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Tickling Twitter's Funnybone: Putin Can Destroy NATO With What?

Despite the Twitter ridicule, Dmitry Kiselyov remains one of Russia's most popular pundits.
Despite the Twitter ridicule, Dmitry Kiselyov remains one of Russia's most popular pundits.

MOSCOW -- Call it the headline that launched a thousand tweets.

For the February 1 broadcast of his program Vesti Nedeli, the bombastic television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov used the title: Putin Can Destroy NATO With A Single Phone Call. It was pretty standard fare for the viscerally anti-Western Kiselyov, who once said on-air that Russia could reduce the United States to "radioactive ash."

Soon after the program aired, the headline on Vesti Nedeli's website was changed to the blander: The New Budget Will Be Ratified On April 1.

But the change wasn't enough to stop the online ridicule, which came fast and furious.

The satirical news feed Lentach tweeted:

“Vesti.Ru has deleted the title ‘Putin Can Destroy NATO With A Single Phone Call.’ What’s the problem, can’t he?”

Another Twitter user, Vyazanyi Tvitter, was particularly active. One of his tweets quipped:

“Putin couldn’t destroy NATO because they didn’t pick up the phone where he called.”

Vyazanyi Tvitter also wondered about the dangers of using a telephone as a weapon, tweeting:

"Since he destroyed NATO with a phone call, Putin accidentally fired off an SMS to the UN Security Council."

And another showed a smiling blonde woman speaking on a old-style payphone saying: "Hello, NATO? Now you're dead!"

Another Twitter user -- eto Sasha -- used a different variation on the meme:

-- Hello, you’re destroyed.
-- What?
-- Is this NATO?
-- No.
-- Damn, I got the wrong number.

The blogger Doctor Gilotyev tweeted a photo of Putin showing off his new phone to Chinese President Xi Jingping.

“Look, you just press here -- bam, no more NATO," the caption reads.

Opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny also got into the act, suggesting it would be better if Putin could solve Russia's domestic problems -- like poor public transportation.

“Vesti.Ru says Putin can destroy NATO with a single phone call. But can he bring back the suburban trains to Pskov Oblast?" Navalny tweeted.

And a Twitter user called Sheiker posted a picture of two Kremlin telephones. A red one is marked “Alinochka" -- an apparent reference to gymnast Alina Kabayeva, who is widely believed to be romantically involved with Putin. And a white phone is marked "Destroy NATO."

The caption on the tweet reads: "The D**khead's Desk."

And Usy Peskova wondered whether it is safe to pick up the phone anymore:

"My phone just rang, but I didn’t pick up in case it’s him!" read the tweet.

Despite the Twitter ridicule, Kiselyov remains one of Russia's most popular pundits.

A poll by the state-controlled VTsIOM in March identified him as the second “most-authoritative” journalist in Russia after Vladimir Solovyov, a presenter on Russia’s Rossiya 1.

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