Tuesday, October 16, 2018

‘Putin Wants to Destroy the US so He’s Been Practicing on Russia’ -- and 10 Other Putin Anecdotes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 15 – Russians have always told jokes about their leaders and sometimes even survived after doing so.  Dmitry Verrner, the founder of Anekdot.ru, has collected more than 4000 of them, and Snob’s Igor Zalyubovich provides a selection that tells the story of the Putin years (snob.ru/entry/166941).

            In addition to the above, here are 10 more of the best of them:

1.      Mosfilm announces the release of a remake of “The Spy’s Achievement.” Vladimir Putin stars and over the four years of his first presidential term doesn’t reveal his plans.

2.      Putin is asked if he will run for a third term. No, he says. Then he is asked, “But for a fourth?”

3.      Putin says that in 2008, the country will be run by “another man.” His aide explains that “in the unanimous opinion of the West, over the course of his eight years in office, Putin has become “an entirely different man.”

4.      Putin tells the Duma that Russia doesn’t need experiments based on untried liberalism. Instead, it will follow the tried and true course of dictatorship.

5.      A fortuneteller tells Putin he will rule for only one more summer. Putin responds that then there won’t be any more of those.”

6.      Russians say that the man who parodies Putin at the Comedy Club is already old. “But Vladimir Vladimirovich isn’t.”

7.      “Do you have a ticket for Putin’s inauguration?” a Muscovite is asked. “No, I’m here on a season pass.”

8.      Putin hears that there are food shortages. He goes in disguise to several stores only to find that there is a surplus of everything.  He asks whether he has to use ration cards. No, says one shop owner. Take what you want.  They say Putin is going though the shops, and tomorrow there won’t be anything at all.

9.      Putin announces that it is too early for him to go on a pension, and consequently, he isn’t going to give anyone else a pension either.

10.  Putin will run for president in 2024 under the slogan “I ask you to treat this with understanding.”

The Snob portal asked Dmitry Bykov for his observations on Russian anecdotes. The Russian commentator’s remarks are as worthy of attention as are the anecdotes themselves (snob.ru/entry/166942):

·         Brezhnev-era humor could compete with reality in terms of absurdity and sometimes even exceed it; but now that is completely impossible.

·         Soviet dissident writer Andrey Sinyavsky was right: Russia has given the world two things in the 20th century: prison songs and anecdotes.

·         Anecdotes are the response of slaves: Russians employ them because they distrust from the outside any idea and want somehow to stand up against any totalitarianism.

·         “Formally, fascism in Russia is impossible because for full-blown fascism one needs fanatics, and in Russia any government innovation gives rise first to anecdotes and then to dozens of pieces of advice on how to get around what the government wants.”

·         Everything and everyone in the Russian government today is funny, and that keeps us from becoming fanatics. “But when an anecdotal figure [like Dmitry Rogozin] becomes head of Roskosmos, the cosmos is transformed into chaos.”

·         “In Russia there is an anecdote for all occasions just as for believers there is a citation from the Bible.” Such stories reflect and increase the lack of motivation among Russians, “one of the most unmotivated peoples in the world; and to motivate it to do anything, nothing except laughter works.”

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