•Michael Burleigh claims - in "Return of the Evil Empire and a Nation on the Brink of War" (Daily Mail 20.2.14, p17) - that "what has been happening in Kiev" and "the most expensive Games in history" have both "been master-minded by the sinister former KGB officer who is intent on re-establishing the 'glory' of the Soviet empire in all but name".
"The violence in Kiev [yesterday]", Burleigh continues, "reflected the brutal reality of Putin's attempt to build up his new empire by effectively forcing Ukraine to join it against the wishes of millions of its people".
Burleigh is referring to the exceptionally violent events of 19.2.14, when, as he also states, "police snipers apparently targeted the heads and chests of protesters from rooftops". Note the use of "apparently".
Meanwhile, footage broadcast on Russia Today TV clearly shows firearms, including a sniper's rifle, in the hands of the rioters, and that "a man" - who, Burleigh admits, "was shot through the eye", was a policeman captured by the rioters and, according to Russia Today, denied medical treatment by them.
Such discrepancies apart, Burleigh's contention that the "sinister" Mr Putin has "master-minded" riots, against a Russia-friendly government, in order to "build up his new empire", is patently nonsensical; and only Ukraine's next elections (Spring 2015) will reveal how many "millions of its people" are for, or against, a trade-deal with Russia, rather than one with the EU, for that is all Burleigh's "joining the evil empire" actually means.
No! If we are looking for masterminds and evil empires, we need look no further than the ranks of the rioters themselves, in the devastated heart of Kiev itself, where high officials of the foreign ministries of Germany, Poland, the EU and the USA, have all, personally and publicly, cheered on the mobs, in recent weeks, and then gone home to engineer sanctions against Ukraine's government.
Burleigh goes on: "Putin used offers of cash to make [Ukraine's president] Yanukovich, change his mind about signing up to the [EU's] plan", adding darkly, "along with bullying and blackmail"; but who, in reality, is bullying and blackmailing the Ukraine?
Burleigh's ill-defined "offers of cash" actually means "a more advantageous trade-deal than that proposed by the EU"; while "bullying" seems to refer to what Burleigh calls "draconian customs checks", at the Russian border, aimed presumably at discouraging armed riot-organisers; and, also according to Burleigh, the "blackmail" is Gazprom's asking Ukraine to pay for gas-supplies.
Burleigh then alleges that "the [EU-] deal would have given Ukraine access to Western Europe's vast market of more than 500 million people". More pertinently, it would have exposed, in Burleigh's own words, "Ukraine's relatively backward and predominantly agricultural economy" to an aggressive flood of cheap imports, of the kind which has flattened the economies of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Baltic States.
"Poland", claims Burleigh, "prospered", as a result of joining the EU; but this is not true either. Poland has been pumped full of EU-cash - just as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc were to begin with - but cash alone does not confer economic vigour, nor, in the EU, is it meant to. All it does is finance those cheap imports from Germany, France, the Low Countries and Britain.
This is where we encounter the motives of those, for whom the Daily Mail and Michael Burleigh are the mouthpiece, furious that yet another bonanza, subsidised at taxpayers' expense, seems to be slipping from their grasp. As for the Americans among them, we have only to consider Burleigh's "extending the evil empire" in the context of Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc - all with EU-assistance - to see what they are up to.