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By John Helmer, Moscow

In the Broadway musical, My Fair Lady, elocution professor Henry Higgins fools an East European expert on spotting impostors. But believing he’s been fooled himself by his protégée, Eliza Doolittle, Higgins sings this lament to himself: “Men are so honest, so thoroughly square; Eternally noble, historically fair; Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat. Why can’t a woman be like that?”

In the case of Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, right), the onetime British citizen who is currently Foreign Minister of Poland, the outcome of his campaign to be elected High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has failed. This week in Warsaw, Sikorski’s reason is the Higgins song – he is too much of a honest man in a race where there are too many devious women.

The official outcome of the contest won’t be announced in Brussels for another few days. In London, the Financial Times, which publicly sponsored Sikorski’s campaign on May 23, reports today that the Italian candidate for the post, Federica Mogherini, qualifies for the post because she’s a woman. But if she is blocked for being too soft, as Poland has been lobbying with Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, “the two candidates seen as hardliners on Russia – Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski and Sweden’s Carl Bildt – are likely to be ruled out as well, diplomats said. That would leave Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, the EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner and a World Bank veteran, as a possible consensus figure.”

georgievaThe Financial Times got Georgieva’s gender right. But as the EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response, the newspaper has reported Georgieva’s name and her record are even more unheard of in Bulgaria as Baroness Ashton has been in the UK. As for being as tough on Russia as Sikorski and his supporters want the new EU foreign minister to be, Georgieva has so far said as little as possible to disqualify her from the running. On the Ukrainian refugee problem, for example, Georgieva announced in mid-June that “all parties must protect civilians” and that her policy “is based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.” That was Georgieva’s maiden outing on the Ukraine conflict. She has said much more on forest fires and flooding in Europe.

In an interview published today in Newsweek Polska, Sikorski bows out with the explanation that he has been unfairly victimized, dishonestly pilloried for swear words taken out of context, his conversation the target of “extreme manipulation”. For what Sikorski said, read this.

“I’m honest”, Sikorski now declares, “I am not into plotting and don’t steal”. Sikorski was referring to the taperecordings of recent table talk where, instead of tucking into his rabbit entrée, he was biting the British and American hands that have been feeding him. When you are saying things which are criminal, Sikorski now says, it’s not criminal to tape them. But when you are the Higgins-type of honest, square, noble, and fair, it’s criminal to record. Besides, when the record is published, Sikorski adds, “almost every conversation transferred to the paper looks worse [than it is]. I am a double victim.”

That leaves his wife, the American Anne Applebaum (lead image, left). For her role in the strategy of winning the Brussels election on a platform of maximum hostility towards Russia, click. Over the past 12 months she and her husband have now lost both Brussels jobs their Russian programme had been designed to win – Ashton’s as foreign minister, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s job as Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). No European elections are left, and the next US one Applebaum may consider running for is Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the US presidency in 2016. For that one her husband may be less of a partner than she has been for his European races.

kuznetsovApplebaum has not been appearing as often as she used to do in the opinion pages of the Washington Post, but her latest publication in Slate, a blog associated with the Post, reveals a perspicacity noone else in Washington has demonstrated. Applebaum found a Russian named Andrei Kuznetsov (right) who has asked for political asylum in Kiev. It turns out that Kuznetsov is one of six Russian asylum seekers in Ukraine, who were first identified by Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, the US state broadcaster, on June 30. The Kuznetsov case, according to Applebaum, materialized after a “quite senior, quite well-known Russian journalist came to see me. He was looking for a job—any job. Or rather, any job outside Russia.” Her visitor is part of a bigger wave of departing Russians, Applebaum has discovered, “who fear these travel bans—as well as capital controls, a new ban on swear words, and restrictions on blogging.”

When it comes to a ban on swear words and blogs reporting them, Sikorski and Applebaum have a policy problem they are bound to resolve before the Clinton election campaign reaches the primary stage in eighteen months’ time.

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