"This isn't funny anymore."
March 15, 2015 12:17 AM   Subscribe

Putin Has Vanished, but Rumors Are Popping Up Everywhere.
“I have enough trouble keeping track of the whereabouts of one world leader,” said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. “I would refer you to the Russians for questions on theirs. I’m sure they’ll be very responsive.”
This is, in large part, a crisis of the Kremlin’s making. (Previously)
posted by Little Dawn (201 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can't a head of state get their appendix out in peace anymore?

I'm sure he'll turn up like a bad penny soon enough.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:27 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I heard he was in Italy, at the birth of his love child.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:04 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


No worries y'all, we went on a double date with him yesterday. Charming head of state, but terrible tipper.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:27 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, the last Putin story in the NYT before this (on the 6th) said Putin Takes a Pay Cut, so he's obviously just taking some flex-time off. That's what I'd do if I got a pay cut.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:29 AM on March 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Maybe he's having some work done.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:30 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


When he said he was personally investigating the murder of one of his political opponents, he meant undercover Jason Bourne style.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 1:32 AM on March 15, 2015 [42 favorites]


Here's is that clip of PutDiePie enjoying some standup, trying to "make his new face laugh". Scary.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:34 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was aliens, Isn't it obvious?

We need to band together and invade space! Protect the earthlings!

I suggest we spend all the worlds military budget to set up a remote colony on Mars, Neptune and Saturn.
Create a buffer zone between us and the aliens!

This is for our protection!
Stop the alien menace!
posted by FallowKing at 1:34 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


#putinhassyphillis

It's time...
posted by Chuffy at 1:49 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Remember when Kim Il Un "vanished" and the news was all speculative, then he showed up again. I think he was replaced by aliens.
posted by telstar at 2:05 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Russia just needs Putin impersonators crawling all over like Elvis impersonators the U.S.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:17 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


He's fine. He sends his love.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:19 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


May he ride, shirtless, in to the great Russian sunset
posted by rosswald at 2:25 AM on March 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


He's Russian around to this place and that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:33 AM on March 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I was just chatting with the Comte de St. Germain and Judge Crater. According to them, he's just enjoying the Lazarus pit spa bath in the underground city of Agharta. I imagine the Reptoids are probably going to take the opportunity to lobby him, but it's no big deal- after all everybody knows that Putie-Poot's solidly in the pocket of the Gray aliens.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 2:40 AM on March 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was just commenting on this in the Nemtsov thread.

Russia This Week: All the Strange Things Going on in Moscow


Russia Update: Is There a Slow-Motion Coup Under Way?

I bet Primakov is taking over. Either Putin will become a puppet, or he will be replaced by Primakov and Medvedev by Ivanov. All of the confusion is because Putin isn't taking it well. Actually, Primakov doesn't sound all that bad:
In his speech at the prestigious Mercury Club, where he serves as president, on January 13, 2015 Primakov basically "tore Putin's policy to bits."

- He said Donbass should remain in Ukraine
- He opposed Russia's self-isolation
- He advocated a move away from Russia's role as "the world's gas station" and diversification of the economy
- He acknowledged anti-semitism, chauvinism and neo-Nazis as big problems in Russia
If Primakov is this sane and he is truly in charge of the highest security services, it makes a lot of sense for him to step in and stop Putin, who clearly isn't listening. It stands to reason that other senior members of the Russian bureaucracy were actually good friends with Nemtsov, who was an original member of Yeltsin's government and his original choice as successor, and his murder could have been a catalyst for them to step in. Inspired by Schrodinger's Putin, I am half-way through Swan Lake in celebration of Putin's departure.
The site is looping a performance of the ballet Swan Lake because that's the show that Soviet television would run whenever something bad was happening, and the state TV producers didn't have instructions yet about what to say or broadcast.
Maybe there is hope that Russia is taking a turn in the right direction, or of course maybe Putin just has the flu ...
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:43 AM on March 15, 2015 [67 favorites]


#putinhassyphillis

I was thinking along the same lines. That photoshoot of him a while back speaks somewhat to his vanity. And there are a large number of inflammatory diseases of the skin that could be quite difficult to conceal if they appeared on his face. Oral herpes, psoriasis, vitiligo, alopecia areata, any number of infections.

So I reckon he has something unsightly on his hands or face. Or something equally conspicuous, like tremors.
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:43 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Remember when Hillary Clinton said she had deleted 30,000 "irrelevant" emails? Well, maybe there was something relevant accidentally deleted in the process... like Vladimir Putin?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:47 AM on March 15, 2015 [8 favorites]




Whenever Putin's not on-screen, all the other characters should ask, "where's Putin?"
posted by Existential Dread at 2:59 AM on March 15, 2015 [65 favorites]




Whenever Putin's not on-screen, all the other characters should ask, "where's Putin?"

And when he comes back, and he looks completely different, they all need to make sure they address him by name a lot, so we know who he's supposed to be.
posted by Grangousier at 3:06 AM on March 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Remember when Hillary Clinton said she had deleted 30,000 "irrelevant" emails?

29,999 "But, baby, I have to have you now" messages from Putin and one "15 3 15 - come and get me - you know the place" reply from Clinton. Check satellite photos for a newly active volcano in the Aleutian Islands.
posted by pracowity at 3:14 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Has anyone drawn this up as a "Where's Wally?" parody page yet? Because I really want to see that.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:24 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Somebody call Sarah Palin, she can see him from her house.
posted by 7segment at 3:27 AM on March 15, 2015 [27 favorites]


"Has anyone drawn this up as a "Where's Wally?" parody page yet? Because I really want to see that."

