The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment

Uncle Volodya says,”There is a huge difference between journalism and advertising. Journalism aspires to truth. Advertising is regulated for truth. I’ll put the accuracy of the average ad in this country up against the average news story any time.”

Paradoxically, I’m always glad when Miriam Elder puts out another piece for Global Post or The Guardian; it’s a bittersweet kind of thing, because on the one hand, it’s always such a venomous, catty piece of trash. But on the other, it offers me such enjoyable opportunities to contrast her breathless confidences and giggly rubbish with the real world.

The Guardian, as many know already, is turning into something beyond embarrassment in journalistic circles. It apparently doesn’t bother to research anything, and also employs serial paint-chip-eater and plagiarist Luke Harding, as if one gluebagging Russophobe were not enough. It obviously is in business solely to sell newspapers, and if it has to turn into something like a comic book for adults in order to achieve that goal, so be it, by God. Suffice it to say that just when you think the profession of journalism cannot get any more maudlin, dozy, lazy or mendacious, the Brits will surprise you. And The Guardian is the kind of paper Brits like to pretend is printed somewhere else. Like Burundi, or Côte d’Ivoire.

Ms. Elder is always at her lyrical best when her subject is Vladimir Putin; a shiver of loathing seems to ripple through her whenever she sees his picture or hears his name, and she is compelled by inner demons to write something spiteful. Consider, for example, this past Thursday’s piece announcing Mr. Putin’s upcoming birthday, this weekend. Entitled, “Lavish Celebrations Planned for Vladimir Putin’s 60th Birthday” (thanks to Jon Hellevig for the link), it promises binge-shopping-expensive events that are apparently being extorted from a country that doesn’t really care much for him, but is too weak from his endless crackdowns to protest beyond a quavering exhalation as it gives up its last ruble for the Great Dictator’s Neroesque bacchanalia.

I just know we’re going to run into controversy over the meaning of the term “lavish”, so let’s get Webster in our corner before we go any further. According to Merriam-Webster, in the context and grammar Ms. Elder is using it, “lavish” means “marked by profusion or excess”; synonyms are exorbitant, extravagant, extreme, immoderate and excessive. Pay attention, because you’re going to be seeing those again.

Ready? Let’s take a look.

Right away, we learn that Mr. Putin is a man who has everything. He has been presented on previous birthdays with tiger cubs and sexy calendars featuring scantily-clad women. The latter was a project by extremely attractive journalism students of Moscow State University, although extremely attractive young women in Russia are the rule rather than the exception. I should just like to mention the western press had kittens over that, although none of the women was even close to nude and the calendar was their idea – they were not exploited. But almost immediately – because use of “Putin” and “joke” in the same sentence is not permitted unless the sentence is “Putin is a joke” – a “protest calendar” was rushed out which also featured attractive women; however, all were completely and severely dressed, and wore an “x” of tape across their mouths, suggestive of forced silence. The lighthearted captions were gone, replaced with weighty liberal favourites like “When will you free Khodorkovsky?” and “When will the next terrorist attack be?” and “Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?”. There was a difference in these calendars beyond the amount of bare skin on show – one was made without prompting by political forces. Can you guess which one it was? I might add the second calendar was very well-received by the British hypostocracy, where bare tits in the news are as common as breakfast cereal and are regularly featured alongside it in the morning paper.

Mr. Putin celebrated previous birthdays with his old friends Gerhard Schroeder and Silvio Berlusconi, we hear, the latter a virtual poster-boy for corruption who wears a custom wristwatch that cost over a half-million dollars. This is evidently a disdainfully sniffing, you-are-judged-by-the-company-you-keep sort of comment that is meant to suggest Mr. Putin fits well in a threesome of the corrupt.

