The papers: Call to sue Putin, and the rubble of Gaza

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Nick Clegg has argued that that Russia should no longer be "on the top table" of world affairs

Ten days on from the apparent shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, there is still much discussion on how the West should punish Russia for their support for separatist militia believed to have been behind the crash.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that relatives of the victims of the crash are preparing to take a class action against Vladimir Putin over his alleged role in the affair.

Claims have been made that Mr Putin's government supplied the Buk-M1 missile system believed to have downed the plane, and trained rebels in the eastern Ukraine to use such weapons.

The Telegraph says "the case would further damage relations between Mr Putin, and the West, but politicians would be powerless to prevent it."

The paper adds that the legal case is being prepared by the British law firm that pursued claims against Colonel Gaddafi over his sponsorship of IRA terrorism. Any hearing will take place in American courts.

The Sunday Times leads with Nick Clegg's call to strip Russia of the 2018 football World Cup.

The deputy prime minister tells the paper it is essential that the EU "gets tough on Vladimir Putin" as his behaviour was "beyond the pale".

Mr Clegg says the Russians should also be banned from hosting their first Formula 1 race in October, a move the sport's administrators are resisting.

"The World Cup is a huge, huge boost to Russia. It is an enormous advantage to Putin personally," Mr Clegg argues.

"When you look at the way he milked the Winter Olympics for all it was worth, there's no question he sees it for himself and for his prestige as a huge gain.

"The idea that the world should accord Russia prestige is beyond belief."

The paper has commissioned a YouGov poll which suggests that half the public would support Russia being stripped of the Cup hosting and Grand Prix.

The Daily Star Sunday reports that British football clubs fear sanctions aimed at Russia could hit their sponsorship deals.

The paper says Manchester United has a £20m deal with Russian airline Aeroflot, Chelsea have a commercial tie-in with Gazprom, Russia's state gas company, and Arsenal could be hit if sanctions target Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30% of the club.

The Sunday Mirror's opinion column accuses David Cameron of "cosying up" to Russian oligarchs in return for donations and fund-raising for the Conservative Party.

The paper says "the prime minister was first to leap in after flight Mh17 was downed, demanding sanctions against Russia and attacking countries which didn't immediately take a tough line with Vladimir Putin.

"Mr Cameron's tone has become more muted since then. In fact, his roar is now little more than a whisper."

The Independent on Sunday reports that the Russians have threatened that if sanctions are extended, international co-operation over weapons of mass destruction, organised crime and terrorism will be hit.


As a truce is extended on the Gaza Strip, Sunday's papers pick over the high cost in human suffering and property damage suffered by its inhabitants.

Image copyright AFP

The Observer's Peter Beaumont reports from Beit Hanoun in the territory.

He writes "the skyline, until recently regular and neat, has been transformed into something torn and ragged.

"What happened here... will inevitably demand an explanation: whether the extremity of violence unleashed in these residential areas in recent days was proportionate, or if the destruction amounts to a war crime."

One resident tells Beaumont "it's like an earthquake hit this street - an earthquake."

The Sunday Express reports on a "miracle baby" born to a mother who had been killed in an Israeli air raid 10 minutes before.

"I think she will now survive... because she is a Palestinian," the doctor who delivered her tells the paper.

The Independent on Sunday reports that Israel may not be willing to halt military action.

"A desire to give the army more time to deal blows to Hamas and a sense that Israel has not until now achieved a victory in the battle... could pave the way for an escalation of Israeli military activity," the paper says.

Behind the scenes US-brokered peace talks were continuing, but "the situation is fluid" an Israeli official told the paper.

Elsewhere, the paper reports worldwide protests against the conflict, saying that more than a million people took to the streets in dozens of cities around the globe.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, John Prescott says "Israel's attacks will not solve this dispute. They will just create another generation of hate-filled Palestinians determined to fight against the injustice of being occupied."

And Peter Hitchens, in the Mail on Sunday agrees.

"The fate of Israel will be decided in countries like ours, and on TV screens, not by bullets and high explosive. Each episode of this kind makes that future more doubtful."

The Sunday Times reports a side effect of the passions aroused by the conflict, a rise in anti-Semitism in Britain and abroad.

The paper says more than 100 "hate incidents" have been recorded this month in the UK, with Jewish people and synagogues being attacked in some cases, and violent and Nazi-glorifying social media messages being posted in others.

Writing in the paper, Stephen Pollard lists anti-Semitic attacks across Europe. He says "bigots" are "using Gaza as their excuse".

Anti-Semitic violence has been at its highest in France, Pollard notes.

"In France, the government appears to be learning a lesson about the separation of too much of its Muslim population from democratic western norms.

"The big question for us in Britain, despite our recent history of relative freedom from anti-Semitism, is whether France in some ways predicts our own future."

CU Jimmy

The other big story of Sunday's papers is the Commonwealth Games.

Many papers take an unflattering view of the Games' opening ceremony on Wednesday.

Gary Bushell writing in the Daily Star Sunday says the ceremony was "like something [Russ Abbot character] CU Jimmy might have devised in the middle of a nervous breakdown".

Susie Boniface in the Sunday People says the festivities were "a real loch mess".

"I ended up feeling sorry for Scotland that a great nation had employed such a bunch of halfwits that it was being represented to the world with all the glory due to a small county in the East Midlands," she adds.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Irn-Bru - and a celebrity endorser

Kevin McKenna in the Observer takes a far more benign view of the spectacle, saying Glasgow had displayed its "humour, self-confidence and genuine affection for those south of the border".

"The dance of the Tunnock's tea cakes, and the Callanish standing stones made of shortbread, and a Forth Bridge held up by cans of Irn-Bru expressed the Glaswegian's remorseless quest to imbue everything with a low chuckle," he continues.

Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times notes that the Red Arrows flying over the event, proudly streamed red, white and blue smoke, rather than the blue and white of the flag of St Andrew.

"As the Red Arrows have demonstrated, it is possible to display smoke trails of red, white and blue without insulting the Scottish Catholic population - and this was at Celtic Park.

"Perhaps this event, which nervous unionists feared would be a deadly blow to their side of the referendum debate, has instead strengthened the spirit of togetherness."

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