Monday, September 2, 2019

Will a Putin Bust Attract the Kremlin Leader’s Attention? Baikal Islanders Hope So

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 1 – In a dictatorship, attracting the attention of the supreme leader is typically the only way to attract his attention; but doing so is not only difficult given all the tasks before him and the dangers that come with standing out from the crowd can bring to anyone brave enough to try. 

            But if the situation is dire enough, people will try almost anything; and that is what has driven the residents of the Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal to take the unusual step of erecting an enormous bust of Vladimir Putin on their land and outlining their problems on YouTube in language that would put many Russian opposition figures to shame.

The residents paid for the creation of an enormous Putin head, transported it by ferry to their island, filmed this for YouTube (, and issued the following carefully thought out declaration (

“It is impossible to live in the Baikal legal anomaly,” one of the activists behind the bust said, “when one law contradicts others, when the procuracy runs the courts, when mayors are afraid to take decisions, when people cannot live without violating one decree or violating another.”  

“We, the population of Baikal’s shores, are under the harsh pressure of these laws: we cannot freely apply our capabilities to work or get land to bury our relatives or even to choose what kind of work we will pursue.  Our constitutional right to economic activity is thus limited and being limited violated.”

“We have no chance to officially register our homes or to rend land or to do many other things. In fact, we are subject to discrimination because we live on the shoreline of Baikal.”  That is wrong, and they are appealing to the man whose bust they have put up in his capacity as guarantor of the constitution to correct the situation. 

Perhaps the most interesting question is what will happen to the bust if Putin ignores it – and whether more Putin busts will go up if he doesn’t.

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