Potemkin Putin exposed before the Russian Nation
Meet Dr. Ivan Khrenov.
On November 9, 2010, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin visited the hospital in Ivanovo where Khrenov works in cardiology. Then days ago, Khrenov was selected as one of the questioners in Putin’s latest installment of his annual propaganda festival, where he pretends to respond to issues phoned in by ordinary citizens. But Khrenov threw Putin a curve ball, and departed from the pre-arranged script to ask Putin whether he was aware that his visit to the hospital had been rigged, a total sham, a Potemkin village designed to deceive.
On national TV, Khrenov said sick patients were sent home, replaced by clinic personnel surrounded by gleaming equipment borrowed from other hospitals, and nurses had to tell Putin that their monthly salaries had been raised to 12,000 rubles ($390), when in fact they get about 5,000 rubles ($165). When the studio audience broke into applause, Putin turned to them and asked: “What are you cheering at? The artifice of the managers or the doctor’s bravery?”
The local administration responded by claiming, in bizarre fashion, that Khrenov was “insane” and not directly employed by the hospital, even though he had just been vetted by the Kremlin to ask Putin a question on national television. The fact that he does not work for the hospital, however, has not prevented his bosses there from openly threatening him with termination, making him terrified for his future.
Then things became even more bizarre. The next day, Putin called Khrenov on the telephone, but Khrenov only found out who he’d been speaking to by listening to the radio: “On the radio everyone says it was him [Putin], but how could I understand it – he didn’t introduce himself,” said Khrenov.
Odder still, some reports have Khrenov claiming to have written a letter to the Kremlin shortly after the hospital visit complaining about the fraud, asserting that Khrenov was invited by the Kremlin to ask Putin about it. Yet, when Putin heard Khrenov’s question he responded that it was “strange” and seemed surprised by the audience reaction. Could Putin have been set up? He openly and repeatedly contradicted so-called “president” Dima Medvedev — maybe it was an act of revenge?
In fact, Putin’s call-in show was full of jaw-droppingly bizarre incidents. When asked in good faith by on questioner who ran the country whilst Putin and Medvedev are sleeping, Putin responded that the pair take turns sleeping and one is always in charge. He accused opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov of “stealing billions” while they were in office, leading Nemtsov to declare his intention to file a lawsuit for defamation, and in the same breath accused Mikhail Khodorkovsky of being the “Russian Madoff.”
Khrenov’s case exposes fundamental flaws in the basic existential nature of the Russian government. Just as in Soviet times, it is based on total fraud and deception, to such an extent that its own rulers are often taken in. But unlike in Soviet times, the government simply does not have the resources to impose full-blown totalitarian control. This means that inevitably its pathetic failures bubble routinely to the surface, and all the world can gape at the true extent to which Russia’s incompetent rulers are driving their nation to the brink of extinction.