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No Sanctions On Santa: Kremlin Takes Aim At West In Flawed Holiday Card

  • Steve Gutterman

Critics have been picking holes in a supposedly lighthearted Christams message that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sent out to journalists.

Critics have been picking holes in a supposedly lighthearted Christams message that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sent out to journalists.

When do geopolitics get onto a Christmas card?

When the Kremlin wants to make merry in a holiday message to journalists -- at the expense of the West.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov took aim at U.S. and EU sanctions, travel bans on Russian officials, and low oil prices that have battered the country’s economy in a New Year's and Christmas greeting card, according to a Kremlin pool reporter who says he got one of the missives.

The front of the card, posted on Twitter by Komsomolskaya Pravda reporter Dmitry Smirnov, shows the snow-dusted onion domes of the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral beneath the words "Administration of the President of the Russian Federation" in gold type. Ornate lettering wishes the recipient a happy New Year and Christmas, which in Russia is celebrated on January 7.

The message inside is less typical. It seeks to make light of the sanctions the United States and EU have imposed on Russia in response to its interference in Ukraine over the past two years, while also taking a jab at U.S. efforts to build coalitions and brushing aside the oil price plunge that has drained the country's coffers.

It goes like this:

"You can't slap sanctions on Grandfather Frost [the Russian Santa Claus]

The New Year needs no visas

A coalition forms all by itself for celebrations round the tree

Unlike oil, champagne isn't getting any cheaper.

Let's make this fairy-tale reality last all 365 days!"

The greeting card was promptly picked apart by critics who pointed to a number of flaws.

2016 will be a Leap Year with 366 days, not 365, some pointed out.

Others questioned why the fact that champagne prices are not falling would be a good thing -- or lamented that the cost of bubbly is rising in Russia, where a ban on many Western foods has driven prices up and inflation is expected to be about 13 percent in 2015. Wages, by contrast, are down 9.2 percent this year.

News of the greeting card came a day after it emerged that a book compiling quotations and speeches by Putin is being sent to officials as a New Year's gift -- a move Kremlin critics likened to Chinese Communist dictator Mao Zedong 's Little Red Book.

With reporting by Bloomberg and

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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

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