The idea's out there, but I don't think anyone's made an actual Where's Waldo with Putin.
Too bad.
posted by FallowKing at 3:29 AM on March 15, 2015


Given that it took Martin Handford at least six months (if not much, much longer) to do a spread, we can't really expect that until the Autumn at the earliest. By which time, with any luck, everyone will already have forgotten who he was.
posted by Grangousier at 3:35 AM on March 15, 2015


I saw Putin drinking a Piña Colada at Trader Vic's....
His hair was perfect.
posted by jenkinsEar at 3:44 AM on March 15, 2015 [65 favorites]


Golden Eternity: chauvinism is a really confusing word since the '60s, which meaning is intended there?
posted by idiopath at 4:09 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chuffy: "#putinhassyphillis"

Putin H. Ass-syphillis?
sorry
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:14 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I expect many more fantastic Putin/Russian stories over the next few weeks, roughly on a par with North Korean tales: Putin's Russia Sacks American PR Firm.

It's worth the effort to make a boogyman out of the Russian leader. The F-35 program cost, according to Wikipedia, is $59.2B for development, $261B for procurement, $590B for operations & sustainment in 2012. A few terrorists hiding out in Yemen or Pakistan don't justify such sophisticated weaponry, nor would even Iran; it's important to have a decently industrialized enemy.
posted by fredludd at 4:25 AM on March 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


Remember when Kim Il Un "vanished" and the news was all speculative, then he showed up again. I think he was replaced by aliens.

Who?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:33 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


He clearly just popped down to Hell for a scheduled meeting with the Dark Lord, got chatting to Thatcher afterwards, and lost track of time. I don't know why everyone's making such a big deal out of it - we've all been there.
posted by billiebee at 4:55 AM on March 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is like Page 3, isn't it? Rest assured you'll see the tit again.
posted by Thing at 5:02 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Putin: Maximum Trolling!
posted by Captain l'escalier at 5:04 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Remember when Hillary Clinton said she had deleted 30,000 "irrelevant" emails? Well, maybe there was something relevant accidentally deleted in the process... like Vladimir Putin?

Wait, deleting emails from people can make them disappear?? Excuse me I need to visit my inbox, stat!
posted by dry white toast at 5:47 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course the secrecy, it's a secret project.
posted by otherchaz at 6:09 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Putin is creepy and awful so I'm happy to laugh at the plastic surgery jokes, but I do hope that it is something harmless like that and not something dangerous or bad for Russia.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:10 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Don't worry! He's hiking the Uralian trail.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:13 AM on March 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


i saw him at burger king in kalamazoo eating lunch with elvis
posted by pyramid termite at 6:15 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


'Flu. (Full credit to my wife who posited this two days ago.)
posted by BWA at 6:20 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beware the Ides of March.
posted by humanfont at 6:23 AM on March 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


He's preparing to climb Mt Everest. Right now he's got dysentary in some Himalayan village, on his way to base camp.
posted by jenjenc at 6:27 AM on March 15, 2015


Oh for the love of... I have to lecture on Putin in a few weeks! Don't make me have to rewrite my lectures, Russian officialdom!
posted by Dreadnought at 6:32 AM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Eagerly awaiting the next episode of The Bugle. So many song options for John...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:34 AM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


On one hand, the idea that your leader can't get the flu, or admit to getting it, seems ridiculous to me. On the other hand, I can't remember the last time an American president had the flu. And I can't remember any significant health problems since W's pretzel.
posted by maryr at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, I can't remember the last time an American president had the flu.

The Japanese do.
posted by Bromius at 6:44 AM on March 15, 2015 [120 favorites]


On one hand, the idea that your leader can't get the flu, or admit to getting it, seems ridiculous to me.

Nuclear football, and all. But Putin's been gone nine days. That's some serious flu. I have my bets placed on him rolling the dice one too many times on wrestling with a Siberian tiger.
posted by dis_integration at 7:29 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well she sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina,
She's a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize...
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 7:36 AM on March 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Q: So, if you're Russian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?

A: European!
posted by chavenet at 7:48 AM on March 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


And when you are done you are Finnish.

Sorry.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:51 AM on March 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


When asked for comment Mark Sanford said the thought Putin was hiking the Appalachia trail.
posted by nickggully at 7:54 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


The last time there was a coup attempt in Russia, the inital party line was something along the lines of "Mikhail Gorbachev is ill and resting at his dacha," so it's perfectly reasonable to raise an eyebrow so quickly you pull a muscle in your forehead.

Personally, I'll be following the New York Post's erudite foreign policy analysis as the story develops, baby.

I see what they did there.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:54 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Andrei…You've lost *another* president?"
posted by Chrysostom at 7:58 AM on March 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


If the president having the flu and the Japanese completely whizzed over your head like it did mine : here
posted by pravit at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I heard he was playing pinochle with Jimmy Hoffa.
posted by mule98J at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


To add to pravit, regarding American presidents and flu here's a wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush_vomiting_incident

(it went over my head too)
posted by olya at 8:11 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


#WeekendAtVladdies
posted by tonycpsu at 8:13 AM on March 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


"This isn't funny anymore."

Apparently Metafilter can fix that right up.
posted by dry white toast at 8:13 AM on March 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Relax, y'all. He's just on an extra-long weekend at Bernie's.
posted by TwoStride at 8:13 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


(it went over my head too)

It went in the Prime Minister's lap. (Q: What do you call a Republican with the flu? A: A "yak-a-Tory.")
posted by octobersurprise at 8:23 AM on March 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Seen on the Left Bank, going to DSK's victory orgy.
posted by lometogo at 8:23 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: "Maybe he's having some work done."

Can't imagine this was scheduled or anticipated in anyway.
posted by Mitheral at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2015


Under the circumstances, are we sure we want him back?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2015


Under the circumstances, are we sure we want him back?

I believe it was Kylie Minogue that said, "better the devil you know".
posted by Talez at 8:29 AM on March 15, 2015


My husband swears he just saw Putin wrestling on WWE.
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, NO, but he is at a secret base training this guy for his bout at Wrestlemania.
posted by vrakatar at 8:42 AM on March 15, 2015


You guys, he's just binge watching the new House of Cards...
posted by brainimplant at 8:47 AM on March 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


I thought about posting this to MeFi but it seems premature. His reappearance is promised in St. Petersburg on Monday, or in about 18 hours. If he doesn't show then I'll be much more worried. Even despots deserve a week off, you know?

