From the Times (UK):
With all the seriousness that it can muster, the Commmunist Party of St Petersburg has accused the new Bond girl of treachery. Its argument rests on two claims: that Bond films are Western propaganda, and that Olga Kurylenko – for that is her real name – was raised and educated free of charge by the Soviet Union, which she now implicitly attacks by appearing alongside a British spy so influential that his real-world status as the embodiment of a thousand escapist fantasies is immaterial.
Kurylenko is 28 and from Ukraine. This means that the Soviet Union actually relinquished her to free markets and democracy at the age of 11, having thoroughly oppressed, irradiated and impoverished her country first.
But the article takes an odd twist:
Still, the St Petersburg Communists have a point. How would we feel if Daniel Craig defected to Moscow to star in the new wave of patriotic Russian films that the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to fund? Or if John Cleese, nurtured and lionised by British audien- ces from the era of Monty Python to his accession to the mythic role of Q, signed on to the payroll of resurgent Russian nationalism and gloried in their gadgets?
Outraged, that’s how. But the St Petersburgers’ argument does have one serious catch. The Bond film franchise has never, in any of its forms, been anti-Russian. Even in the depths of the Cold War its chief villains were freelancers. When Smersh fielded an assassin to take out 007 once and for all, he was an Irishman. In another caper the KGB turned its top operative loose on him, but to little effect. Remember Agent XXX? Bond does. She was the spy who loved him.
Do the Communists in Russia really have a point? I commented on their page asking if the author felt that Bollywood (India’s Hollywood) had the right to exist after independence and their own Victorian Holocaust that killed between 12 and 29 million people, with a story very similar to the Holodomor:
These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. When an El Niño drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at the height of the famine, grain merchants exported a record 6.4m hundredweight of wheat. As the peasants began to starve, officials were ordered “to discourage relief works in every possible way”. The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 prohibited “at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices”. The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. In the labour camps, the workers were given less food than inmates of Buchenwald. In 1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of 94%.
As millions died, the imperial government launched “a militarised campaign to collect the tax arrears accumulated during the drought”. The money, which ruined those who might otherwise have survived the famine, was used by Lytton to fund his war in Afghanistan. Even in places that had produced a crop surplus, the government’s export policies, like Stalin’s in Ukraine, manufactured hunger. In the north-western provinces, Oud and the Punjab, which had brought in record harvests in the preceeding three years, at least 1.25m died.
I’m still waiting for my comment to be approved.
Edit: It got approved!