How much more can Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin give for his country?
According to lawyer Lyubov Sobol, of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anticorruption Fund, Rogozin now owes Russia one tooth -- and she has launched a campaign on social media to get him to pay up. As of mid-afternoon on January 14, more than 350 people have retweeted Sobol's original appeal for Rogozin's pearly white.
"Let's force Rogozin to keep his promise, eh?" Sobol wrote, linking her tweet to an April 2012 story about an appearance by Rogozin on state television in which he promised that the Vostochny cosmodrome would be operational by the end of 2015.
"We will build the cosmodrome by 2015, I promise," Rogozin said. Unfortunately for the populist Rogozin, instead of just saying "I promise," he used a Russian folk expression with that meaning that translates literally as "I give my tooth."
Now the calendar shows 2016 and the cosmodrome is scheduled to be operational in 2018. Rogozin, on January 2, posted on Facebook a link to a story about how construction workers at Vostochny decided to work through their New Year holiday because they "have no time to rest." The article notes that the first test launch from the new facility -- which is intended to reduce Russia's reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan -- was postponed from December 25, 2015, until "the first quarter of 2016." Rogozin noted the launch will be "the event of the new year."
Sobol says it is time for Rogozin to keep his word.
Social Media Takes A Bite
Her appeal has predictably launched memes such as one saying that "Rogozin is a man of his word":
And this one urging Rogozin to respond:
Rogozin himself has not reacted.
In December, Rogozin was also the center of social-media speculation that he had accidentally shot himself in the foot at a shooting range. An aide denied it, claiming Rogozin had injured his leg playing handball.
The burly former Russian ambassador to NATO regularly posts images of himself in various macho activities such as shooting or riding his motorcycle. On January 10, he posted a video of himself at a shooting range during his recent visit to Belgrade.
The same day that Sobol made her appeal for Rogozin to keep his 2012 promise, the ruling United Russia party issued a statement saying that it would make no campaign promises in connection with parliamentary elections coming up in September.
"It is generally not clear now what can be promised, so -- in the best sense of the word -- the platform will be abstract," the party's statement said. "And, naturally, it will be based on the programmatic statements of the president."