Most of the explanations floated here are wildly irresponsible unsourced rumors. As fascinating as a coup from Primakov would be it's not exactly the most likely explanation; the popularity of the idea here says more about Metafilter than Russia. The post about Russian tanks in Moscow is also hugely irresponsible. Wait until a reputable news organization reports something like that before taking it seriously. Or at least a bunch of photo posts on VK.

It's quite likely he's just sick or maybe having a little cosmetic surgery. I am curious about the girlfriend-giving-birth-in-Ticino story. The WaPo is reporting it as clearly untrue because the Kremlin said so. But I haven't read closely enough to verify; is Alina Kabayeva actually in Ticino? Did she really have a baby? That would seem to be easily verifiable. (The source for the first report is a local gossip magazine.)

Also I know it's fun to make jokes about something like this. But Putin is a very scary, very powerful man. And Russia is in a particularly scary and unstable situation right now. The economy is collapsing, it is in open warfare with Ukraine (a proxy war with European influence), and they love to keep talking about their growing nuclear arsenal. It's a bit like whistling past a graveyard, I guess.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


everyone knows that russian politics is just like life - you get out of it what you putin
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 AM on March 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


His reappearance is promised in St. Petersburg on Monday, or in about 18 hours. If he doesn't show then I'll be much more worried. Even despots deserve a week off, you know?

But he's already had scheduled appointments that he's missed - why should Monday be any different? Why are events that happened before his "disappearance" being portrayed as happening later? Just that is already quite worrisome, but I don't know whether to chalk it up to Putin's bizarre cult of personality or actual issues.
posted by LionIndex at 8:55 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, LionIndex. I've been approaching this story based on how it hit the American media, which was yesterday. So it's like he disappeared yesterday. But as you say he's been missing meetings for days.

For some reason I'm suddenly reminded of the story of how the NSA helped Yeltsin during the 1991 coup. NSA had been spying on Russian generals' phones for years. In the crisis moment NSA chose to share those intercepts with Yeltsin, to help him better understand who was against him in the coup. It was a big risk for them, giving up what had been a secret intelligence channel. Crazy and fascinating story.
posted by Nelson at 8:59 AM on March 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


29,999 "But, baby, I have to have you now" messages from Putin and one "15 3 15 - come and get me - you know the place" reply from Clinton. Check satellite photos for a newly active volcano in the Aleutian Islands.

If he was with Merkle I could use a bad "Putin on the Fritz" pun because those two have really When Harry Met Sally chemistry.
posted by srboisvert at 9:01 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guys, maybe the real Putin was inside of us all along.

(Also people keep saying 'slow motion coup' and I'm getting passed off cause coups are not, by definition, slow-moving and I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 AM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've been approaching this story based on how it hit the American media, which was yesterday. So it's like he disappeared yesterday. But as you say he's been missing meetings for days.

True. This is the first time I've seen this mentioned anywhere, which seems oddly belated to me. There's more mystery than story at the moment.
posted by LionIndex at 9:04 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]




Wonderful picture the Telegraph has chosen there.
posted by sobarel at 9:05 AM on March 15, 2015


Look, I have the solution. I have two kids down with the flu here today, so Putin can come on over, lie on the couch in his PJs, sip ginger ale, and mope right along with them while I fuss about the house. I'll let you all know when he show up.
posted by nubs at 9:10 AM on March 15, 2015


"a Piña Colada at Trader Vic's...."

This reference I don't get. Share, people.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:24 AM on March 15, 2015


This reference I don't get. Share, people.

Werewolves of London
posted by LionIndex at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trader Vic's, the bible of Yeltsin.
posted by clavdivs at 9:28 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.

In before languagehat:

Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooup.

You're welcome.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:31 AM on March 15, 2015 [56 favorites]


I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.

That would be Capitalism.
posted by dry white toast at 9:34 AM on March 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


i think the technical term is little deuce coup
posted by pyramid termite at 9:36 AM on March 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


I can't stop imagining G. W. Bush wandering around his ranch looking for Putin calling out "Heeeeeere Pootie-poot! Heeeeeere Pootie-poot!" (à la Will Ferrell impersonation).
posted by Abon Sapi at 9:39 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regarding Putin simply fighting off a cold at his dacha outside Moscow:

@russiannavyblog: "these flight restrictions around Valdai have been in effect for a while...they aren't always up..makes sense"
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"a Piña Colada at Trader Vic's...."

This reference I don't get. Share, people.


Sorry, had to.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:48 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Snowden's deep cover finally paid off.
posted by benzenedream at 9:53 AM on March 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Two Russians, one coup
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:53 AM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've been following this story. What's interesting is that as of a few minutes ago, neither the NYT, Google News or the BBC has the word "Putain" (oops, I mean "Putin") on their front page...

Which - I hope - means that there's no story there. Of course, when Putin leaves (probably by dying), the substance will really hit the fan...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:01 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


He clearly just popped down to Hell for a scheduled meeting with the Dark Lord

How do you get to hell if you don't have a soul?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:14 AM on March 15, 2015


I found him!
posted by gideonswann at 10:15 AM on March 15, 2015


Maybe he's just looking for the Techniker?
posted by bonje at 10:22 AM on March 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.

Putsch?
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]






@DarthPutinKGB: "You've been looking for me? I've been at the dacha marathon watching House of Cards..."

That makes sense. Maybe someone gave Putin all five seasons of The Wire.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


@darth has a picture with Putin
posted by Nelson at 11:04 AM on March 15, 2015


If he were really clever, this could be Putin's version of a Hundred Flowers Campaign, a way of smoking out potential opponents and critics.

