Russia to Use World Cup Like Hitler Used Olympics, Says British FM

Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson ripped into Vladimir Putin Wednesday

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson giving evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee at Parliament in London on March 21, 2018
AFP PHOTO / PRU

Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to bolster Russia's image through hosting the World Cup in a similar way to how Adolf Hitler used the Olympics when it was held in Nazi Germany, Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

Russia is hosting the World Cup in June and July this year, and Johnson agreed with a lawmaker who said Putin would use the tournament to improve Russia's image, comparing it to when Hitler's Germany hosted 1936 Olympics.

"Your characterisation of what is going to happen in Moscow in the World Cup, in all the venues - yes, I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right," Johnson replied during a question and answer session with lawmakers.

U.K.- Russia spat

The U.K. and Russia are curently in the middle of a diplomatic row, which saw both countries expelling diplomats after the British alleged Russia poisoned a former-spy in the U.K. with a deadly nerve agent. The timing of an attack using military-grade nerve agent against a former Russian spy in England was probably connected to the weekend election won by President Vladimir Putin, British foreign minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

"The timing (of the attack in Salisbury) is probably more closely connected with the recent election in Russia," he told a committee of lawmakers.

"And as many non-democratic figures do when facing an election or facing some critical political moment, it is often attractive to conjure up in the public imagination the notion of an enemy."