Thursday, August 28, 2014


Help Spot The References: Viral Video Mocks Putin Era

A haunting animated time-lapse video by Russian artist/activist Egor Zhgun caught our attention this morning.

"12 Years In 2 Minutes" is a withering indictment of the Putin era in which a hunched character resembling Vladimir Putin gradually morphs into a pharaonic Mr. Burns (from "The Simpsons") as references pile up next to him of perceived excesses and blunders of the past dozen years.

Zhgun is no stranger to Putin detractors. His "Grandpa With The Condom Tattoo" borrowed imagery from the Stieg Larsson blockbuster "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" to poke fun at Putin and earn him a spot on our Tangled Web blog's recent rundown of "Russia's New Viral Dissident Art."

The video credits Noah Kalina and "The Simpsons" for the concept and Carly Comando for the apocalyptic music that seems intended to drive home the notion of choreographed precision that looks set to continue after this weekend's presidential election, which even the opposition expects Putin to win by a landslide.

Zhgun's video is a wonder to behold, chock full of sardonic imagery that is as frightening as it is funny.

Here's a partial list of what transpires, provided by colleague Pavel Butorin (@RusPoliceWatch), who has @MiriamElder to thank for spotting the video:

  • Boris Yeltsin ushers in an almost childlike, doe-eyed Putin
  • Putin transforms into a tsar and assumes Mr. Burns' "Excellent" posture; an oil bucket hangs on the wall
  • then-independent NTV reports the "Kursk" submarine tragedy
  • Putin goes on "Larry King Live," responds contritely, "It sank"
  • Kremlin takes over NTV
  • televised coverage of the "Nord Ost" hostage crisis; a "Wanted" poster appears of Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev
  • the TV is boarded up and shackled
  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky emerges as a supporter of socialist and liberal ideas; Putin disapproves and a "Wanted" poster displays the Yukos billionaire; Khodorkovsky lands behind bars with a blood-stained knife in his hand
  • Chechnya's pro-Kremlin leader Akhmad Kadyrov is assassinated; son Ramzan shows up wearing a track suit and Muslim headwear, kneels before Putin, departs holding a bag
  • a rescue plan for Beslan school is signed by Putin, who then appears before a backdrop of children dressed like Kenny, the "South Park" character who has died a thousand deaths
  • Kadyrov picks up another bag of cash as the head of Basayev appears on the desk
  • a beheaded beast of terrorism in a "Wanted" poster sprouts three heads instead of one
  • a plaque from the Munich security conference, where Putin delivered a speech that spawned talk of a new Cold War, appears on the wall
  • Putin raises Medvedev from infancy
  • &Russia wins the Sochi Olympics bid
  • the slogan "Putin Clan -- Victory of Russia" appears on the wall
  • "Time" magazine portrays Putin as a devil; the picture rests comfortably over Putin's shoulder
  • Medvedev sheds his suit to display a Superman-like outfit, is crowned tsar; he plays with an iPad
  • the fledgling opposition appears as a blue bird in a cage
  • photos of Putin swimming and saving animals cover the aging poster of the three-headed terror monster
  • the blue bird in the cage swells into an "Angry Bird"
  • Medvedev plays with a toy police car, renaming militsia "police" with a "modernization" robot toy
  • Moscow is briefly shrouded in forest fire smog; Mayor Yury Luzhkov brings Putin a lollypop, but Putin takes away the influential Muscovite's famous hat, gives it to Medvedev
  • Medvedev gets an alarm clock, abolishes daylight savings time
  • United Russia party hands Putin a parliamentary election; Medvedev gets a hamster (parliament) that keels over on its wheel
  • Putin's face swells from Botox injections
  • the blue bird breaks out of its cage
  • Medvedev is a baby with a pacifier again, playing volleyball with Putin
  • Putin is again crowned tsar after a fade to black; all of Medvedev's reforms are ditched into a recycle bin
  • another fade to black; the oil bucket disappears; the wall and desk are mostly empty, except the same portrait of Putin as a young man; Putin boasts a Qaddafi-style hat, hairstyle, and sunglasses
  • Putin looks like a mummified pharaoh with an IV in his arm

Can you spot any symbolism that we've missed?

-- Andy Heil
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Xavier from: Brussels
March 02, 2012 14:30
There's also the "0 Augusts without incidents" referring to the war in Georgia.