That is, he disappears for a week and a half, sees who appears to be unusually happy about the situation, comes back and gets his enemies list nice and refreshed with new entries. A few polomium pills and poisoned-tipped umbrellas later, and the campaign is a success.
posted by gimonca at 11:10 AM on March 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


The WaPo is reporting it as clearly untrue because the Kremlin said so.

Oh, well that settles it, then. *rolls eyes so hard you can actually hear it*
posted by sexyrobot at 11:10 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


As fascinating as a coup from Primakov would be it's not exactly the most likely explanation; the popularity of the idea here says more about Metafilter than Russia.

At the time you posted this, the "popularity" of the idea amounted to two mentions of the possibility.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:18 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


What's interesting is that as of a few minutes ago, neither the NYT, Google News or the BBC has the word "Putain" (oops, I mean "Putin") on their front page...

MetaFilter is late to the party. This was part of the Thursday/Friday news cycle: Russia Putin: Kremlin denies president health rumours (BBC 3/12), Putin Has Vanished, but Rumors Are Popping Up Everywhere (NYT 3/13), Where is President Putin? (BBC 3/13), #BBCtrending: Where is Putin?, ...
posted by effbot at 11:22 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I bet U.N.C.L.E. has him.

seriously, one of the first photos I ever saw of Putin was a late 60's/early 70's shot of him in a turtleneck and that show was the first thing that I thought of.
posted by jonmc at 11:24 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


At the time you posted this, the "popularity" of the idea amounted to two mentions of the possibility.

I was referring to the 45 favorites on the comment laying out the Primakov coup theory. (45 now, 31 at the time). I liked the comment too and I know favorites aren't necessarily endorsements, but my fear is someone reads that speculation and nods knowingly, saying "yep it must be a coup".
posted by Nelson at 11:26 AM on March 15, 2015


There was a time when you could almost believe announcements from the Russian government but those days are long over. Now we're back to the days of "TASS is authorized to announce..." Crossing my fingers for a new devil with hopefully less ambitious designs.
posted by Ber at 11:32 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Andropov did the same thing, Putin will be back after his bunker shuffle.
posted by clavdivs at 11:35 AM on March 15, 2015


If there is something happening, this might be a good time for Merkel and Obama to admit they made mistakes on the EU association agreement with Ukraine and try to provide the Kremlin a means to save face and change direction.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:38 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


If there is something happening, this might be a good time for Merkel and Obama to admit they made mistakes on the EU association agreement with Ukraine and try to provide the Kremlin a means to save face and change direction.

“Hey Ukraine; sorry, but you're Russia's bitch. No hard feelings…”
posted by acb at 11:41 AM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


He ate that chicken fillet. It's what you do then: pukein
posted by Namlit at 11:42 AM on March 15, 2015


"A new set of mystery billboards has appeared...this time promising "Somebody is going to get knocked out"
[...]
"And that's all they'll say until Monday, March 16."
posted by clavdivs at 11:44 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe he's trying out Obama's "strategic patience" strategy for a while?
posted by Kabanos at 11:46 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


> It's a bit like whistling past a graveyard

Perhaps more like Whistling In The Dark...

When I posted the OP, I didn't realize the extent of the "whirlwind of satirical speculation," until the comments started rolling in here and I went looking for a 'Where's Waldo' parody. I find this Snark Revolution to be a fascinating phenomenon, particularly because Putin is otherwise a "very scary, very powerful man."
posted by Little Dawn at 11:50 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Italian news originally floated the love child in Ticino explanation but, while the hospital does confirm that Alina Kabayeva was there and had a daughter, it apparently happened weeks ago. And the Kremlin denies that Putin had another child which would seem unnecessary since they already have two other children together so why bother hiding the third?

But this is obviously all speculative.
posted by lydhre at 11:54 AM on March 15, 2015


Maybe Putin .... flu the coup.
posted by chavenet at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


"my fear is someone reads that speculation and nods knowingly, saying "yep it must be a coup."

And? So what? This isn't exactly the World Governing Body Headquarters or a meeting of Covert Spy Agency. We're not Putin's loved ones, awaiting word from his kidnappers. Nor is it a question of the meat pie left in the car overnight. Nothing we say here will impact Putin's location, return, or continued absence.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 12:03 PM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]




Most likely he is on some sort of thing. Classic move, if trouble brews, go somewhere like an army base or fortress and see what falls out out of the walls.
posted by clavdivs at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2015


He's riding on a weasel riding a woodpecker. Look again, now it is diamonds.
posted by jamaro at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


He's regenerating. When he comes back he'll be played by Idris Elba.
posted by brundlefly at 12:42 PM on March 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


He is in Kazakhstan hiding the mass graves, and supervising the dismante on that Air Malaysia plane, that was supposed to become a terrorist weapon, once the deal was done with used arms merchants, and Khazakmaf types. Sssssssh! Can't you see he's busy?
posted by Oyéah at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2015


I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.

Sedan.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:48 PM on March 15, 2015 [34 favorites]




If he were really clever, this could be Putin's version of a Hundred Flowers Campaign, a way of smoking out potential opponents and critics.

I was going to mention something similar to this last night, but could not for the life of me remember the term for the strategy. While similar to the Hundred Flowers Campaign, what I am thinking of is more of a specific subset of a False Flag Operation. It's used when you are fairly certain there are leadership elements within the government and military that are waiting to rebel or seize power, but are not sure of the extent of it. So you create a fake situation (often, but certainly not always, a coup d'etat) that gives the impression of some serious weakness or instability that appears to be a perfect moment to size power in some fashion, but actually is just a ruse to draw out those plotting against you and those who seem loyal but would also jump at the chance to remove you. Once drawn out, the opposition can be rounded up. I have vague recollections of this being used at various times during the cold war, but I can't remember exactly when or where.

