As many know, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin turned 59 today, a day which for the last five years is also the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination. As one would imagine, Putin’s return to the throne has made this birthday has made the pious and humble Russian people more grateful than usual. As if his personality cult needed more inflation, the great leaders birth was even commemorated with the Twitter hashtag #СПАСИБОПУТИНУЗАЭТО, “Putin, thank you for that,” a revamp of the old Soviet joke, “Прошла зима, настало лето—Спасибо партии за это” (Winter has passed, summer has come –Thank the Party for that.)”
But my favorite happy birthday to Putin prank so far is the kimono-clad Putin sitting in Indian-style right where the famous statute of Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky stood on Lubyanka square. According to one Russian blog, the Putin puppet appeared at [5:07] in the evening. Who had to gumption to place the Putin remains unknown.
Experts claim that on the birthday of the colonel (or lieutenant colonel so he’s not to be mistaken as deep sea diver) will be inexorably dragged through the headwaters. Especially since he has turned into a hero in popular comics. Others think that he hasn’t ever drank, engages in sports and thinks a lot about the Motherland, meditates, and can levitate anywhere. Even on his birthday. After all, he recently did exactly that when he managed to change places with President Medvedev. What a great energetic person.
Here’s a video of the prank.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
Being the world’s (self-declared) only “democrat” is quite lonely. Just ask Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The Russian President feels that there are no more democrats to talk to. No one who will understand the travails as the world’s “absolute, pure democrat.” “But you know the problem?” Putin rhetorically asks. “It’s not even a problem, it’s a real tragedy. The thing is that I am the only one, there just aren’t any others in the world.” Awww . . . poor guy!
Yes shame on the evil German police for using rubber bullets and tear gas on all those poor G8 demonstrators.
And shame on those heartless North Americans with their homeless, wonton use of torture and
And let us not forget those ungrateful Ukrainians with their absolute disregard for “the constitution and all its laws” as they goosestep toward “complete tyranny.”
Yes if only the venerable Mahatma Gandhi were still alive because now “there’s nobody to talk to.” Why God? Why do you always take the good ones!?
Sniff . . . I think I’m going to cry . . .
Or cry laughing.
To demonstrate his fortitude as the world’s only democrat, Putin suggested that Russian presidential terms be extended to “five or seven years.” After all, democracy is long hard work.Post Views: 185
By Sean — 10 years ago
Winston Churchill was never without an insightful quip about Russia. In 1939, he made his famous Russia is “a mystery wrapped inside an enigma.” Just when you think he couldn’t top that, at some point he made this apt observation: “Watching clans in Russia is like watching dogs fighting under a carpet.” If Winston was right, and I think he was, where is Michael Vick when you need him?
For almost five months now, the Kremlin dogs have been clawing and biting each other under the carpet. The Western media has been slow to tune into the show except for a few notable exceptions. The first is the Eurasian Daily Monitor‘s Jonas Bernstein. His veterinarian skills are unmatched when it concerns the machinations of the Russia’s top dogs tumbling under the rug. His articles have been essential in discerning who are the pits and who are the poodles, and who is lockjawed around whose neck.
The Moscow Times and the eXile have also been on the cutting edge of the siloviki’s clan tiffs. The Times‘ retrospective on Putin’s Legacy is a must read. Nabi Abdullaev’s “How Putin Put the Kremlin on Top” chronicles the reinstitution of the “power vertical.” Francesca Mereu’s “Putin Made Good on Promise to FSB” charts the return of the FSB to their rightful place at the top of the Russian hierarchy. When put together, you get a glimpse at how Putin and his boyars made Russia the fighting pit for their under carpet wrangling.
The eXile also has its finger on the pulse or maybe it’s better to say a ringside seat at the pit. Mark Ames’ “Siloviki Clan War Heats Up” and “The Kremlin’s Clan Warfare: The Putin Era Ends” are good places to go for determining the betting line.
Thankfully, more and more Western news outlets are starting to tune into the fractious spectacle. Take Gregory Feifer’s report “Russian Clans Drive Kremlin Infighting” on NPR as a good recent example.
Things appear to have been quiet in the Clan War since the holidays. One strange episode was an alleged recording of a bathhouse conversation between Putin, Anatoli Chubais, and Aleksey Kudrin (I’ve provided a .pdf copy of the whole Forum.msk article and recording transcript here. The translation is from JRL#23). A transcript of the recording was first published on the liberal site Ezhednevyi zhurnal. It was quickly denounced as a Sechin clan forgery and EZh was accused of being their tool in a black PR campaign against Putin. I don’t know how you can think that the recording isn’t anything but a forgery. I love the “your gang . . .” followed by “Tolya, my colleagues. Didn’t I make myself clear.” Take the following as an example:
Chubais: Let me remind you that seven years ago we reached a general understanding. We would help you carry out liberal reforms. We advanced a counter-condition. Your gang…
Chubais: …Colleagues, of course, would keep the whole administrative system under control. Right?
Putin: Right, of course. And isn’t it true, everything was really well thought out?!
Chubais: Are you kidding?! Let’s total it up. The reforms went to the devil, the state machinery is in ruins, and your gang…
Putin: Tolya (nickname for Anatoliy), my colleagues. Didn’t I make myself clear?
