Everyone has their limits and I think I may have reached mine as far as writing about Putin goes. It’s all I seem to have been doing for the last few weeks, in between snatched meals, never-long-enough sleeps and the occasional visit to the toilet.
I was trying hard to think of something else to write this column about, to give my body and soul a break from the Putin phenomena. However, after spending over twelve hours monitoring Sunday’s elections and, yes, writing about Putin, my intellect refuses to center on anything else but the soon-to-be inaugurated new Russian president.
So, resigned to more of the same, I considered a column about Putin’s tears as he announced victory. Was he really crying and if so, why? I mean, in the absence of any serious political opposition, control over national television and an electoral chief who once said “My first rule is that Putin is always right,” was it such a surprise to him? Was it really such a shock that he started weeping like a little girl?
And if it was the rain and the wind, as some claim, and not tears, then why were Medvedev’s eyes dry? Even though he was standing right next to Putin? It’s a mystery, but not one I feel like devoting a column to.
Still, it gave me an idea. Instead of writing “Putin” from now on, for this column at least, I will write “He Who Sobs with Joy”. It will give me a break from Russian politics most famous five-letter-word and will also boost my word count.
I also seriously thought about devoting a column to tonight’s protests against He Who Sobs with Joy’s victory. They could be a game-changer as far as Russian politics goes. Or, then again, they might turn out to be a damp squib. Russia is pretty unpredictable like that.
Tensions are pretty high though, what with the opposition not being too keen to come to terms with the fact that He Who Sobs with Joy is set to remain in power now until 2018. Or even 2024, if he wins a second term. That’s a long time for anyone to be in charge, even if he was the most benign, gracious and purest leader on the planet. I’m not sure who that title might apply to, but it certainly isn’t He Who Sobs with Joy.
I also considered telling you all how I won the RIA Novosti newsroom poll bet, predicting 63 percent for He Who Sobs with Joy to the eventual 64 percent or so that he looks to have gained. But, well, I guess I just have. And I can’t really stretch that for 800 words, or so.
So, did He Who Sobs with Joy steal the elections or not?
It all depends, I guess, what you mean by “steal.” As far as the actual voting goes, no one was under any illusions; He Who Sobs with Joy was always going to turn out the winner. Even allowing for reports of electoral violations, it wasn’t really like Russians had any other choice.
Just look at He Who Sobs with Joy’s rivals at the polls; a die-hard, ancient communist, a rabid, clearly insane nationalist, a very tall oligarch, and former He Who Sobs with Joy supporter.
He Who Sobs with Joy couldn’t have wished for better rivals if he had…er…chosen them himself, which, in effect, he did. He constructed a political system in which there is no genuine opposition, or at least not one allowed on the ballot. We’ll see the real opposition tonight, by the way. Plus a lot of cops, water cannons, riot police, and so on.
(It really does help, by the way, writing He Who Sobs with Joy instead of P….Pity I probably won’t be able to use it when I have to file “real” news stories.)
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
From lurid tales of oligarch excess to scare stories about Moscow’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy supplies, the land that gave us Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin is very rarely out of the news. But there is much more to modern Russia than billionaire tycoons and political conspiracy. Marc Bennetts’ weekly column, Deeper Than Oil, goes beyond the headlines to explore the hidden sides of the world’s largest, and often strangest, country.
Marc Bennetts is a journalist who has written about Russian spies, Chechen football and Soviet psychics for a number of UK newspapers, including The Guardian and The Times. He is also the author of Football Dynamo: Modern Russia and the People’s Game (Virgin Books).