Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On "Putin 2.0"

The Russians will be going to "elect" their president this weekend, and the issue has been rightly getting a lot of attention around the world. Yet, one might claim that there is no real "news" in what many expect to happen, and that it's just the same old "Russian politics done the Russian way". But, since many think that this is something that requires attention, they are - evidently - forced to spice it up a little and cast it all in a "new" light.

Following Joshua Keating's wise suggestion - "Want to spruce up your tired old concept? Put a 2.0 on it!" - there has been a plethora of articles, analysesblog posts, and even events [upcoming, by the way, if you're interested] featuring "Putin 2.0" in some form or shape.

But, since I'm more interested in looking at how the elections battle is actually played out on the "Web 2.0", my focus is elsewhere. If curious to see what's going on on the Russian net, I recommend reading Global Voice's RuNeT Echo section: some insightful reporting and commentary.

Here, I wanted to bring to your attention - perhaps already forgotten - "independent fans" of the current Prime Minister. Remember those who solicited volunteers to "rip" for Putin? Or, the ones washing cars? Well, "Putin's Army" has been especially active lately, producing two music tracks. The first one is said to be their "anthem", while the second - more recent - one is called "Go, Vova Putin!". They also claim to have produced a music video for the latter, but it is currently listed as "private" and cannot be viewed. [Will keep checking and let you know, in case that changes.]

Nonetheless, there was another music video last week. Pretty telling, I believe, in terms of who this "army" is:

Interesting to note that there were tens, if not hundreds of comments to the video, which have, by now, conveniently disappeared.

Sex has been a major part of the Putin and United Russia campaigns - whether official, or unofficial, as in the case above - over the past several months. Suggest reading Luke Allnutt's awesome post on the subject. I guess the only thing I would add was another gem I found on the vKontakte page of the "Putin's Army". It is a poll, asking the respondents' opinion on the "sexiest part" of Putin's body (seriously?!):

Translation [from the top]: eyes; torso; mind; hands; "butt" [verbatim]. Of course, my hope is that the respondents are actually ridiculing the effort; yet, at the rate that this is going, there is no way of knowing for sure...

Then, there was a series of videos produced by a an organization called "Pervyi Raz" [i.e. "The First Time"], encouraging young voters to participate in the elections. The campaign, however, involves young women discussing their anxiety before their first sexual experience:

Here is the second one:

The third video [my personal favorite] shows a young woman getting advice from a fortune teller, who picks up a card featuring Putin with what appears to be a halo:

The comments below these videos did not exude as much love, however... Also, it's worth noting that the English subtitles were provided by the producers, themselves, which suggests that they are trying to attract the attention of foreign audiences, as well (which they have).

There are more "serious" videos, too, warning people about what might come if Putin does not win the elections. They usually paint doomsday scenarios:

And another one, suggesting political vacuum similar to that in Russia in 1917 or present-day Libya:

And yet another one directly linking it all to the Arab Spring and instigation of unrest by the US:

There is, of course, creativity on the opposition's side, as well. (Remember this?) I particularly liked this video, which suggests that Medvedev and Putin are zombifying the population:

Another prominent "protest group" has been "Pussy Riot", a feminist punk band that has been raising eyebrows in the recent months. Among many of the gigs that they held around Moscow was a performance on the Red Square...

... and a punk-prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior:

The Church has currently brought charges against them, accusing them of blasphemy and inciting religious hatred. Clearly, feminists are willing to go a long way for their cause.

Few people doubt that Putin will win the coming elections, even if he is forced to go on to the second round. And although there are many analyses and predictions as to what "Putin 2.0" will bring, one thing can be said for sure: the Internet has played a key role in this election campaign, thus making it all about "Web 2.0".


  1. Very interesting post.
    Videos give much food for thought.
    I think there are quite a few salient points that they make, even though it is propaganda.
    The "Pussy riot" is nauseating, to put it mildly. I cannot help but agree with most of the names that people give them in the comments. Actually, they are inadvertently enhancing already high Putin's image and rating.
    It is most unfortunate that such "feminists" undermine credibility of movements for women's human rights.
    I would like to see those "liberal" and "pro-democracy" pussies try to give the same concert (even perform just one, the same song)in Westminster Abbey or St. Patrick's Cathedral or in Poland or, even, better, in a mosque in some Muslim country...
    ... Today Pilate would ask "What is democracy?"...

  2. Oh, Lenka, I've seen some of this..ehm...tacky pre-election material before, but when put together it really makes a strong impression (not in the good sense). The saddest part is that BOTH sides (judging by the videos they've produced) presuppose no critical thinking whatsoever on the part of the "people." Perhaps they are right - they must know their audience. But all in all, I think that watching this and the presidential candidates' "debates" (esp. those where Zhirinovskii is involved) can cause some serious brain damage or at least persistent depression.
    PS: the videos of the "first time with Putin, only out of love" are just appalling. Frankly, when I read the titles, I thought they are aimed at people looking for porn. And the fourteen-year-olds saying that Putin is sexy - yakh.