While I highly doubt that this is what is actually going on, it was the first thing to come to mind, and that's the biggest reason I doubt it. Such a theory relies far too much on my assumptions and interpretation of Putin, and nowhere near enough on actual, reliable information about what happened just before he disappeared - things like reassignments of military commands, locations and activities of various political and business leaders, troop movements, equipment shipments, banking activity, sudden expansion and reactivation of lesser-used or defunct military installations (especially ones far from Ukraine), etc.

If Putin actually planned something like this, it could have been in the works for months or even a year before now. The problem is, the only people who would have access to enough information to look backward and then sift through the data to find solid supporting evidence are inside the intelligence departments within governments and militaries of a few select countries.
posted by chambers at 1:01 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


And in hopefully unrelated news, the Novodevichy Convent is on fire (first reports I saw said "Kremlin area" but the convent is a few miles to the southwest, if I'm reading my map correctly).
posted by effbot at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


@christogrozev: "I am not kidding you. Kisselyov now on RU TV talking about "The US is a country of liars", no program interruption to report fire."
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:59 PM on March 15, 2015


Thanks to Golden Eternity for the links above to The Interpreter site; some really informative reading there.
posted by mediareport at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know there's a specific term for a slower version of a coup but I can't find it.

"The Barack Hussein Obama administration." /Fox

Usually just "slow-motion coup" or the term that arose mid-century (coined by Ellsworth Bunker about the Dominican Republic, it appears), "creeping coup" -- popular to describe political situations in Africa and Latin America, primarily.

Once drawn out, the opposition can be rounded up. I

Possibly thinking of a self-coup or auto-coup (and now usual only in non-political slang, palace coup), e.g. the strategy of Fujimori in Peru? There are also counter-coups, of course, and many shaded variants. Or maybe you're referring to the "strategy of tension", stay-behind ops, and the alleged (I'm not entirely sold, at least beyond Italy) Gladio project. Or maybe a "silent coup", a term that's been used regarding Putin?

Note: as of 2013 there is a Coup D'état Project at the Cline Center for Democracy. Interesting.

Anyway, if Putin has a cough, then surely it's a croup.
posted by dhartung at 3:03 PM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of my more paranoid friends, a lady with interesting ties in the Croatian Diaspora asked me very seriously if Obama 'got rid' of Putin somehow. Both of us are old enough that we had Cold War childhoods, drop-drills and Red Scared and HUAC and all.
I told her 'I wish Obama had got rid of him but I don't think he did. If anyone got rid of him it was an inside job'.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:25 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Italian news originally floated the love child in Ticino explanation but, while the hospital does confirm that Alina Kabayeva was there and had a daughter, it apparently happened weeks ago.

So it's not clear if you're talking about Italian-language news or news media in Italy, but just to clarify, Ticino is in Switzerland. I haven't seen anything about a confirmation in serious Swiss media; the NZZ (which is about as much newspaper of record as things can get in Switzerland) found no substance to the rumors among their sources in medicine and politics. They also talked to the the clinic in question who just stated that they don't respond to such requests.
posted by effbot at 3:34 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


My mother thinks that he is getting face lift or a hair transplant. That's a new one, to me, anyway.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:02 PM on March 15, 2015


My mother thinks that he is getting face lift or a hair transplant.

Maybe he's in South Africa...
posted by Sys Rq at 4:05 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dhartung, those are all close to what I am thinking of. The one thing about the 'whatsitsname' strategy is that its main goal is to maintain the current power structure, with any additional powers gained afterwards more of a bonus than anything else, and not to a degree that it makes it easy to label it a mere grab for huge expansions in power.

In addition, the whole thing may not even be easily recognizable from the outside even after its over. Ideally, the general population would not be involved at all. Including them in the plan makes it much riskier, as you're introducing all sorts of random factors that can combine into something that is out of control. The goal is to find and remove subversive elements inside an authoritarian machine that could threaten it if they actively combined their efforts, and remove them with minimal damage to the machine itself.

A modicum of uncertainty and confusion is to be expected, as the populace wonders where their leaders are, but can be addressed afterwards in a series of public appearances and announcements of programs and initiatives that show the leader is still in charge and is doing things 'for the people.' Meanwhile, there are a series of quiet changes in staff through out the government and military through early retirement, reassignments, arrests for unrelated offenses, tragic 'training accidents,' etc. Of course, things didn't always turn out as planned, things get out of hand, and everyone is worse off than before, the government ends up weaker than ever, with the real threat of some sort of rebellion is in the air, and everyone is up to their elbows in blood for years.

I really thought there was a specific name for this. Maybe there isn't. If not, there should be. All I can remember was that I learned of it in maybe the late 80s-early 90s, and it was considered to be part of the Soviet's playbook to counteract the West's various attempts to destabilize smaller, communist-leaning governments throughout the Cold War.
posted by chambers at 4:15 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's building his clone army.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:33 PM on March 15, 2015


fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit: "Eagerly awaiting the next episode of The Bugle. So many song options for John..."

What's eerie is that they predicted Putin's demise on their last episode:

"I think a possibility is that he might assassinate himself, just to see how he reacts to it. I think he might be reaching that level of boredom with his own provocations."
posted by pwnguin at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2015


effbot, I know Ticino is in Switzerland. The Italian news hung the speculation on the Berlusconi connection: Berlusconi and Putin are friends (or "friends") and allegedly it was a clinic Berlusconi recommended because his daughter had given birth there. Or something.

But it's all probably gossip, obviously.
posted by lydhre at 5:27 PM on March 15, 2015


Bad breakup. He's currently bundled up in a terry-towelling robe demolishing tub after tub of ice cream and acquiring cats.
posted by um at 5:28 PM on March 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


a lady with interesting ties in the Croatian Diaspora asked me very seriously if Obama 'got rid' of Putin somehow

Funny thing is, if something has happened to Putin (and at this point I'm not convinced that something has), there's a chunk of conspiracy-minded folks who'll be saying exactly that. Shit, FOX & Friends might even have a guest who'll wonder aloud "What has Obama done with Putin?"
posted by octobersurprise at 5:29 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I think a possibility is that he might assassinate himself, just to see how he reacts to it. I think he might be reaching that level of boredom with his own provocations."

