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Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been seen in public since March 5.

And with little further information to go by -- his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said simply that there is "no reason to worry" and "everything is fine" -- some have naturally assumed the most drastic possible thing that could have happened is what did happen.

"Putin umer" or "Putin has died," is now trending on the Russian Internet.

There's also a website that allows users to ask, "has Putin died?" (the automated response varies with responses like: "No, he's alive" and "No, that's not why it stinks in Moscow.")

And perhaps because people find the very notion rather unlikely, social media users have been trying to imagine what a world without Putin -- or a heaven with him -- might look like.

It's likely that he would have a mass funeral just like Vladimir Lenin, but would Putin be presented in his favored bare-chested uniform?

Would the outpouring of grief on state TV channels match the level of emotion shown when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died?

And who would reach out to him first in heaven? Perhaps his longtime friend and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez?
Translation:
-Hello, Putin, is that you?
-Yes, and who's this?
-It's Chavez. Want to meet up?

But if Putin really were at death's door, would he really show up for his final meeting on time? (The Russian president is notoriously almost always running late)

Translation: It's already nearing noon...and still no Putin!

And after all, dying isn't really in his interests.
Translation:
-Putin can't die.
-Why?
-It's not profitable.

Really though -- is this something to even joke about?

Besides, his press secretary, Peskov, has said despite his disappearance from public view he's still "holding meetings all the time" and even "breaking hands" along the way.

-- Glenn Kates

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 transmission+rferl.org

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