As Scotland geared up to vote on breaking away from the U.K. on Thursday, The Moscow Times came into possession of a secret low-level memo produced by the Russian government discussing how to deal with possible Scottish independence.
How to Persuade Scotland to Become Part of Russia
1) Raise the Russian navy ensign — the blue-on-white St. Andrew's Cross — over the Kremlin and all government buildings once the Yes vote for independence comes in early Friday morning. As the Scottish flag is a white-on-blue St. Andrew's Cross, it will be the perfect welcoming signal to the new nation.
2) Remind the Scots how many of them have come to Russia and made their mark here. Stress the 17th-century ones who fled persecution, and those who served in the navy or army, like Jacob Bruce, as they refer to Yakov Vilimovich Bryus, who even took part in the Crimea campaign (!) under Peter the Great. Mikhail Lermontov and Napoleon-basher Mikhail Barclay de Tolly have a Scottish connection too, though ultimately they are of course our lads.
DO NOT mention Mary Hamilton, lady-in-waiting to Catherine I, who was executed on the order of Peter the Great for theft, infanticide and other, possibly inherent, Scottish crimes. The tsar, so they say, picked up her head after she was decapitated, gave an anatomy lesson, kissed it and threw it away.
3) Raid the bits left of the Pension Fund once Rosneft and Novatek have taken what they want and buy up all of the single malt whisky in Scotland. Make Glenfiddich and Glenlivet the set drink in the better government canteens. Can we afford to buy the castles too? We have a couple already. They are really cool.
4) Show them how serious we are about Scotland joining Russia and how they will have far more independence than under the British yoke by letting them choose their new name: Scotorossia and Keltorossia are the most popular among our social media audience. Personally, I rather like Gibernia.* Remember, do not let them think they can come in as a republic! The most we can offer is oblast for now. Or what that Nenets autonomous thingy has at best.
*Note scrawled in red pencil on this part of the memo reads: "This is Ireland, fool."
5) The Scottish economy survives on oil. Show them how by copying the Russian model, the Scots can create a thriving, 21st-century democracy.
Teach the Scots how easy it is to avoid environmental regulation when conducting oil and gas exploration. Point to the Arctic drilling now going on and the planned military base on the UNESCO-protected Wrangel Island as examples of how by joining Russia, Scotland can look for oil and gas without worrying about the puffins, or whatever wildlife they have up there, or the locals in the far northern regions.
6) Sack, silence the diplomat who made that joke about Scotland in the leaked tape earlier this year. You remember: Igor Chubarov, the ambassador to Eritrea, was caught saying "We've got Crimea, but that's not f**king all folks. In the future we'll damn well take your Catalonia and Venice, and Scotland and Alaska too" — which admittedly is a decent summary of our long-term policy — but he punned the word "Scotland" with our word "skot," so it came out as "Cattleland." Funny, but politically unwise, and technically wrong as it is more Sheepland.
7) Tell them how much it will annoy British Prime Minister David Cameron. This may be the clincher.
8) Additional benefit for us: The Man has already said that five of our universities must be ranked in the top 100 by 2020, so unless any of you fancy going to teach in Novopipets, we add St. Andrew's, Edinburgh and Glasgow to make up the five.
9) Possible problems. They do actually seem to want to be independent. Their health care system is free and actually works. So is ours of course, technically, but we may have to overcome some cognitive dissonance or get creative with reality.
10) The kilt problem. Do we go all Pussy Riot on the skirt-wearing haggis-munchers, or simply ban tartan as gay propaganda?
11) We may have to teach them to speak. Their accents are worse than Azeris.
This article is a satirical editorial and does not really comprise the content of a government memo. At least, not one seen by The Moscow Times.