Heh. There was a joke I saw on twitter that went something like: "The KGB could not have killed Putin because Putin would not have benefited from it."
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:31 PM on March 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Shit, FOX & Friends might even have a guest who'll wonder aloud "What has Obama done with Putin?"

Thanks, Obama!

No, really, thank you.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 6:20 PM on March 15, 2015


Shit, FOX & Friends might even have a guest who'll wonder aloud "What has Obama done with Putin?"

"Infamously jealous and thin-skinned, Obama couldn't stand continual unflattering comparisons to the manly and decisive Putin, so he arranged to have him disappear from the global stage."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:57 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bad breakup. He's currently bundled up in a terry-towelling robe demolishing tub after tub of ice cream and acquiring cats.

Sadimir Putin
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:00 PM on March 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Elopement. All those years of gazing at one another across the Bering Straight, they finally said what the hell; so long Todd, hello Vladimir Palin! Shotgun wedding!

Seriously though, between the two of them, they have a terrifying amount of shotguns.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:04 PM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Amen.
posted by clavdivs at 7:16 PM on March 15, 2015


Putin was just as surprised by Matt's retirement as the rest of us. I think it really started him thinking that maybe it is time to hang it up as well. Honestly I wouldn't be suprissed if he turns Russia over to Cortex.
posted by humanfont at 7:17 PM on March 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


That would be a Pronunciamiento.
If it is a coup it would be a Palace Coup.
posted by clavdivs at 7:25 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


On a bourgeois honeymoon, at Disneyland with his new wife and three kids. Everyone succumbs to Disney eventually.
posted by Oyéah at 8:07 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Disney against the metaphysicals.
posted by clavdivs at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2015


Kadyrov, FSB at War After Nemtsov Death
(Kadyrov's) political alliance with Putin's aide Vladislav Surkov, who owes his return to the Kremlin to Kadyrov's intervention, has created a lock over Putin's succession plans, where any future Russian president should be acceptable to Kadyrov. His willingness to play a central role in physically suppressing anti-Putin opposition opened a horrifying prospect of a sectarian war in Russia.
Based on speeches they've given, I think it's fair to say that Primakov and Ivanov were both critical of what was happening in Ukraine and Russia. In particular Primakov was against having Russian uniformed troops in Ukraine to take Donbas because it would strengthen Europe's commitment to NATO. Kadyrov, I think, was committed to the war. Perhaps he had committed to getting it done without many regular troops, and the heat was on. Nemtsov was just about to release a report about regular troops in Ukraine. It's hard to believe Kadyrov acted alone, but if he did, what does it say about Putin that his top lieutenant is allowed to decide to eliminate important, well known people without Putin even knowing? Who else could end up on Kadyrov's hit list?

Primakov and Ivanov seem to have a reasonable vision of the future of Europe where NATO would eventually, in a hundred years or so, be replaced by a security arrangement agreeable to the US, Russia, and Europe, but that this would happen mutually and peacefully. The US's vision is probably that this would just be NATO. The hardline Russian vision seems to be to breakup NATO and expand Russia's "land empire" by starting conflicts in Russian speaking areas like Donbas, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, and Russian speaking areas of the Baltics fueled internally by insane propaganda about European decadence and the Nazi junta. Also by funding neo-Nazi and other oopposition parties throughout Europe. I've heard people concerned that Putin may be replaced by hardliners, but Putin-Surkov-Dugin-Kadyrov seem like the hardliners compared to Primakov and Ivanov.

It seems that Putin may make an appearance in St. Petersburg tomorrow. That should be interesting. Surkov is reportedly out of the country on vacation. Dugin has been accusing Western journalists of making him look bad (by directly quoting him), and Kadyrov is upset that Putin won't answer the phone.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:26 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]




It's the f'n HuffPo, but I found this almost more intriguing than other reports: Kremlin's Troll Army is Quiet: Sign of a Coup
Now, if HuffPo were a real news outlet, that headline would read Sign of a Coup?

That led to this maximal speculation: Is There a Russian Coup in Progress? If So, Pray for Us All
posted by dhartung at 11:17 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oligarchs out, 'siloviki' in? Why Russia's foreign policy is hardening

According to this article the hardline 'siloviki' have already been in power, and that's how it seems to me. I don't see why they would need remove Putin, who's already doing practically everything they want and has 80%-90% popular support. Maybe the oligarchs and more reasonable siloviki are trying one last time to get power back before Russia egregiously breaks the Minsk agreement with a Mariupol offensive that will likely trigger more sanctions and arms to Ukraine.

A coup to take power back from the siloviki seems like a good move and I hope it succeeds if that's what's happening.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:38 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Probably just chasing Christopher Lambert around NYC with a sword.
posted by klangklangston at 1:31 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pronunciamiento.

I thought this was when you were like "Okay guys I'm in charge now" and if you were popular enough all the other military dudes were like "Sweet, I'm down" and if you weren't popular enough you got shot in the head
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:35 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Monday meeting has been postponed until Friday.
posted by ryanrs at 2:46 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fast work. The BBC, CNN, NYT, the Guardian, none of them has picked up this yet.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:12 AM on March 16, 2015


Well, TASS is still basically state media, so other outlets covering that would basically be reporting rumors without any corroboration.
posted by Abon Sapi at 3:35 AM on March 16, 2015


Ah, two different meetings: Monday (today) with the president of Kyrgystan and Friday with presidents of Kazakhstan and Belarus. Darn.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:52 AM on March 16, 2015


Well, here he is.
posted by chill at 3:55 AM on March 16, 2015


So, we can strike "he's dead" off the list at least!
posted by chill at 3:59 AM on March 16, 2015


That's an animatronic puppet.
posted by Pendragon at 4:04 AM on March 16, 2015


*Still* no media updates online.

