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According to some reports, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin hurt himself during an incident at a shooting range on December 29.

An official who warned that the West was "shooting itself in the foot" by imposing sanctions on Russia has, um, shot himself in the foot. Or maybe not.

An aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin denied an Interfax news agency report on December 29 that his boss had wounded his foot during an outing at a shooting range.

Nikita Asimov said Rogozin had suffered a "sports injury" a few days ago while playing handball.

But for Internet users, the denial came too late -- and sounded dubious. One user said on Twitter that the mocking would not stop "unless Rogozin posts a selfie with legs."

Just over a week ago, Rogozin -- who is in charge of Russia's defense industry -- posted a video of himself at a shooting range. In the 30-second clip, he shows off his skills, even shooting two guns at once.

But if Rogozin has worked hard to build up an image as an anti-Western tough guy, the report of a shooting mishap may be a setback.

"The dude can't even shoot and they entrusted him with the defense complex," wrote Russian lawyer and human rights advocate Pavel Chikov.

Twitter users also expressed doubt about the handball story.

"After the incident with Rogozin, Vladimir Putin signed a decree that prohibits government members playing handball with weapons," one joked.

A nationalist and former Russian ambassador to NATO, Rogozin has been a strident critic of the United States and European Union.

In August 2014, Rogozin wrote on Facebook that the West was "shooting itself in the foot" by imposing sanctions against Russia over its seizure of Crimea and its support for separatists fighting against Kyiv's forces in eastern Ukraine.

And he wasn't the first Russian bureaucrat to use the phrase.

Satirical site Lentach made a collage of 13 headlines containing the same phrase. To name just a few:"The U.S. shot itself in the foot trying to ruin Russia's economy," "Having shot down the Su-24, Turkey shot itself in the foot" and "The alliance shot itself in the foot. Russia threatened NATO with strengthening its military presence in Crimea."

One Twitter user joked that Rogozin should win an award for demonstrating how the Russian sanctions against other countries work -- implying that it is Russia that has shot itself in the foot.

And in the tradition of blaming Russia's problems on outside forces, many in the Twittersphere jokingly looked abroad for the culprit behind Rogozin's injury.

One user wrote that it certainly couldn't be Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "You know me, I would shoot him in the back," Erdogan says in a fictitious quote referring to last month's Turkish downing of a Russian jet, which Putin called "a stab in the back."

Some suspected the Russian president himself.

​But another found that, once again, U.S. President Barack Obama is to blame.

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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