Monday, January 2, 2012

The "Tandem" Disappointment

It had become a great tradition started by one of the shows on the state-run ORT channel in Russia - "Olivie Show" - to feature the ruling duo of the country in a cartoon during their special New Year's programming. Medvedev and Putin would sum up the year, while performing Russian "chastushki".

2010: First Edition

Although it was seen as quite daring in terms of "acceptable" political satire, the cartoons only made fun of the so-called "tandem", while there was no blunt criticism, as such, of the policies themselves. After all, they were made by and aired on ORT, and were, therefore, within the bounds of acceptable self-criticism. I guess a good way of looking at these would be seeing them as an equivalent of Putin making a joke about himself driving a LADA or, say, diving in search of strategically placed ancient artifacts. 

2011: Second Edition

Given their immense popularity at home and abroad, I was very much looking forward to the 2012 edition [I know many others did, too], especially in light of the recent events and political developments in the country. I was very curious to know what they'd have to tell to their people and the world... But, as I sadly found out, the dancing tandem was no more.

Would be good to know whether they did not make the much-anticipated appearance because of the producers' fear of being critical - no matter the satire - or was it really a message to indicate the fact that the actual Medvedev-Putin duo itself is (or soon will be) no more. One thing I am sure of: the absence cannot be attributed to the lack or shortage of good subjects and issues to feature.

Very disappointing...

Nevertheless, Olivie Show did put on a good performance by Obama and Clinton. Unfortunately, there is no video with English translation/subtitles available, yet I am sure that even non-Russian speakers would appreciate this cover by Mr President and Madam Secretary. [UPDATE: Although I finally saw a version with badly translated English subtitles (below), I believe it would still be difficult to follow the lyrics. Yet, I hope it gives you a very broad and general idea about their meaning.]

Couple of thoughts on this one:

- It is critical - but of course - of the US policies around the world, essentially placing the blame directly on Obama and Clinton.

- Having in mind what the source is and in light of multiple blatant criticisms throughout the past year by various officials or various ranks, I don't think there is anything surprising about it at all. A couple of days ago, for example, Russia Today featured an opinion piece that ran along the same lines.

- Anti-public diplomacy? Seems like the US still has a lot of work to do - especially in Russia...!

Happy New 2012!


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