That so? I have to feel a bit sorry for Silvio Berlusconi, because he didn’t seem to grasp how toxic his friendship was, but he was nonetheless a great friend also to western democratic boasters Tony Blair – who he endorsed for EU President – and George W. Bush. Time Magazine described him, in 2008, as Bush’s last best friend. I guess that means Bush and Blair were corrupt, too. Who knew? Well, in Bush’s case, quite a few people knew – while we’re talking about birthdays, how did George W. Bush spend his 60th birthday? At a private, invited-guests-only dinner party at the Chicago Firehouse restaurant, with his good buddy, Chicago mayor Richard Daley. At the President’s specific request. That was a big day. While the President and his good buddy, Mayor Daley, were chowing down at the Chicago Firehouse, four of Mayor Daley’s top aides were convicted in federal court….of corruption. Well, well; imagine that. Oh, and four American soldiers were killed in Iraq, where President Bush told them they had a job to do that still wasn’t finished. For them, it would stay unfinished forever. The oldest of them was 22.

Sorry about that. Something just comes over me when American journalists working for British tabloids draw snarky parallels about how corrupt you are because other people you know are corrupt. Let’s move on.

Well, if we needed anything to lighten the mood, here’s the suggestion that Putin’s rule as President “faces an unprecedented challenge…from tens of thousands of opposition protesters”. Is this challenge unprecedented, really? Did more than tens of thousands vote for someone other than Putin in the Presidential election? They certainly did. He still won easily. There are more than 13 million people in Moscow alone, and “tens of thousands” is about as much of a threat as….as….well, I can’t even think of a comparison, but it’s not very challenging. But thanks all the same for that sad little bit of comedy.

Banners celebrating Putin will be hung on a bridge in Rostov, we hear. Ooooo…lavish. I would almost have to say excessive, and the poor citizens of Rostov will likely see their taxes doubled next year when the bill for that disgusting extravagance comes due. Of course we’re going to contrast that with something, and I’m kind of partial to the subject of George W. Bush’s birthdays, because they are truly the gift that keeps on giving. How did he spend his birthday the second year he was in office? By flying his entire family – brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, right down to Barney the Presidential Scottie – at taxpayers’ expense aboard Air Force One to the 6-acre family summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of only 6 sites in the USA over which aircraft are forbidden to fly. I’m afraid that sounds immoderate to me, to say nothing of lavish. If you were wondering how much it costs to operate Air Force One, it’s just a hair under $180,000.00 per hour. Average flight time to Portland, Maine from Washington, DC, 68 minutes. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the cost of some Happy Birthday Mr. President banners, bridge size, would run you quite a bit less than that.

A poetry reading will be held on Arbat, in honour of Mr. Putin’s birthday. Will it be more prestigious – lavish and extreme, even – than bringing top-ranked golf pros Phil Mickelson, Fred Funk, Justin Leonard, Jeff Maggert and Brad Faxon to the White House for a birthday bash? I daresay not, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Oh, this is my favourite part. Children from “at least one school” (that means “one” when you want to imply there are many, many more that have passed below the radar) have been “tasked” with coming up with 100 pictures of The Dear Leader, in tribute to his birthday. Yes, the children of Taganrog will not be going home until the pictures are complete, as they colour until their little fingers bleed under the soulless gaze of mirrored sunglasses worn by pitiless FSB agents. According to “documents leaked on the internet”.

Really; is there any need of anything as silly as this? The suggestion the “documents” were “leaked” makes it appear they were something horrible that was being kept a secret until some decent soul exposed them to Ms. Elder’s unflinching gaze. Meanwhile, reporting that the children were “tasked” makes it appear involuntary and forced, even though it was no more so than a math assignment.

But if we need to continue providing a counter-argument, fine; let’s roll. In 2006, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, 100 children assembled from the Gulf Coast States (according to leaked documents found by Google) were waterboarded by the CIA until they sang a song of praise to President George W. Bush, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the sterling services rendered by the three to their states, which were pounded to shit by Hurricane Katrina. According to the song, “Our country’s stood beside us/ People have sent us aid./ Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade./ Congress, Bush and FEMA/ People across our land/ Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!” According to What Really Happened, the response by all three to what sources call the most devastating natural disaster in American history could not have been more fucked up if Pee-Wee Herman was in charge and he sent the Minnesota Quilters to handle it.

