Daily Archives: December 4, 2011

I have often hesitated over whether to describe Russia as a democracy. Yes, the country has elections. But so much about the political system seemed to be rigged: from the harassment of the political opposition, to the slavishly favourable coverage given on television to Vladimir Putin and the United Russia party. There were also frequent rumours of ballot-box stuffing during elections. But, whatever the flaws of Russian democracy, it is robust enough to have delivered a genuine slap-in-the-face to Putin’s United Russia party, which looks as if it could well lose its majority in the Duma, after the elections today. Read more

The original Socrates died thousands of years ago after being forced to drink hemlock. The modern version died yesterday, aged 57, after an intestinal infection. Socrates was captain of the Brazilian football team, but looked charmingly like an Athenian philosopher. His fantastic performances in the 1982 World Cup also provoked one of the great lines in football commentary - “And Socrates scores a goal that sums up the philosophy of Brazilian football.” A shame that he won’t be around when the World Cup is played in Brazil in 2014.