Few nations in the world are more given to and gifted in the use of anecdotes about many things including their leaders, than the Russians. Sometimes that is because anecdotes say more in a few words than articles can say in hundreds, and sometimes it is because anecdotes have a deniability factor, always useful in repressive conditions.

Russians have been coming up with anecdotes about Vladimir Putin since the very beginning of his rule, but they are now becoming ever more widespread; and Belaruspartisan.org offers a healthy selection of the latest, some of which of course are recycled from the Soviet past much like Putin but others of which are uniquely his.

Below are a few of those from this remarkable Belarusian collection (http://club.belaruspartisan.org/forum/clubpartisan/194140/).

  • What is the latest Russian paradox? Having just won an election, Putin needs the military to defend him against the people who voted for him.
  • A police officer approaches a Russian at a demonstrator and tells him that it is impermissible to call for the overthrow of Putin. The protester says he hasn’t; he’s only called for honest elections. The police officer responds that honest elections are the overthrow of Putin.
  • Two political prisoners are talking. The first asks the second what he was sent to jail for. The second says he drew a cartoon showing Putin as an idiot. Then, under what provision of the law did they sentence you, hooliganism or extremism? No, the second replies, for revealing a state secret.
  • Putin is asked what the rest of Russia is if Moscow is the Third Rome. Putin replies: The rest of Russia is a second Honduras!
  • Putin is asked why he always lies. Putin replies: “I don’t lie … I simply never tell the truth…”
  • Having declared that “the Americans are guilty of all the misfortunes of Russia,” Putin in fact has acknowledged that he is an American spy…”
  • Putin tells the Russian people that the temporary problems will soon be over. Then the permanent ones will begin.
  • US President Obama tells Putin that Western economic sanctions can destroy Russia in three years. Putin replies: “That’s nothing; I can do it in one.”
  • Putin calls on the spirit of Peter the Great who denounces him for all the harm the current president has done to Russia. Putin replies that he has some good points: he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, and he lives in a way that will guarantee he lives for a long time. Peter the Great responds that that is something very bad too. For you to worry about your health, may be good for you, the tsar say. But for Russia it is bad.
  • Putin is asked if he is worried about the brain drain out of Russia. He replies that there is no reason to because he’d never used them anyway.
  • Putin’s reform program: First, make people rich and happy. A list of those who are to be that is attached.
  • Medvedev runs into Putin’s office and shouts that the Nazis have entered Moscow. Putin tells him to calm down: those aren’t Nazis; they are just postmen in the new uniforms Putin has designed for them.
  • When a Western journalist asks how many thousand Russian troops have died in battles with the Ukrainian army, Putin replies that Russian soldiers enjoy taking their vacation in the Donbas so much that many of them aren’t returning.
  • Why didn’t the Kremlin publish the names of the 300 Russian journalists Putin gave awards to for their coverage of the Crimean operation? Because to have done so would have revealed those of FSB agents.
  • Why do some Jews in the Donbas love Putin? Because now, the people there blame him and not the Jews for all shortages.
  • Having conducted negotiations with Hollande and Merkel about the withdrawal of Russian forces which “aren’t in the Donbas,” Putin declares that there were not any negotiations either.
  • Patriarch Kirill believes in Putin the father, Medvedev the son, and the holy Russian Bureaucrat. Putin believes in the evil one, the develop and in Patriarch Kirill…
  • Having seen his latest ratings in the polls, Putin quietly says “Glory to Ukraine!”

By Paul Goble, Window ob Eurasia