Remember the last photo op was faked so I remain to be convinced.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:08 AM on March 16, 2015


What? It's all over Twitter. Tons of journalists there.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:14 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's actually doing some filming as the Stig.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 4:16 AM on March 16, 2015


I mean, the BBC et al had not updated their websites (now they have).
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:23 AM on March 16, 2015


Well, this is anticlimactic
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:36 AM on March 16, 2015


Russia's Putin reappears after 10-day absence
President Vladimir Putin has appeared in public for the first time since 5 March, quelling intense speculation about his health.

He was meeting President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, in St Petersburg.

Commenting on the rumours about his health, Mr Putin said "things would be boring without gossip", RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Earlier, Mr Putin ordered Russia's navy on to a state of full combat readiness in the Arctic.

Russia says the navy drills involve 56 warships, planes and 38,000 personnel.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:39 AM on March 16, 2015


Putin is a real-life Bond villain. It's going to take something really weird to take him out. Something with helicopters and a nuclear bomb countdown and a few tanks.
posted by cmyk at 4:40 AM on March 16, 2015


It's going to take something really weird to take him out. Something with helicopters and a nuclear bomb countdown and a few tanks.

Or the awkward swallowing of a blini while laughing.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:43 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can the blini be radioactive at least?
posted by cmyk at 4:46 AM on March 16, 2015


He was probably out giving the living quarters in a new nuclear bunker a test run.
posted by Quilford at 4:47 AM on March 16, 2015


It is indeed anticlimactic. Let's hope it stays that way as some of the conjecture was scary!

Here's a video. This is apparently the extend of what he said. One mumbled sentence.
posted by chill at 4:55 AM on March 16, 2015


If anything, this incident made me realize just how unstable and terrifying a nuclear power with a single point of failure can be. It's sometimes good for your government to be padded by petty political conflicts and bureaucracy.
posted by archagon at 5:59 AM on March 16, 2015


Remember that American movie about getting a look-alike for the president because he was in a coma. . .
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:37 AM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


“With your permission, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would like to add something here,” Mr. Atambayev said, addressing the Russian leader, before the news media. “Just now, Vladimir Vladimirovich drove me around the grounds, he was sitting behind the wheel himself. This was to dispel the rumors. I often hear different rumors about myself, this isn’t right. That is, the president of Russia not only walks, he races around, he gives guests rides.”
"He gives guests rides" may not quite have the rumor-quashing oomph Putin was probably hoping for there.

"He walks and is still able to drive" is something you say as a comfort about an elderly relative who is moving into assisted living.
posted by argonauta at 6:38 AM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


"He gives guests rides"

I hope he at least puts his shirt on.
posted by Flashman at 7:50 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The BBC article characterizes his appearance thusly
It is now official: he is neither dead nor would it seem has he been stricken by some life-threatening illness. In fact he looked reasonably healthy in the video broadcast of the meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev in St Petersburg.
It's definitely weird he disappeared. But there's zero evidence there's anything more wrong with him than he had the flu.
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on March 16, 2015


On Twitter it said "Putin spotted."

So maybe it was measles?
posted by chavenet at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


""He gives guests rides" may not quite have the rumor-quashing oomph Putin was probably hoping for there."

"The regular driver called in sick this week, so Putin had to cover his shifts."
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 AM on March 16, 2015


That is pretty much a classic sick leader appearance. Ultra controlled, very short clip, cut up, meeting with someone who would never rat him out.

Lets see a less controlled 'appearance' and I'll be convinced. It does pretty much put coup to rest, though.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2015


KremTrolls are back: and it seems like trouble at the Kremlin
Two possibilities emerge. One is related to the stigma that Surkov bears of a “5th columnist” at the Kremlin. This stigma has been continuously thrown at him by the nut-case-grade right-wing lobby (Fedorov+Dugin+Rogozin). He has been branded as the sole reason Russia “betrayed” Novorossiya. Thus, his processing today might mean that the right-wingers have won the intra-Kremlin strife (and Shoigu’s announcment of a large-scale military exercise today supports this hypothesis).

The alternative explanation is, paradoxically, almost the opposite. Even though Surkov is too soft for the nut-case lobby standards, he is as dark a horse as they come. Suffice it to say that he was helping Yanukovich prepare a strategy against the Maidan and was reported to have been in Kiev during (or just prior to) the sniper killings. The only alternative explanation I can think of, therefore, is that Putin has decided to dump him overboard as a liability in his attempts to reconstruct a roadmap out of the current cold-war with the West.

But this latter hypothesis, I am afraid,  bears the scent of wishful thinking.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:24 AM on March 16, 2015


Didnt look like he had any palsy or blown pupils. Both sides of his face moved and he lifted his hand to touch his nose.

His face was flushed and sweaty. He seemed to be having trouble keeping his eyes open and head up. His posture was also off. He licked his lips and scratched his nose.

Looks to me like he is still dealing with a cold or flu of some kind. Not a stroke or coup.
posted by humanfont at 10:32 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, back to joint exercises.
posted by clavdivs at 11:51 AM on March 16, 2015


He was behind the couch all along!
posted by Kabanos at 2:19 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The ghola is back yo
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this No Yardstick blog is really good:

An obituary
Putin is certainly alive in the physiological sense of the word. But there is a smell of decay lingering around the system that he built.
The bonfire of rationality
Whoever did it for whatever reason, the murder of Nemtsov makes the Russian state reek of incompetence, mismanagement and weakness.
Also:

