Thursday, August 25, 2016


Russia

Hagiographers Unite In Worshipful Celebration Of Putin's Birthday

Sweatshirts depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin have gone on sale at the GUM Department Store in Moscow.
Sweatshirts depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin have gone on sale at the GUM Department Store in Moscow.

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By Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW – To mark his 62nd birthday on October 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin is retreating from public to the remotest depths of the forest-bound Siberian taiga for a rare day off. 

The details are sketchy, but the Kremlin says it will be Putin’s first holiday in 15 years and he will be hundreds of kilometers from the nearest settlement. 

Meanwhile, a series of events are planned across the country to mark Putin's birthday: 

The Twelve Labors Of Putin 

In Moscow, there is an exhibition titled "The Twelve Labors of Putin" on the Red October Island across from the Kremlin. 

Modeled on the ancient Greek myth "The Twelve Labors of Hercules," the exhibition was organized by a group calling itself “The Vladimir Putin Support Network” and features a series of paintings of the Kremlin leader doing battle with a series of opponents. 

In one, Putin fights a multi-headed hydra with a sword and shield. With the severed head of the United States lying at his feet, Putin presses ahead to do battle with Japan, which is breathing down fiery sanctions. 

Another painting portrays Putin taming the Cretan bull, symbolizing Russia's annexation of Crimea.  

And another shows Putin restraining Cerberus, the three-headed “hellhound” of the underworld and catching the Hind of Ceryneia -- metaphors for upstaging Washington and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Russian blogger Georgy Malets noted that it was "symbolic" that the painting depicting Putin “liquidating” the Russia’s oligarchs kept on falling off its peg on the wall.  

Patriotic Clothing 

In St. Petersburg, a new clothing line dedicated to Putin called "Motherland" is being unveiled. 

The collection, which uses state symbols and the president’s image, was created by designer Aleksei Sergienko and is the third clothing line presented in Russia's second city on Putin's birthday. 

"We didn’t choose this day to present the collection by chance -- the collection uses the image of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to whom my team of designers and I decided to wish happy birthday by dedicating this collection to him and our country," Sergienko said. 

Meanwhile, on the eve of Putin's birthday, the GUM shopping center, on Red Square in Moscow, began selling a new line of winter clothing embossed with heroic images of the Russian president. 

Street Art

Pro-Putin graffiti murals have popped up in seven cities -- Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Sevastopol, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Vladivostok. 

Each mural carries a different one-word caption -- strength, memory, Arctic, sovereignty, history, security and Olympics -- and the first letters of each word spell out the Russian word for "thank you" -- "spasibo." 

The murals were painted by the pro-Putin youth group “Set,” or “Network.”    

"For us, people in their 20s -- the Putin generation -- these words mean a lot. Without these words it is impossible to conceive of a modern Russia returning itself its rightful place in world history,” a statement on the group's website read. 

But not everybody is on board.  Some Russian media have noted that online some have been rearranging the letters so they spell "sosi" -- the Russian word for "suck."   

Musical Tributes

The children's musical group “Khityushki” has prepared a special gift for the Russian president: an unsettling music video posted on YouTube in which a choir of little children sing a “Happy Birthday to Russia’s President.” 

 

The professionally produced music video features dozens of children running through a sunlit glade to hold hands forming a human heart in honor of Putin. The children, who appear to be younger than 10, are also shown cuddling a toy tiger, baking a cake covered in hearts for the president, and wrapping presents for him. 

Chechens On Parade

In the Chechen capital, Grozny, thousands of people marched in honor of Putin. 

Accordng to media reports citing police sources, as many 100,000 Chechens filed down Grozny's Akhmat Kadyrov street.

The rocession comes two days after “Grozny Day” -- which falls on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday -- and was marred by a bombing that killed five police officers.   


Tom Balmforth

Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics.

 

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