In an apparent burst of openness, Vladimir Putin’s government agreed to lift a ban on public protests during the Sochi Games.
Without a hint of embarrassment, the ministry decreed that demonstrations would be allowed only in the village of Khosta.
The official protest zone is located in a park halfway between Sochi and the main Olympic coastal venues at Adler. Even the designated location for the protests seems like a joke.
The 50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War Park is at least seven and half miles away from any of the Olympic sporting action or the main pedestrian thoroughfares.
It lies in the shadow of an elevated six-lane expressway next to a busy rail line.
Most daunting of all, anyone wishing to attend a demonstration during the Olympics must by law provide police with their personal details well before a permit allowing the protest will be issued.
Even those willing to risk submitting their names to exercise their limited right to free speech won’t have an easy time of it.
There has been one protest of seven members of the Communist Party.
- Ten people were arrested in Moscow during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
- Everyone from Channel 4 to Google has made some attempt to prove themsleves more pro-LGBT rights than the Russian state. That isn’t hard, to be honest. However, hypocrisy in changing mastheads sometimes seems just a little tokenistic. The “left wing” magazine the New Statesman seems to forgotten about its full page advert “supporting men and women who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference”. The advert was placed in 2012 by Core—“God’s heart in sexual and relational brokenness”. The magazine said the ad was a mistake.
Michael Gove dropped by the Daily Telegraph on Buckingham Palace Road to give an interview last week. His government chauffeur managed to drive his car into the side of the building afterwards. Gove cracked a joke about the car being fine because Jags are built in Britain. He then hopped in a cab, leaving the driver to deal with the paperwork.
£80 billion bankers’ bonuses bombshell
A shocking £80 billion in bank bonuses has been handed out since the financial crisis erupted in 2008, figures are expected to reveal.
Research by campaign group the Robin Hood Tax campaign found a total of £67.7 billion in bonuses had been paid to finance staff since 2008.
The figure included £14 billion in the 12 months to last March.
If the industry shells out a similar amount this year, that will take the total amount paid since 2008 to £81.7 billion.
We are just about to enter into the bonus season where lavish payouts are given to high flyers when banks announce their annual results.
Barclays was set to announce its bonus pool has jumped by a nice
10 percent to £2.4 billion, alongside bumper profits this year.
Taliban hound SAS in Afghanistan
The Taliban has released footage of a “special ops” dog they captured.
They said the dog, now called Colonel, was wearing a GPS tracking device, a torch and small camera.
According to the Daily Express, “The dog is seen to wag its tail but only perks up when the militants start chanting Allahu Akbar.”
The Daily Mail moaned, “Now the Who Dares Wins regiment wants the dog of war back—in observation of their unwritten mantra that no one gets left behind.”
The Ministry of Defence refused to comment. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said the dog was being looked after and was in good health.
Despite calls for military chiefs to plot a rescue, Army sources said this was unlikely.
Eric Pickles’ department may have cooked the books to disguise what they spent on biscuits. News broke last year of a £10,000 hike in the annual budget for custard creams. Officials responded by moving several payments from one financial year to the other— reducing the apparent increase.
TOFF OF THE WEEK PRESENTS: Prince William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten Windsor, Duke of Cambridge
- Flew off on a hunting trip days before taking part in a campaign to highlight poaching
- Accompanied by his brother, Prince Harry, shot wild boar and stag at an estate owned by one of the wealthiest men in Britain, the Duke of Westminster
- Frequent visitor to Finca La Garganta, the most exclusive hunting estate in western Europe
There’s an app for having no ideas left
Viscount Younger of Leckie, a hereditary peer and parliamentary under secretary of state for intellectual property, visited a west London school last week.
There he launched an app called Music Inc. This lets players manage a musician and “educate them on specific challenges encountered by artists in the digital age”. By which they mean copyright.
Odd, since the whole event appears to have been copied from the first episode of series four of The Thick of It.
Stop the witch hunt against Tory MPs
Troublemaker is happy to announce that regular copy provider Aidan Burley MP is to stand down at the next election.
Not everyone is happy. One senior Tory backbencher declared Burley’s organising a Nazi-themed stag do as “hi-jinx”.
Arch Thatcherite Sir Gerald Howarth told the BBC, “We’ve all done it from time to time.”
Howarth, who chairs Conservative Way Forward and was a minister under Cameron until September 2012, said, “I think that it’s a very nasty witch hunt”.
The Things They Say...
‘What do you want me to do, sit under a tree and read Karl Marx every day?’
The RMT union’s Bob Crow defends himself against attacks for having a holiday
‘I am very fortunate in having a marvellous nanny, Miss Veronica Crook, who after 47 years is still looking after my family. Nothing is more reliable than nanny’
Tory banker toff Jacob Rees-Mogg, aged 44
‘Please follow @BosunMurray and vote for him’
South East Cornwall Tory MP Sheryll Murray asks people to help her cat’s Twitter account win a competition. Nothing happening in Cornwall this week?
‘It may be a little while before they are able to dispose of that investment’
James Featherby, the chair of the Church of England’s ethical investment advisory group, explains why it hasn’t sold its shares in loan shark Wonga