If Putin was put on trial…

Vladimir Putin
ARGUMENT: Vladimir Putin

by Amit Roy


IMAGINE this scenario: hours af­ter his presidential triumph, Vladimir Putin has been snatched by the SAS and put on trial at Salisbury crown court for the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia.

Clerk: Will the prisoner stand up? Name, address and date of birth?

Putin: Vladimir Vladimirovich Pu­tin. The Kremlin. October 7, 1952.

Clerk: How do you plead?

Putin: Not guilty. Why would I want to target Yulia in this country when she lives in Moscow?

Prosecution counsel: Because you wanted to get to the father through the daughter.

Putin: That’s preposterous. Why now? It doesn’t make sense. He was arrested in December 2004, sen­tenced to 13 years in prison and has been living in the UK since 2010. Why would I want to kill him on the eve of a presidential election?

Prosecution: Precisely because it was on the eve of a presidential election. To send out a message that the Kremlin has a long reach and there is no escape for a man whom you consider a traitor.

Putin: This has had very little im­pact on my election. Have you con­sidered the alternative explanation?

Prosecution: Which is?

Putin: A man in my position has enemies. It was done to embarrass me. Luckily, the people of Russia have seen through this blindingly obvious conspiracy against me. How often have I said that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however im­probable, must be the truth?

Prosecution: I didn’t realise you were such a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Mr Putin.

Putin: Perhaps your Scotland Yard should consult him.

Prosecution: You may find this amusing, but may I remind you that we are dealing here with attempted murder? The nerve agent Novichok could only have come from you.

Putin: So your Prime Minister claims. I have offered my co-operation but it was rejected. The international community will draw its own con­clusions. Your country has learnt nothing from the Weapons of Mass Destruction fiasco! This time the analysis is just as dodgy.

Prosecution: The British govern­ment is asking the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weap­ons to verify its findings.

Putin: But we got rid of our chemi­cal weapons stockpile years ago – and that was independently verified.

Prosecution: Obviously you held some back – I’m afraid your finger­prints are all over this atrocity.

Putin: But you said the same thing about Saddam in 2003.

Judge: This seems an opportune moment to adjourn for the night. I have a train to catch before the snow closes the line.

Putin: This is nothing, Your Hon­our. You should see Russian snow.