Has Pooty Lost the Thread?
by Dave Essel
June is a bit early for the silly season, at least for Brits, where schools and Parliament take their summer break a bit later. Schools break up earlier in Russia and whether the Duma takes a summer break or not makes not a jot of difference.
So it’s always time for the silly season in Russia and our Pooty got it off to a good start by a run of acts of wanton silliness that were jumped on by commentators, to the extent that the Eurasia Daily Monitor remarked in passing in an article about Gazprom “some commentators started to worry about Putin’s connection with reality.”
This seemed worth a second glance and I took a wander around this and related articles. It would appear that Pooty has indeed being buzzing busily around all sorts of pies and making one commentator after another reel at his revelatory inanities.
On 12 June, Stanislav Belkovsky wrote in Yezhedevny Zhunral about Pooty’s attitude to religion and the growing presence of the Russian Orthodox Church. This author mentions being told 4 years previously that “it seems they want to make Russia into an Russian Orthodox Iran”. An interesting thought, although the same person went on to counter this idea, saying that what “they” are actually doing is establishing a cult of money, a cash-ocracy in which, for the élite, the church is just another state corporation – Rosspasdush, the Russian Soul-Saving Corporation.
Pooty has been giving away his true views on the Church and religion rather rashly in recent days. On 3rd June in Helsinki, he was questioned by reporters about the diplomatic incident when the Finnish consul in St. Pete rescued a kidnapped Russo-Finnish tug-of-love child by carrying him in secret across the the frontier into Finland in the boot of his diplomatically immune car. Pooty said: “If a civil servant is so concerned with humanitarian matters, then he has no place in government. He ought to go into the church.” In other words, if you can’t hack serious matters of state, go join other wet-noses like yourself in the place that befits you.
Next in June came the story of King Pooty, the Oligarch, and the People of Pikalyova. This was widely reported, of course, but there were striking things about this incident. Firstly, on this occasion the demonstrators were not beaten up, arrested, then beaten up again as in the Far East during the second-hand car import tax demos but instead received a visit from the heavenly heights of the Kremlin. This was because of the major difference between the two occasions: in the Far East entrepreneurs were demanding that the state leave them alone to get along with running their businesses (their minds weren’t right) while the Pikalyova demonstrators were asking the authorities to beneficently grant them aid in the matter of an enterprise that deserved to fail (their minds were definitely right). Secondly, this affair afforded Pooty a superb stage for the ritual humiliation of Oligarch Deripaska, taking for himself the lead role of Good Tsar:
“You’ve made fine mess of things here!” thundered the premier, walking rapidly through the empty workshops. [...] The premier personally commanded that the workers’ salaries be paid before the day’s end and viewers of Channel One, Rossiya, and NTV were able to see with their own eyes how Oleg Deripaska, the master of Rusal, owner of BasEl Cement, former occupier of the top slot in Forbes’ list, sat slumped in front of the cameras, covering his face with his hand, bent over with his chin to his chest to sign the contract to renew deliveries to the plant. Having come pen-less, for which he was rebuked by Putin, who passed him his, he was next sharply instructed by the premier to return it as he inadvertently made to slip it into his pocket (Novaya Gazeta, 8 June).
Next, as Alexandr Podrabinek and Stanislav Belkovsky cover in separate EJ stories on 12 and 16 June, Pooty managed to combine his religious and kingly attitudes in a grand scene with court painter Ilya Glazunov, when he instructed the artist – giving on-the-spot guidance à la Kim Il Sung – that in his painting of first Russian saints and holy martyrs Boris and Gleb, he had painted the swords too long and that they were anyway not much of an example, saying: “Boris and Gleb are, of course saints, but one should fight for oneself and one’s country. They gave themselves up without a struggle. That cannot serve as an example to us – lying down and waiting to be killed”. Clearly Pooty thinks that their murderer, Sviatopolk the Accursed, is a better role model (and acts in accordance with his convictions as the fates of many Russian journalists and political exiles, inter alia, demonstrate. The name suits him better too!).
Finally, Alexandr Golts in an Yezhedevny Zhurnal article entitled “We Are Losing Him…” recounts how Pooty, at a time of national crisis, devoted a recent cabinet meeting to an important announcement: “I would like to inform you that I have just signed a decree of the Government of the Russian Federation on the establishment of the Russian Arctic National Park….” After listing its many attractions – seals, polar bears, and loads of interesting wildlife, he went on to advise his ministers to take their holidays there.
Golts wonders if this is “V.V.P. humour” – a reminder to his ministers that they may be busy around and about the Rublevka today but tomorrow could be enabled to watch the seals and polar bears from behind barbed wire (and not the more usual helicopter). He concludes with the thought that Putin has finally succumbed to the monstrous deluge of flattery heaped upon him and that it has finally gone to his head. He has now come to believe that his views on religion, art, and the natural environment are the final truth that no one may contradict. A serious situation indeed.