Saturday, July 9, 2011

Oh, "Blyuuuberi Khill"

Of course, it will be a while before the world forgets Putin's memorable performance on that very warm December evening. (By the way, "fundraising for Russia's sick children II" is already on its way, despite all the previous controversy surrounding it.)

Not that the official and unofficial PR corps of "Russia’s judo-hurling, butterfly-swimming, tiger-tranquilizing strongman PM" would let him be forgotten. The following video appeared on YouTube some time over the past week, and what did Russia Today TV do? They reposted it, of course.

I wonder if such form of "recycling" also implies endorsement. After all, the Putin vs. Medvedev battle is already on... What this means for Russia's public diplomacy - a job which RT is allegedly tasked with - is a different question.

Russia's great leader, even if only the "second" at the moment, has tirelessly worked to increase his profile domestically, as well as abroad. Long rides on yellow Lada-s, roaring bike appearances and attempts at making statements of "warmth" in English are only a part of the bouquet.

Here's another interesting piece of info: remember that 2003 international poll where the majority of the respondents referred to communism, KGB, snow and mafia as their top associations with Russia? It seems like 8 years on the image might have changed, a bit; but whether it's for the better, is very questionable.

About a week ago, Russia Beyond The Headlines posted an unofficial poll on their Facebook page through the "Questions" application asking: "If I say Russia what do you think of?" Of course, it's no where close an actual, credible or systematic poll to be cited as trustworthy research; however, there were 416 votes from all over the world, making this an interesting "pilot" project.

As you can see, "Vodka" is on the top - by far - getting 98 votes. "Putin" comes next, with 51 votes. "Mother Russia" and "Beautiful girls" are next in line (I just hope the latter does not refer to "sex-tourism" and mail-order brides...), with Kalashnikovs ("AK-47") among the top five, too. Perhaps the other very ironic association was "Chernobyl" (although it got just 4 votes), which is (and was, even back in 1986) in Ukraine, and not Russia.

Glad to see historical figures and events as well as references to arts and culture in the list, too. Yet, it is obvious that some of the not-so-positive stereotypes are not gone at all. Most of all, it's interesting to see the current Prime Minister figuring so prominently: perhaps he is after all Russia's best public diplomat, for better or worse?

He is trying to personify strength, will, and power, as well as demonstrate some moderate closeness to people and the fauna. I feel compelled to quote the sociological axiom: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

I'm not quite sure it's the best approach to public diplomacy in the case of Russia, however. Particularly in the West.


UPDATE: A friend just shared the following article, which indirectly continues my line of thought in the post above: "Top Kremlin aide says Putin is God's gift to Russia". Quotes of note:

""I honestly believe that Putin is a person who was sent to Russia by fate and by the Lord at a difficult time for Russia," Vladislav Surkov, a staunch Putin supporter and one of Russia's most powerful men, was quoted by Interfax news agency as telling state-run Chechen TV.
"(Putin was) preordained by fate to preserve our peoples," said Surkov, who is also the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff. 
Two months ago, a nun-like sect appeared in central Russia claiming that Putin was a saint and a saviour. A spokesman said Putin "does not approve of that kind of admiration"."

Oh, so now he's a Saint, too...?!


  1. There's no "battle" b/w VVP and DM. no way. DM will not even become a candidate. I bet.

  2. They've got the whole world guessing now :)

    The "battle" is for show. I'm sure they love seeing everyone on their toes :P