August 21, 2014

French politician and businessman to build historical theme parks in Russia and Crimea

Russia needs now more than ever supporters in the West. Or rather any well-known Europeans who would readily accept Russian money and Byzantine courtesy, and above all turn a blind eye to the Russian parallel reality and the serious threat posed by Muscovy to Ukraine and Europe as a whole. Putin seems willing to generously reward, and obviously let exploit by his propaganda machine, any new Schröders and Depardieus. To give to the Russians the false impression that he is still accepted and even praised by Western personalities and celebrities, and to seed as much discord as possible in European politics and public debate.

Russia needs now more than ever supporters in the West. Or rather any well-known Europeans who would readily accept Russian money and Byzantine courtesy, and above all turn a blind eye to the Russian parallel reality and the serious threat posed by Muscovy to Ukraine and Europe as a whole. Putin seems willing to generously reward, and obviously let exploit by his propaganda machine, any new Schröders and Depardieus. To give to the Russians the false impression that he is still accepted and even praised by Western personalities and celebrities, and to seed as much discord as possible in European politics and public debate.

The Moscow Times online announced on August 15 Putin’s newest acquisition, the French businessman and eurosceptic politician Philippe de Villiers (65), who supposedly got the Russian president’s approval to build historically themed amusement parks in Russia (Moscow) and in the recently occupied Crimea. De Villiers has opened already in 1977 the Puy du Fou, a large theme park that is one of France’s biggest tourism attractions. So he knows the business, whereas the Russian theme parks are for him just another splendid opportunity to earn big money. He was quoted by Interfax denouncing European sanctions and calling for investing in Russia.

On one hand, this is just another example of greed and cynical neglect of European democratic values. On the other hand, it proves again who are Putin’s friends and allies in Europe: Viktor Orbán, Marine le Pen and the like. Those whom democratically minded Europeans detest.

In addition, this may well add to the embarassement of France in the struggle to achieve political consensus in the European Union and with the United States on how to stop Putin’s aggression. The French government managed to extract the much contested sale of Mistral amphibious assault ships from the third package of European sanctions against Russia, but it won’t stop or even publicly blame new Gérard Depardieus and Philippe de Villiers, which is equally frustrating. These people, like some CEOs of big companies (e.g. Total, like the German Siemens AG and others) with interests in Russia, will continue to bend over to find ways to justify business as usual with the Kremlin, because the Russian corruption has found its way and its beneficiaries in Europe.

Finally, in this context it is rather ironic to recall that Philippe de Villiers’ brother Pierre is the present highest military commander of France (Chef d’Etat Major des Armées). From 2008, France has reintegrated into NATO’s military structures and has taken her duties in the Transatlantic alliance very seriously. General Pierre de Villiers is a good commander, but – in stark contrast – his brother shows how purely parochial self-interest undermines the spirit of allied solidarity and collective security. Whereas the French government itself offers the best example by its total unwillingnes to at least postpone the Mistral ship sale.

Russia will certainly use the Mistral ships, once these are armed and integrated into its navy. Against whom? What would France say when the Russian target will be one of its NATO allies? Or any other country for that matter.

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