And the last image, of Putin as a Pharaoh, is, I think, referring to Hosni Mubarak (nicknamed the Pharaoh, who was very sick during his trial). Those two last images (Putin as Gaddafi and Mubarak) must show the hope of the opposition of having a Russian spring.
In Response

by: Robert from: Prague
March 02, 2012 16:22
The August without incidents bit refers not only to the 2008 war with Georgia, but the 2000 sinking of the Kursk, the 2009 Sayano-Shushenskaya dam explosion. Russia's unlucky Augusts go back even further to the 1998 default, the 1991 coup attempt against Gorbachev and so on...
In Response

by: Merops Apiaster
March 03, 2012 00:12
Not just the war in Georgia.
In Response

by: Andy H from: Prague
March 03, 2012 10:04
This is becoming an impressive list. I'll go back now and watch again with even more references to key in on. Thanks, all of you, for sharing.
In Response

by: Pat S.
March 07, 2012 15:43
When the United Russia bears come to Putin bearing (heh) gifts, they are portrayed as the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys--one covers his eyes, another his ears, and the last his mouth.
In Response

by: Yaroslav from: Chicago/Novosibirsk
March 03, 2012 16:14
The Munich Conference is actually labeled 'Münchhausen' Conference referring to a popular finctional character, Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Münchhausen (or simply, Baron Münchhausen), an 18th c. German nobleman who joined the Russian army and participated in a number of Russian military campaigns against the Turks. Upon his return to Germany, Baron Münchhausen told a number of unbelieveble, ridiculously far-fetched stories about his adventures in Russia and during the Russian war campaigns (e.g, he claimed having ridden a Russian cannon ball to make aerial reconnaissance of a Turkish fort and, after he had seen enough, having jumped mid-air onto a Turkish cannon ball to hitch a ride back; or having saved himself and his horse from drowning in a swamp by pulling himself by the hair up into the air). Loved that book as a child! Every Russian will recongnize the reference.
In Response

by: Andrew Lama from: New Jersey
March 04, 2012 06:51
I too believe that the mummy was Mubarak. He had a faint resemblance of him and as you pointed out Mubarak is currently on IV as the clip portrays. It could all be hinting towards the Arab Spring spreading to Russia....if this is so I don't understand why the artist wouldn't include President Saleh of Yemen or at least President Ben Ali of Tunisia.

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
March 02, 2012 16:55
The hamster in the cage at 1:22 represents the nickname for bloggers, "Internet hamsters."

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
March 02, 2012 16:57
Unfortunately, the hamster, carrying a Russian flag, keels over and dies after about five seconds, when the Angry bird or Twitter bird breaks out of its cage.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 02, 2012 18:41
A graphic presentation of the evolution of public support for different candidates in the upcoming presidential election:
Putin: 63-66 %
Zyuganov (Communist Party): 15-23 %
Zhirinovsky ("Lib-Dem"): 8-12 %
Prokhorov (an oligarkh): 3-6 %

by: Alex from: LA
March 02, 2012 21:32
This was fun, now do one about our US Foreign policy and Republican Party and Bush's 8 years of screwing the world.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 03, 2012 18:11
"8 years of Bush's screwing the world" :-)). You probably meant to say "8 years in which (a) the Taliban killed several thousand gringo soldiers in Afghanistan; (b) the gringos removed Saddam Hussein and therewith reinfred the Iran's position in Irak; (c) N. Korea has acquired nuclear weapons, while the gringos were just sitting around with stupid faces and had no idea what to do about it; (d) the gringos have been arming Georgia for 5 years, just to see how Putin kicked their friend Misha's ... in 5 day". Yeah, tell us this one, it sounds really funny, gringo .-)).

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
March 03, 2012 01:56
Fitting tribute. At the :53 second mark you have the death of A. Politkovskaya on Putin's birthday (7 Oct 2006).

by: Peter
March 03, 2012 14:06
The vine coming out of the oil barrel seems to track Russia's economic growth -- turning the corner when Putin comes to power (after a big fall in the 1990s), going up for most of the 2000s, and then dropping in 2008 before recovering.

by: Al from: Moscow
March 03, 2012 20:41
The writing on the green bottle at 0:37 says Tarkhun Finans Grupp. This seems to be a reference to Baikalfinansgrup and the Yukos Affair (see Tarkhun and Baikal are both names of soft drinks in Russia.

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