Wednesday 18 October 2017

David McWilliams: Troika's dirty little secret is they've failed utterly

Have you ever heard the expression a "Potemkin Village"? It is a Russian expression and derives from a large and extremely successful scam played by Marshall Potemkin -- one of Catherine the Great's many lovers.

In the late 18th century, the Russian elite was keen to pretend to the world that it was more powerful and more muscular than it actually was. As result, the court in St Petersburg decided to take foreign dignitaries and ambassadors down the River Dnieper to witness just how thankful the peasants of the newly occupied Ukraine were to their new, benign Russian overlords.

Knowing that the Westerners -- the dignitaries were British, French and Prussian -- wouldn't expect a hoax, Potemkin constructed mobile villages, which he assembled at the turns of the river just before the royal barges carrying the foreigners came into view. What the foreigners would see on the riverbanks were excited, grateful peasants cheering on the royal Russian barges and showering Catherine the Great with compliments. When the barge went out of view, Potemkin would uproot the "village" and transport it, by night, further down the river to assemble it again ahead of the same royal barges when the barges continued down the river having docked overnight.

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