Accessibility links

Crying Fowl: Russia Mocked In Memes After Bulldozing Geese

  • Anna Shamanska

In Russia, don’t expect your goose to get cooked -- it may be bulldozed instead.

That’s what happened to three frozen, packaged fowl that ran afoul of the Kremlin’s distaste for food from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia over its interference in Ukraine.

Imported from EU member Hungary, the geese were subjected to something like a Stalin-era show trial -- complete with elaborate charges, earnest witnesses, and exactly zero chance for acquittal -- and then bulldozed at garbage dump in Tatarstan.

Filmed and posted on the Internet, the incident followed a frenzy of destruction that ensued after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering the “extermination” of food imported to Russia in violation of countersanctions banning many Western products.

For some, it took Russia’s war on Western food to a new level of absurdity.

As a result, it spawned a gaggle of mocking memes skewering the Russian authorities. Jabs posted on the Internet played on everything from the Russian word for geese -- gusy -- to the Hungarian origin of the birds.

One user predicted that angry geese would start their own version of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk protest band whose members were jailed for a 2012 stunt in which they criticized Putin. The name: Gusy Riot.

Many others want to believe that geese will get their revenge.

Some Twitter-users said that surviving geese had adopted a new motto, “We didn’t start this war” -- a reference to statements by Putin and other Russian officials who say that Moscow’s recent actions -- from the annexation of Crimea to food bans -- are merely responses to Western aggression.

These words, along with photos of birds, were photoshopped into images of chaos and destruction.

This Facebook post was a hit with fans of Call of Duty -- it makes a playful reference to the popular video game's "No Russian" level, with one of the gun-toting geese saying: “Remember, not a word in Hungarian."

Other Internet users announced the creation of the GPR, or Geese People’s Republic, a reference to the self-proclaimed separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine. It is Russia's support for the separatists, in part, that has led to U.S. and EU sanctions against Moscow.

Others found historical parallels, or took aim at Putin’s frequent stunts involving wildlife.

One Twitter post features a remake of 19th century Russian master Ilya Repin’s painting of Tsar Ivan the Terrible clutching the son he has just slain by his own hand.​

Another shows a shirtless Putin chasing fear-crazed geese with a hunting rifle.

The destruction of the frozen geese, found during a police inspection of a grocery store in the village Apastovo on August 14, followed a more formal procedure.

In accordance with the law, authorities filmed the entire procedure of confiscation, from a detailed explanation of the infraction to the surreal moment when they meet their end at the dump.

“The basis for seizing these products is lack of supporting documents or proper marking, and its name being written only in English,” an official says in the video.

Amid the hail of mockery on social media, the geese got some real-world revenge in the end: The local official responsible for destroying the geese has reportedly received an official reprimand.

It turns out the geese should have been burned, not bulldozed.

“If these are vegetable or garden products, then one can use a bulldozer to crush and destroy,” said Yevgeny Ivanov, deputy head of the state food quality control agency Rosselkhoznadzor in Tatarstan. “They should have burned [the geese], but instead they crushed them with a tractor and put them in a pile."

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Show comments