Category Archives: Russian political humor

Paging Dr. Freud

While visiting the gallery of Russian artist Ilya Glazunov on his 79th birthday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at a painting of the legendary Russian hero, Prince Oleg, and remarks:

“His sword is a bit too short.”

In response, Mr. Glazunov promised to make it longer, and the National Leader gave himself a pat on the back for having a good eye for detail.

In Novaya Gazeta (alas, Russian only), the brilliant Dmitry Bykov comments, in hilarious verse,  on the encounter between the artist and the prime minister (who also chided the Russian Orthodox Holy Martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb, depicted in another Glazunov painting, for submitting to martyrdom rather than defending the Motherland), and imagines other conversations with artists in which Putin might want to do something about the naked Bacchus.

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“So, five million Jews and 100 million Arabs walk into a bar…”

Received by email, the latest wit and wisdom from Russian jokesters.

A Russian general is giving a lecture at a military academy.  During the question and answer period, a cadet asks, “Sir, do you think we’re ever going to have a war with China?”

“Unfortunately,” the general replies, “that is quite possible.”

“But that means we’re done for!” exclaims the cadet. “How could we possibly win?  There’s nearly a billion and a half of them, and less than 150 million of us!”

“Now now, young man,” replies the general, “don’t be so defeatist.  Numbers aren’t everything.  Look at Israel — they’ve only got five million people, and they’ve been holding their own against 100 million Arabs for sixty years!”

“Yes Sir, you’re absolutely right!” says the cadet. “Thank you!  But I do have one more question.  Do we have enough Jews?”


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Filed under Israel, Middle East, Russia, Russian political humor

Russia: Freedom springs eternal

Via Robert Amsterdam, an article from The Economist about acts of civic courage by ordinary Russians: a juror in the Anna Politkovskaya murder case going public to dispute the judge’s claim that the jury has asked for the trial to be held behind closed door (causing the trial to be opened to the public and the media again), drivers in Moscow taking over a special lane reserved for high-level government officials. And there’s more.

On December 5, the Basmanny district court in Moscow — a court whose past actions have made it a synonym, among Russian dissenters, for a kangaroo court doing the government’s bidding — acquitted writer and political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky of charges of “extremism.” The charges against Piontkovsky, a pro-Western, outspoken critic of the Putin regime, were based on the prosecutors’ conclusion that his book Unloved Country contains incitement of ethnic hatred and “statements demeaning to Russians, Jews, and Americans.” (No specific examples were given.)

Three experts from the Russian Federal Center for Expert Witnesses concluded that nothing in Piontkovsky’s book could be interpreted as incitement to hatred or violence.

Said Piontkovsky (alas, Russian link only):

The FSB and the prosecutors, armed with the new law on extremism, tried to conduct a show trial and create a precedent for criminal prosecution for criticism of the government.

The highly professional conclusion of Andrei Smirnov, Olga Kukushkina and Yulia Safonova, buttressed by scholarly arguments, has knocked — for a long time, I hope — this “punishing sword” out of the hands of the repressive machine.

The official conclusion of these three remarkable and courageous professionals should be disseminated by the media as much as possible. It is our small Magna Carta, a charter of freedoms — a first step toward the restoration of freedom of speech traitorously stolen from society by the KGB lieutenant colonel who fancies himself “the father of the nation.”

And there’s more. On December 6, the half-hour comedy show ProjectParisHilton on Russia’s Channel One, in which four comedians discuss current events, included a segment on Putin’s December 4 televised “question and answer session” with the people that was virtually an overt parody of the Vladimir Show, with the comedians offering to field audience questions that “Putin didn’t get a chance to answer” and giving Putin-style vacuous answers. (Video to come, once I have a chance to add subtitles.)

In the meantime, another video. As Russia officially celebrated the 15th anniversary of its post-Soviet Constitution — ironically, just as this constitution is about to be hastily amended to extend the presidential term from four years to six — Medvedev’s speech at the anniversary conference at the Kremlin was interrupted by a heckler. No less remarkably, a report on the incident was broadcast on television, though only on a local St. Petersburg channel.

Before we get all optimistic, the next day Dobrokhotov — an activist with the opposition group “We”– lost his job as the host of a weekly one-hour debate program on the “Moscow Speaks” radio station. The station chief claims that this was a planned layoff affecting all free-lance workers at the station. Interestingly, Dobrokhotov seems to give this explanation some credence, saying that the chief has always been candid with him in the past and that his participation in public protests has not previously affected his job. Still, the timing in suspicious at best.

On Sunday, “marches of dissent” are planned in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Stay tuned.

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Filed under freedom of speech, Russia, Russian political humor

Putvedev as Pinky and the Brain

Everything you always wanted to know about the Putin/Medvedev “tandem,” but were afraid to ask.

This video clip uses the Russian lyrics for the “Pinky and the Brain” theme song (yes, Pinky and the Brain has aired on Russian television). I decided to add subtitles with a back-translation of the Russian lyrics, since they differ substantially from the original and present the duo in a rather more malevolent light than the far more benign English version.

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Filed under Medvedev, Putin, Russian political humor