Kremlintrolls.com

The Trolls Who Came In From The Cold
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:21 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Putin’s Disappearing Act May Be Sign of Leadership Crisis
Since the Ukraine crisis exploded a year ago, Putin’s system of power has rigidified into a uni-centric combination of a police state, kleptocracy and “propagandocracy” (if such a word could be invented), in which no transition of authority can be planned or envisaged. His recent poorly camouflaged and worse explained “disappearance” has not re-confirmed his indispensability, but signaled that the courtier-siloviki will not be able to manage the appointment of a new boss without unleashing a multi-clan feud—in which Kadyrov with his battalions and billions could be a major force. Putin is leading Russia toward state failure; and the incapacitation of this disastrous leadership by some sort of “Ides of March” scenario would likely trigger a big leap forward in this degradation.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:26 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Odd Things About Putin in St. Petersburg (This is from the author of some of the Interpreter Magazine articles.) Kremlinology is fascinating - even if it only exists to make astrology look legitimate.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]










Russian Information Channel presents: Where did Putin go?
posted by Kabanos at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]




None Dare Call It a Conspiracy - "Who was behind the Moscow apartment bombings that accelerated Vladimir Putin's rise to power?" Scott Anderson • GQ • Sep 2009
At 5:03 on the morning of September 13, 1999 - exactly nine years prior to my visit - 6/3 Kashirskoye had been blasted apart by a bomb secreted in its basement; 121 of its residents had died while they slept. That explosion, coming nine days after the one in Buynaksk, was the third of what would be four apartment-building bombings in Russia over a twelve-day span that September, leaving some 300 citizens dead and the nation in panic; it was among the deadliest series of terrorist attacks in the world until September 11. Blaming the bombings on terrorists from Chechnya, Russia's newly appointed prime minister, Vladimir Putin, ordered a scorched-earth offensive into the breakaway republic. On the success of that offensive, the previously unknown Putin became a national hero and swiftly assumed complete control of the Russian state. It is a control he continues to exert today.
This article originally appeared in the pages of GQ. But that was the only place it appeared. GQ's parent company, Conde Nast, refused to allow the article to be published in Russia, appear on the GQ website or be publicized in any way. It is reprinted on Longform thanks to the author, who discussed this piece and more on the Longform Podcast.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:18 AM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]




It looks as if the cease fire in Eastern Ukraine is beginning to unravel...

Nine government soldiers killed in three incidents in east Ukraine

Separatist shelling leaves several dead in eastern Ukraine

And on a more "dire" track of thought... Putin is "reminding" us of his "options" It's behind a pay wall...

As Tensions With West Rise, Russia Increasingly Rattles Nuclear Saber

...

I am starting to think that I picked the wrong year to quit smoking.

Add in Yemen, Syria, Saudi, Kenya, and Egypt... Boko Haram, Daesh, "Polite Green Men", NATO "Advisors"...

Tupolev's breaking the sound barrier over the Baltic...

BUFF's starting sorties above the skies of some of our freshest NATO member states...

I don't think that we are going to make it.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 6:23 PM on April 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




Charles Davis interviews Ilya Budraitkis, spokesperson for a group called the Russian Socialist Movement, for Salon:
You say a lot of people buy into the Russian government’s propaganda on Ukraine. Here in the United States some parts of the left seem to have bought into this too. They think Maidan was basically a Nazi coup backed by Europe and the United States and they kind of ridicule the idea that Russia has inflamed the conflict by supporting the separatists in the East. Can you comment on that?

Of course, both the pictures of what is happening there are very simplified. So firstly, it’s not true that it was a fascist coup in Ukraine because a “coup” is an action of a small, organized, armed group of people. [In Ukraine] the “coup” . . . had the clear support of hundreds of thousands of people. Even if you don’t like it you should recognize that it was a real huge movement with the big support of the population of Ukraine. I have no sympathy with the Ukrainian government that you have now, but for me it’s quite clear it can’t be reduced just to a Western plot. There were some deep social contradictions in Ukrainian society that led to this moment.

Of course, in any situation like this you have the interests: American interests, European interests, Russian interests, and so on. But these interests can work effectively only if you already have some problems within the country. And that is true also for Crimea and the East of Ukraine; you also can’t say that it’s just the result of Russian military intervention. I knew very well even a few years ago what kind of feelings most people in Crimea had toward Russia. So for me it was clear that a total majority of them want to be part of Russia. It was clear for everyone 10 years ago, even 15 years ago, that you have some serious cultural split in Ukraine between the West and East.

And of course what happened after Maidan with this language law from the new government, it was a kind of provocation. But at the same time you can’t imagine that this kind of terrible military confrontation that you have in Eastern Ukraine was possible without Russian participation. For those on the American Left who believe that there is some “anti-fascist” partisans operating in the East of Ukraine, I really recommend reading some books about other guerrilla movements, like Che Guevara or whatever they like. It’s the first [anti-fascist] partisan movement in the history, in Eastern Ukraine, which has more arms and more modern arms than the army who they confront.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:27 PM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Russia just made a ton of Internet memes illegal [WaPo]
According to Russian media, the announcement came in light of a lawsuit filed by the Russian singer Valeri Syutkin, who sued an irreverent Wikipedia-style culture site over an image macro that paired his picture with some less-than-tasteful lyrics from another artist’s song. On Tuesday, a Moscow judge ruled for Syutkin, prompting the Roskomnadzor to publish an update to its “personal data laws.”

Those laws now ban, per Roskomnadzor’s announcement, memes that picture public figures in a way that “has no relation to [their] personality,” parody accounts and parody Web sites. If a public figure believes such a site or meme has been made about him, the announcement continues, he can report them to the Roskomnadzor, which — in addition to overseeing Russia’s Internet censorship program — can file claims in court. Web sites are essentially given the choice of blocking the offending content in Russia, or seeing their whole sites get blocked across the country.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:47 AM on April 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Whoa.
posted by maryr at 10:11 AM on April 11, 2015


Apologies for crossing the streams - there is a new FPP Social Reality - "Many in the west see Russia as aggressive and brainwashed. But its citizens have a different view."
posted by Little Dawn at 11:13 AM on April 11, 2015


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