Sunday, March 20, 2022

It is Getting Harder to Joke, Russians Say, Because So Many Words Alone will Land You in Jail

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 15 – Vladimir Putin’s insistence that what is going on in Ukraine is not a war presents real challenges for Russians who want to talk about it, the latest Russian anecdote offered by Tatyana Pushkaryova suggests, because they find it difficult to joke about things that can’t be named lest people end up behind bars.

            Nonetheless, this week’s collection of the latest anecdotes suggests that Russians are coming up with ways to end run officialdom even at this time of “the special military operation” in Ukraine ( Among the very best of these are the following:

·       Moscow officials have announced that import substitution is being stopped because manufacturers can’t acquire the foreign components they need.

·       Moscow says it hasn’t asked Beijing for military aid, but the Americans say that it has. Because Moscow lied about its military plans for Ukraine and the Americans called them on it, Russians now believe Washington and not Moscow about aid from China.

·       Children of the elite sit abroad and use Instagram, which has been banned in Russia, to declare that “Russia is the best country and ever more patriotic.”

·       A 1996 remark by Putin is now circulating as an anecdote: At that time, Putin says that it always seems everything will be better if things are put in order by an iron hand but such feelings pass quickly because “this tough hand will soon begin to choke us.”

·       Officials in St. Petersburg are making plans for the 25th International Economic Forum and spending millions of rubles to get ready. Do they really think that the special operation in Ukraine will be over by June? Or is this just an example of the way officials act in order to pocket public money?

·       Russia may be at war but palaces for the elite continue to go up. War is war, but the construction of palaces must continue on schedule.

·       What is the difference between journalism in Russia and journalism in the West?  If a journalist in the West protests what the government is doing, clips of that go viral. If one does the same thing in Russia, the government removes the video from social networks, arrests the miscreant, and launches a criminal case to them him or her to jail for as much as 15 years.

·       Those who say Russia must show how strong it is and those who go around sweeping up any spilled buckwheat and sugar from the shelves of stores are of course one and the same people.

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