MP John Hayes writes for the Lincolnshire Free Press
Amongst my possessions is a sepia photograph of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas 11, with his young family. All were executed in 1918 on the orders of the Bolshevik brute Lenin.
Whenever I look at the picture of the five children with their mother and father I am reminded that communism, far from being a reasonable alternative to the free democracy that characterises the Western world, was defined by murder from its very inception.
We should never allow ourselves to forget the sheer horrors of communism; the millions of deaths in Russia and China, the gulags, and the complete suppression of all free thought, free choice and free will.
Recently I came face to face with the modern world’s last remaining bastion of Stalinism, North Korea. I was in its southern neighbour along with 45 British firms promoting our nation’s products. Boosting exports is central to an ambitious view of our country’s future.
The CBI recently welcomed the projected rise in export growth from 1% in 2013 to 3.6% for this year. Britain is selling more to countries across the world, including South Korea.
Nowhere else in the world is the contrast as stark as that between the communist, closed and cruel regime of North Korea, and the open, free and prosperous South. It is a salutary reminder of how Marxist totalitarianism cruelly damages the prospects of the people.
Russia is today, of course, a different society from its post-revolutionary incarnation though many of those that lead it, including President Putin, have a shady past. Putin served as an intelligence officer in the KGB for 16 years, which included time working with the despised Stasi in East Germany.
It is plainly wrong that Vladimir Putin’s apologists and fellow travellers– including, sadly, some in this country – are willing to turn a blind eye to, or worse still express admiration for, his oppression of liberty in Russia and its expansionist policies in neighbouring countries.
The Prime Minister was right to dismiss the “Kalashnikov referendum” in Crimea. Russia’s actions are a disturbing echo of the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany in 1938 which was justified on the basis of protecting ethnic Germans living there. It is only thanks to the calm response by the Ukrainians – in the face of extraordinary Russian provocation that more bloodshed has been avoided.
For our part David Cameron has been right to stop military co-operation with Moscow, subject Russian officials to a travel ban and asset freeze, and prepare further economic sanctions if Russian aggression continues.
Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Frankly, there is little mystery about the politics of fear and still less of an enigma about Russia’s current contempt for the national integrity of its neighbours.