Let’s take a hop across the pond (not on Air Force One, though; we can’t afford that kind of gas bill) to Merrie England, where somebody else had a celebration; Tony Blair’s 11-year-old son, Leo. The Blairs hosted an end-of-term party at their £6 Million country home – but then charged all the children who attended £10.00 apiece to ride a bus up to the door, for security reasons. That’s kind of refreshing, really – none of that draw-me-a-picture or sing-me-a-song stuff, just show me the money. One can only imagine the shriek of horror were Putin to pull either stunt. In fact, on the occasion that children sang a song to current President Barack Obama, Republican National Committee Chairman (at the time) Michael Steele called it “the type of propaganda you would see in Stalin’s Russia or Kim Jong Il’s North Korea. I never thought the day would come when I’d see it here in America.”

There’s much more foolishness in the same vein, such as Putin’s giving a poolside interview to a “giddy” (presumably – but not necessarily – female) interviewer while Putin was in the pool. He was, we are told, “bare-chested” – highly unusual for a man in a swimming pool, where most men wear a dinner jacket, snort, snort – and wearing “small black swimming trunks”, which Ms. Elder apparently scoped with her X-Ray vision as he was up to his armpits in water.

Much is made in this article of the significance of Mr. Putin’s 60th birthday, the age when Russian men are pensionable. I wouldn’t put too much stock in that; Mr. Putin is in good physical shape and does not appear to be much of a drinker, or smoke. Unless stress blows up his ticker, it looks like there’s a lot of life left in him yet. He can draw on inspirational examples like Winnifred Pristell, a 70-year-old great-grandmother who is also a powerlifter, a current world-record holder who can bench-press 176.2 pounds and deadlift 270. Or Jennifer Figge, who swam the Atlantic at 56. Meanwhile, if you feel like making fools of yourselves by holding “flash mobs” carrying eyeglasses and carpet slippers, be my guest. Just don’t act surprised when your party polls less than 5%, as if Russians didn’t know what they were missing by not electing such a bright bunch. As Moscow Exile points out in a comment to the last post – it’s the same old message, which just gets shouted louder the more often it’s contradicted.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Happy Birthday to you.

This entry was posted in Government, Khodorkovsky, Politics, Russia, Stalin, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

762 Responses to The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment

  1. Moscow Exile says:

    Judging by the pictures that are coming on line from Trubnaya Square, I get the feeling that there is a distinct absence there of the upwardly mobile, pampered young members of the bourgeoisie, the “creative” types and other associated freaks that have been present at similar events in the past. In fact, they all look decidedly long in the tooth and trapped in the past. “Courts and Police Under the Control of the Workers!” says one placard.

    I bet they still address each other as tovarishch.


  2. Moscow Exile says:

    According to this report, no more than 300 at Trubnaya:

    The Western press constantly reports that people such as these “send a clear message” to Putin of the nation’s dissatisfaction with his “regime”. And the same press also reports that Putin quakes in fear before these masses of opponents.

    • Leos Tomicek says:

      I am willing to bet that Putin has not even heard about this protest, like the vast majority of Muscovites. 😉

      • As I said before, the charges against Udaltsov are the end of the protest movement. The other protest leaders were unwise enough to cede him leadership and he has now been exposed as taking money from a foreign government with whose representative he was caught plotting terrorism and armed insurrection. To top it all everybody now knows that he announced the protest on 20th October 2012 on instructions from Targamadze. Why would anybody with sense want to attend such a rally with such a man.

