Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Just Like in Brezhnev’s Times, Russian Leaders Spend Their Days Giving Each Other Awards —and Nine Other New Russian Anecdotes

 Paul Goble

             Staunton, Nov. 23 – In any society, the jokes people tell are often more instructive than any scholarly research or commentary. That is especially true in Putin’s Russia where the powers that be control research and commentaries far more closely than they do the stories that Russians tell each other.

             In her latest compilation, Moscow journalist Tatyana Pushkaryova offers 10 particularly instructive ones (

  •  ·       Anyone can see that Putin has returned Russia to Brezhnev’s times: He gives awards to leaders, and they give awards to each other.
  •  ·       A plan to give prizes for those who have been vaccinated fell apart when it was discovered that the winner who had received the Russian Sputnik vaccine was in the hospital with the coronavirus.
  •  ·       Officials have told the Duma that it is cheaper to purchase potatoes from Egypt and other countries than to grow them in Russia. It is also economically unprofitable to put out fires, cure poor people, or pay them pensions. Happily, the funeral business is “one of the most profitable” in Russia.
  •         Russians debate whether things will get better or worse after Putin, but what they really want to know is whether Moscow will be able to launch the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier into orbit?
  •  ·       The situation in Chechnya shows it isn’t easy to be a hero in Russia. Hero of Russia Ramzan Kadyrov at one time accused another hero of Russia Sulim Yamadayev of being involved in the killing of his father, hero of Russia Akhmat Kadyrov. Then, hero of Russia Yamadayev was killed in Dubay, and police there have accused another hero of Russia, Adam Delimkhanov, of being involved. Meanwhile, the brother of Yamadayev, also a hero of Russia, was killed in Russia “by other not yet established heroes of Russia.
  •  ·       The ruble exchange rate used to depend on the price of oil, but now it depends on Russia’ s new political export, political technologies. As a result, the ruble is no longer linked to oil, and nothing keeps it from falling anymore.
  •  ·       The Russian penal authorities said more time is needed to study proposals for banning torture. Curiously, they didn’t ask for more time to consider using torture in the first place.
  •  ·       A dozen years ago, Russian economists were convinced that the dollar would decline in value to a few kopecks. What is funny is that even though that hasn’t happened, they still consider themselves great economists and indisputable prophets.
  •  ·       After Kadyrov proposed not mentioning the nationality of criminals, deputies from the party of power, United Russia, called for not listing the party membership of criminals either – and for exactly the same reasons.
  •  ·       Russians are confused as to how to correctly write QR code in Russian, kuar-kod or kyuar-kod. They have been advised to write Ausweis, the German word for pass, to avoid any confusion.

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