Saturday, 20 October 2018

Donald and the Russians

Luke Harding
Phyllis Court Club

LUKE Harding is a foreign correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, well known for his books covering WikiLeaks, the Russian FSB, the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, Edward Snowden and the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

In conversation with fellow journalist Hannah MacInnes, Harding discussed his latest work, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.

Harding recounted his somewhat darkly amusing experiences with the Russian FSB, which he called a “transparent rebrand” of the former KGB and an “incompetent menace” to him and his family while they lived in Russia.

On the subject of Donald Trump, Harding covered many aspects of the life of the businessman, candidate and US president — from Russian officials’ success in flattering the property tycoon in the Eighties to suspicious dealings with oligarchs and the Hillary Clinton email scandal in 2016.

Throughout the talk, Mr Harding was quick to remind us all that, despite the apparent suspicions of the Russian security services, he is certainly no James Bond — and this was clear to the audience from his quick sense of humour and easygoing manner, even as he told us of the overtly sinister clues left in his apartment by “thugs in cheap leather jackets”.

The Tuesday evening talk in Phyllis Court Club seemed to bring many in the audience up to speed with the state of current affairs between Russia, the US and the UK — there was audible surprise when Harding mentioned that Vladimir Putin is estimated to be easily the richest man in the world. On a related note, the tone of the questions after the talk reflected concerns about our own country, with one man asking if there may have been Russian interference with the Brexit vote.

Luke Harding shows no signs of slowing down, with six published books and an obvious appetite for uncovering the truth behind the events dominating our newspapers in this exciting time of political instability.

Henry Peters

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