        As for the elections to the Council they were always a nonsensical idea.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Alexander: I agree that Udaltsov’s probable arrest (and the arrests of his 2 co-conspirators) will sound the death-knell of the current Opps movement. To understand the Opps POV (and I think I do, to a certain degree, because I read their blogs), they believe that it is IMPOSSIBLE to form a regular parliamentary Opposition in Russia, due to the fact that all elections are essentially rigged (in their opinion). Therefore, it follows from this, that the only way of changing the government is by non-parliamentary means, i.e., street demonstrations. They see things backwards: instead of (1) have elections, (2) run for office, (3) come to power, the believe it is necessary to proceed in the following order: (1) come to power, (2) institute fair elections, (3) run for office. In order to accomplish this goal of coming to power outside of the regular process, they have formed this “mass movement” called “Movement for Fair Elections”.
          Now it goes without saying that this leaves Opps very vulnerable to the charge that they were themselves just a bunch of usurpers (“samozvantsy”) declaring themselves the power when they had no power. On a more realistic level, Opps were constantly bickering among themselves as to who got to speak from the tribune during street demonstrations. For example, why did Nemtsov always get to orate a speech when nobody else liked him? Who elected HIM?
          Flowing from this practical problem, a small core of the Opps leaders (Navalny and others) came up with this idea of holding “elections to the Coordinating Committee” of the Opposition. The purpose is to give this leadership “Committee” legitimacy to actually call themselves a leadership and make decisions on behalf of the masses; and organize the tactics of future street demonstrations. Since the elections could not be held in the real world, they were held in the virtual world of the internet, where people like Navalny reign. (As a computer programmer, I add that internet elections ARE in fact possible and plausible to carry out in a fair manner, but need to be handled by competent technicians, which is clearly not the case with these particular elections.)
          So, anyhow, this “Coordinating Committee” will be like the Politburo of the Communist Party, except that the movement itself is not a political party, it is a “popular front” of all anti-Putin elements, ranging from oligarchs to communists (and everything in between).
          Given that Udaltsov had the most numbers in the game and formed the backbone of the street protests, it is impossible for the rest of the movement to denounce him or dissociate from him. If the peaceful wing of the movement WERE to formally dissociate themselves from Udaltsov, then they could survive politically. But they still wouldn’t get any votes among the real electorate. Therefore, they are all stuck with each other. Reminds me of that old movie where a chain gang are all linked together, and when one falls into the river, they all drown.

      • Misha says:


        Example of how a limited Q & A can raise valid points, which upon follow-up elsewhere (in this case the West) can get spun in a direction that’s different from what the person interviewed prefers.

        From an analytically public relations perspective, put yourself in the hypothetical position of Lukashenko and answer the posed questions in a way that simultaneously considers the foreign audience, while not sacrificing the gist of Lukashenko’s personal impression of Assad and neolib/neocon influenced foreign policy.

        That segment touches on the periodically brought up thought that a good number of Russians (in and outside government) have limits on caring how many folks in the West are likely to view their presentation of views. Conversely, there’s the arrogant ignorance coming from many in the West, who’re overly reliant on English language mass media/English language mass media influenced spin.

        I don’t agree with the suggestion of one of the commenters who believes that the Kremlin pre-approves what Lukashenko says.

        • Misha says:

          Upon another glance, I’ll revise a bit by noting that it isn’t the comparative PR disaster (with the Western audience in mind) as the RFE/RL link (linked above by yours truly) which discusses some other comments by Luka.

          On Assad, an alternative could’ve been along the lines of stessing: my impressions are….

          Afterall, how well can you personally judge a person under limited conditrions?

          Life has taught me that some of the more eanest of folks don’t initially come off as well as some shysters who know just what to say (for immediate impression sake) in given situations.

          I’ll leave it at that.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Udaltsov announces that the next “March of Millions” is to be in December.

    Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be participating.

    Today’s meeting at Trubnaya Square finally peaked at 1,000 attending. Udaltsov is now pushing for a new angle of protest – against those imprisoned after the March 6th disturbances. Apparently, he thinks one shouldn’t be arrested, charged and held on remand until one’s trial for orchestrating and/or participting in large scale civil disorder.