Chubais: I’m sorry, Vladimir Vladimirovich, your colleagues. After all, it is clear to everyone that they are colleagues.
Putin: Don’t be conceited, just go on.
Chubais: Well then, so your colleagues stole so much that no one in this country…
Putin: In our country, Tolya, in our country! What kind of Anglicisms they are! Lousy liberals! Agents of influence!
Chubais: Of course, in our country… no one in our country has ever dreamed of such pillage, so vast and massive.
Putin: Aren’t you exaggerating?
Chubais: And how much, in your opinion, am I exaggerating?
Putin: Okay, not so much, go on.
Chubais: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the scale of their assets and their illegality is substantial. They need to be protected, they need to protect themselves. And there is the professional deformation: they know no restrictions on their means. Surely you know about this?
Putin: What are you hinting at?
Chubais: Sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say, surely you understand what I have in mind?
Putin: Let’s suppose so. Go on.
Chubais: Up to this point, we have helped you help us preserve the balance…
Putin: But you blurted it out. And I realized it!
Chubais: I was figuring on that. Now the balance is upset. You know about that better than others. And they have gotten out from under your control.
This may well be a feeble attempt to get at Putin. But I suspect the real struggle will take place after the March elections. Will Medvedev move against Sechin and send him to an early political retirement? What role will Putin play as Dmitiri’s consigliere? At any rate, there only a few more weeks left of calm before the possible storm.Post Views: 220
By Sean — 10 years ago
Things are looking bad for Russia’s floundering “opposition”. I say “opposition” because the Western media has declared the Russia’s liberal forces–Yabloko, SPS, and Other Russia–the true challengers to Putin and United Russia rather than the real opposition, the Communists. Be that as it may. Apparently, pumping up small and insignificant parties is far more agreeable to the Western political establishment than giving credence to Zyuganov.
It’s difficult to measure whatever strength, if any, the “opposition” has in Russia. If today’s rally is any indication, it’s not much. The Other Russia rally ranged between 1000 to 3000 participants depending on who you ask. About an hour into the rally, a band of 200 National Bolsheviks waving black flags with hammer and sickles broke away and began marching. This gave OMON the legal green light to move in and bust the whole thing up. Moscow authorities only sanctioned a rally. Scuffles ensued but eventually armor clad OMONtsy encircled the “dissenters.” And to the tune of billy clubs rapping against their shields, they snagged the most vocal of activists and hustled them into an awaiting van. Limonov, Kasparov, Maria Gaidar, Ilya Yashin and 100 others were arrested. The four faces of “opposition” were on their way to present a complaint to the Electoral Commission office. According to the Moscow Times, they barely made it to McDonald’s.
All were released shortly thereafter (Gaidar as a Duma rep for SPS has immunity) except for Kasparov who was charged with resisting arrest and organizing an illegal march. He is expected to sit in the slammer until Thursday. Given the paltry turn out, Other Russia should be happy that OMON was there to make their march relevant. Without arrests there wouldn’t have been anything noteworthy.
Things looked no brighter in St. Petersburg. There about 500 Other Russia supporters gathered in defiance of city authorities. OMON didn’t hesitate to round up all the rally’s organizers including newly named SPS presidential candidate Boris Nemtsov and local party head Nikita Belykh. Both were released. Again, its a good thing OMON showed up because then the Financial Times couldn’t call their action a “crackdown,” the Moscow Times couldn’t declare the march “quashed,” and RFE/RL would have to find another verb besides “crush” for their headline.
The Bush Administration issued a statement condemning Moscow’s “aggressive tactics.” That should provide Channel One, which called Other Russia a bunch of “aggressive extremists” and provocateurs looking to brainwash pensioners in its coverage of the march, with more xenophobic fodder. Its seems that the powers that be love the word “aggressive.”
The march culminates several weeks of police harassment of Other Russia and other oppositionists. On Friday, police raided their Moscow headquarters with a mandate to search for “weapons, drugs, and illegal literature.” The first two were nowhere to be found (probably to the cops’ disappointment), but the police were nonetheless able to walk away with some “illegal literature”: 300 stickers that read “Vote for the Other Russia List.” Wow, scary.
If Other Russia is in a bind, Yabloko is faring no better. Forget the fact that police blocked their offices the morning of the St. Petersburg march. And forget that Yabloko Ivan Bolshakov was detained a few days before. The real signal to the “dissenters” is the murder of Farid Babaev, Yabloko’s chief in Dagestan. Babaev was shot four times, including one “control shot” in the head, in his apartment vestibule on Wednesday. The assassins’ whereabouts, of course, are unknown and probably will remain so.
Will the suppression of the Russian “opposition” matter to voters? It will certainly harden the belief among the already converted that Putin is no democrat. But for most Russians Sunday’s events are par for the course. According to a poll conducted by RFE/RL the government’s pressure is exactly what they expect. Putin and his people will ensure their victory either through graft, influence, or plain old violence. The fix is already in and Putin is holding all the cards. Or as poli-sci prof Vladimir Gelman told RFE/RL,
“You can compare the situation to a football match in which the result is known in advance, the referee completely favors one team that is the preordained victor, and the spectators are not even interested in watching or in supporting one team or another.”
Putin the spread buster must really irk some bookies.Post Views: 184