Staunton, May 9 – Vladimir Putin promised that by invading Ukraine, he would prevent NATO from expanding to the east; and for the moment at least, he has. But Russians now joke that he has utterly failed to block the growth of the Western alliance to the north-east, now that Finland and Sweden have applied to join.
Russian anecdotes and jokes often provide a better window into what Russians are really thinking than any sociological poll. At a minimum, they are a reminder that the Russian people are far more clever than either their rulers or many of their enemies seem to think. Among the other anecdotes Tatyana Pushkaryova offers this week (publizist.ru/blogs/107374/42895/-) are:
· Anyone who thinks Russia is fighting fascism should try going into the street with a sign declaring “down with fascism” and see how the police react.
· Pessimists are sometimes mistaken because it turns out that they had remained optimists after all.
· Russian sanctions are hitting the US automobile industry hard: American car makers can longer produce Russian cars.
· Due to Russian sanctions, the American auto industry is bursting at the seams! At the Ford plant, in the absence of components, the VAZ-2101 will again be produced with a manual gear lever.
· The departure of an increasing number of Russian governors might appear to be only rats leaving a sinking ship were it not for one detail: some of them are giving as their reason their age and the need for more youth in leading positions. Will Putin understand this and take the hint?
· No matter how loyal a Russian is, if the authorities don’t like him for some reason, he is an extremist and must be punished.
· The Kremlin has announced it is giving the 33,000 surviving World War II veterans 10,000 rubles (160 US dollars) each. But many of Putin’s friends earn more than that with his permission each year. They are the real veterans!
· Most Russian soldiers who’ve served in Ukraine return with a medal or two at most, but Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, who never served in the army for a single minute, has a whole chest-full of them. One can see who is “the real hero.”
· The greatest achievement of Putin’s war in Ukraine has been to de-carbonize the Russian economy. After all, the number of cars sold has fallen by two-thirds from a year ago to now and so the environment has been cleaned up.