    Video embedded in article linked below:

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    They say 1,000 attended but they must mean that 1,000 came to register for the true, democratically elected government in waiting (and maybe soon to be in exile), which wizard wheeze Navalny and, no doubt, McFaul and his Washington chums have dreamed up. Judging by the paucity in numbers as seeen in the video embedded in the above linked Komsomolskaya Pravda article, they came, registered and went home – possibly because there was no speechifying going on.

    This must the first meeting this year where Udaltsov has not urged oppositionists to stay on beyond the alloted time of the meeting and to “occupy” the territory on which the gathering has taken place. Perhaps looking at the age of the majority that seem to have turned up, he might have thought it would have been a waste of time to take out his usually ever present bull horn and urge them all to the barricades.

    • kirill says:

      The western media just has to add a zero at the end of the figure like it did before. Truth is what the MSM decrees it to be. Of course Udaltsov wants disturbances to lend weight to these joke protests. Since every media consumer lemming “knows” that something is “seriously” wrong if people are “violent”.

      The clearest metric on how serious things are in Russia is the scale of attendance at these rallies. Udaltsov and the participation of Stalinists at the rallies since last December indicate that the liberast path has totally failed and now the foreign organizers of this demonstrations are hoping to latch onto a strain of socialist discontent in Russia. But the clowns have missed the boat. They should have backed the commies around 1999. Since then the support base has atrophied thanks to economic growth.

  5. yalensis says:

    More on Opps “elections”. Navalny is still blaming Putin for the technical failures that occurred yesterday (server crashing, etc.) I’m not sure that’s fair. I myself work in a reputable and large IT shop, and our servers are always crashing too, even without Putin’s sabotage.
    Anyway, Opps “elections” have been extended one more day so that all the hamsters can vote. Navalny stresses very earnestly that people should study the candidates, listen to the debates, vote for the slate of their choice, keeping in mind that these “candidates” and leaders-to-be will henceforth be speaking in their name (like, at future street actions, and will also have the authority to order the mob to storm the Kremlin, for example).
    This all sounds wonderful… except for the fact that the process is rigged. Navalny himself addresses the thorny issue of the “quotas” or “curias” that he and his friends decided on:
    Отдельно скажу про квоты (левые, либералы, националисты) или, как их ещё называют “курии”.
    Введение квот было неочевидным компромиссом в пользу коалиционности, они очень многих раздражают. Тем не менее, они уже есть и кандидаты по ним будут избраны.
    В этом смысле, позиция “ни одного голоса куриям” – дурацкая и играет только на руку “идеологическим сектантам”, желающим провести только своих.
    Всё равно от каждой квоты будет избрано 5 человек. Если вам в принципе не нравятся все, кто идёт по квоте, то просто вышибайте тех, кто не нравится больше всего.
    Голосуйте за тех “квотников”, кто проделал наибольший политический прогресс в последнее время, кто вёл кампанию, кто способен работать с остальными без идеологического догматизма и ада.

    “Let me speak separately about the quotas (Lefts, Liberals, Nationalists), also called curias.
    Introduction of these quotas was a necessary compromise in light of the coalition-like nature (of the movement]. [yalensis: In other words, it’s a super-rotten Popular Front]. In light of this, the slogan, ‘not one vote for the curias’ is stupid and only plays into the hands of the ideological sectarians…” (etc.)
    Okay, everybody raise your hands, who would buy a used car from Navalny, aka [KirovLes=SelVorik]?

