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Sochi puppet
George Galloway, Issue 1619
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PARTY TIME: While George Galloway was celebrating in Rochdale, his comrades were busy making friends in Russia
"THIS is for Gaza," said triumphant man-of-the-people and legal letter enthusiast George Galloway as he won the recent Rochdale by-election.

But as Galloway celebrated his return to parliament, members of his Workers Party of Britain were showing their fondness for another part of the world: Russia.

In the early hours of Friday 1 March, Galloway's party posted a celebratory video on the Telegram channel of activist Jess Williams, who was leading a Workers Party delegation to the World Youth Festival in Sochi, but had found time to film a congratulatory video for George.

"I'm loving it here in Russia, meeting fantastic new people from all over the world, making fantastic contacts," said Williams, adding that he would be excited to come home and get back to work.

State aid
The World Youth Festival's website boasts that it is "held by the decree of Russian president Vladimir Putin". Its partner sponsors are largely Russian state-owned behemoths such as Sberbank, Gazprom and Russian Railways.

One event in the programme, "My Motherland. Volunteers of Donbas", paid tribute to international volunteers fighting in the Donbas, united by "love for Russia and the values it defends". Another session boasted of sending Russian books to the "people's republics" such as Donetsk and Kherson, otherwise known as occupied areas of Ukraine – though the word "Ukraine" is not mentioned in the programme.

'Thrilled'
Williams said the new friends he'd made at the youth forum were "thrilled about the news" of Galloway's victory, as "Rochdale has been put on the map". He went on: "From Sochi to Rochdale: no to Nato, no to war. Big change is coming."

Could a first step for those who say "no to war" include not going to a conference in celebration of the country that invaded Ukraine?

More top stories in the latest issue:

PHOENIX RISING
Jeremy Hunt's embrace of IT as the key to transforming the NHS will have pleased the Tory party's latest controversial mega-donor.

TREASURE HUNT
There was little in the budget for anybody apart from the relatively comfortable and landlords, who include 20 percent of Tory MPs, among them Jeremy Hunt.

COURT CIRCULAR
The Waleses' disastrous adventures in Photoshop didn't help already frayed relations between Kensington Palace and Buck House.

COUNTER CULTURE
As the Post Office inquiry prepares to look at how the Horizon IT issues were covered up for so long, the auditors must answer some serious questions.

CHEQUE IN THE POST
Financial links remain strong between former Fujitsu man Simon Blagden and the Tories, despite the latter's embarrassment over the Horizon scandal.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT
An interim chief executive of a charity who lost out to a candidate whose CV was inaccurate has finally been vindicated at an employment tribunal.

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