysteria against Putin! I have written that he is a madman, a butcher, a self-conscious, an amoral narcissist who seeks glory like his ancestors, the Czars, in outdated notions of imperial expansion. But never mind. Neither me nor the many Hispanic journalists who have written similar things.
The humiliating thing for all of us is that if I continued to publish regularly in media outlets for which I worked in less illustrious times of my career, such as The Times or the BBC, I’m pretty sure I could have the honor of being able to tell everyone that I was on Putin’s blacklist, that I wouldn’t be allowed on Russian soil.
It is an injustice that there is no Spaniard on Putin’s blacklist, why does he discriminate against us?
But let’s forget about me and other members of my unworthy profession. Let us think of powerful figures such as the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, or the leader of the main opposition party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo. Unlike the clown Johnson, the clown Truss and even the gray leader of the British Labor Party Keir Starmer, they are not on Putin’s list either. The United Kingdom is a country that is becoming more and more decrepit, but there Putin does cast his gaze as an insecure predator while at the same time disdaining a serious nation, an honorable member of the European Union, such as Spain.
I hope that the Russian embassy in Madrid interprets my words for what they are, a formal complaint about the impolite treatment of me. But, speaking more seriously, what is now incumbent on the Spanish government is to make common cause with the Hispanic international brotherhood and, at the very least, threaten to withdraw its ambassadors from Russian territory until this injustice is corrected.
Okay. It is done. I have said it. I have vented my anger and feel better. Now it’s time to take a deep breath and try to see the bright side of this misfortune. Total, there is no evil that for good does not come. And the thought that comes to mind is that if you can’t beat your enemy, join him. Following a 53-second video I just saw on YouTube, it occurs to me that I should take advantage of the unfortunate circumstance of not being banned from entering Russia and consider moving there.
I explain. The video, a Russian production broadcast (of course) in English, is a kind of commercial whose purpose is to convince foreigners to emigrate to Putin’s homeland. With admirable economy, beautiful pictures and soulful music, we are given a list of the supposedly unique attractions that Russia possesses. A solemn voice details them: “Delicious cuisine, beautiful women, cheap gas, a rich history, great literature, fertile land, cheap electricity, ballet and cheap taxis.” At first I thought it was a joke, a parody of a tourist advertisement, especially when I saw that the phrase “beautiful women” was accompanied by an image of a pair of blonde girls, about six years old, running through a meadow. “What? -I asked myself-. Is this a joke in bad taste about pedophilia?
With the threat of winter coming, a video invites Europeans to emigrate to Russia to keep warm
But not. I did some digging and it turns out the video is serious. It has been issued with the approval of the Russian authorities.
Oh, and I almost forgot: in those intense 53 seconds, he offers even more reason to move to Russia. “Traditional values, Christianity and vodka”, plus “an economy capable of withstanding thousands of sanctions”. This being Putin’s Russia, the announcement ends with a threat: “Winter is coming”, winter is coming. In other words, a message addressed to Europeans to whom Russia is closing access to electricity and gas. Come to Russia now, before you all freeze to death.
I don’t know whether to accept the offer. I suspect that in winter I will bear less cold in Barcelona without heating than in Moscow with, and that the cuisine may be even more delicious here. Cheap taxis attract me, like vodka and pretty women. But the traditional values thing makes me think that in order to integrate into Russian society I will have to learn to live with homophobia and, as for how I am supposed to relate to women, it reminds me of the time that Putin congratulated that Russian prostitutes were “undoubtedly the best in the world”. Accuse me of an excess of political correctness, but that does not suit me.
I am aware that a decision will have to be made now or never, since Putin is losing his war, he may fall and the gracious offer of asylum may disappear with him. But still, on second thought, I think not. Better not. No offense to me, Vladimir, but I will not accept his invitation. Thanks but no. grandson. Nope.