  6. yalensis says:

    And here is another very interesting article on these internet “elections”:

    By the way, my earlier remark about would-be voters forced to pay an entry-fee of 10,000 rubles was incorrect, I apologize for that. The 10,000 rubles is the fee for a would-be leadership CANDIDATE. (I only just now “got” that.)
    A simple voter had to pay a much lower fee, in fact any amount, the token amount being for the purpose of authenticating oneself via Yandex or other online banking system.
    One could also register without a fee by providing a passport photo ID.
    Even so, many people lost money, however small the amounts, in attempting fruitlessly to authenticate their identity. There are obviously many technical glitches. Internet voting cannot truly become a reality (even in countries with a small population) without a better technical infrastructure and network administrators who actually know what they are doing.
    Author of above piece shows screenshots showing his ordeal in attempting to register.
    In summary, only 80,500 people ended up with an authenticated “right to vote” (out of 165,000 total registrations). This gives a fairly accurate number for the level of support enjoyed by the Opps movement. Around 80K people throughout Russia. Maybe more, if you count the technologically illiterate. It’s not a lot, but it’s certainly enough to keep stirring things up.
    I predict that Americans (especially if Romney is eleted) will recognize this new “Coordinating Committee” as the true, legitimate government of Russia, and start to funnel money and weapons to them.

    • R.C. says:

      Oh, I don’t think the west will go as far as funneling weapons to opposition leaders. Just the notion of recognizing a group of 80,000 registered “voters” in a country of 140 million would be completely stupid as it would accomplish nothing. Hell, even the BBC was falling over itself attempting to “spin” the dismal turnout for this opposition “election.” Russia isn’t Syria. I don’t think the Russian government will tolerate such a direct destabilization of their country in cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, especially when you consider that they’re finally beginning to reign in the NGO’s. Overt terrorism is a different thing entriely. If a hypothetical Romney administration is that stupid and unhinged from reality, then god help us all – meaning, they’d better be prepared for the potential fallout which could very possibly include a catastrophic nuclear confrontation.

      • I agree partly with RC and partly with Yalensis. I think 80,000 is about right as the total strength of the white ribbon opposition. However I think even the most fanatical opponent of Putin in the US understands that this is far too small a number to give the Coordinating Council legitimacy. Even if the inspiration was the Council in Benghazi I cannot imagine anyone in the west is so mad as to recognise it as Russia’s government.

        However I am afraid that if a terrorist movement were to emerge in Russia there are some people in the west who are reckless enough to provide it with arms, not directly but through proxies for example amongst anti Russian extremists in the Baltic States, who seem capable of anything. After all it’s widely accepted that the jihadi insurgents in the Caucasus were getting help through Georgia – the talks between Udaltsov and Targamadze show the extent to which this was until recently still going on – and this would hardly have been possible without some degree of western acquiescence. Indeed what after all were the Udaltsov Targamadze discussions if not talks about getting a terrorist campaign underway. As I have argued previously if a terrorist movement did take shape in Russia the west would blame the Russian government for it and there would certainly be support for it whilst without unequivocal proof of western arms and other support to the terrorists Russian complaints of such western arms and support would be airily dismissed as paranoia.

        The one thing I would say is that the effect of terrorist movements is that they tend to strengthen the governments against which they are directed. That certainly was the effect in Germany when it experienced terrorism that grew out of a protest movement in the 1970s. I mention Germany as it seems the closest parallel to Russia today. I would add that it is now known that the main German terrorist group, the Red Army Faction, is now known to have received help from the East German Stasi unknown to the USSR where Brezhnev and Andropov – who was then the KGB chairman – implacably opposed terrorism in any form. Anyway the effect of the RAF’s terrorist campaign, as even its members began to realise, was to make the West German government stronger not weaker.

        I fully expect the same to be in Russia should a terrorist movement ever happen there. Not only would Russian terrorists be breaching what seems to be a very powerful taboo against Russians killing each other for political reasons, which would guarantee them a total loss of popular support and a rally behind the government, but they would also be up against security agencies that have been brought to a very high level of efficiency by the need to fight the Caucasian jihadi war. The only thing that would briefly work in their favour is that after the experience of the 1980s and 1990s and because of the unrelenting liberal propaganda cynicism towards authority in Russia is exceptionally high. The result is that the inevitable liberal claims that the terrorists were government provocateurs might initially be believed by some people. I doubt however that most people would believe it and when it became clear this was not the case – as it quickly would – the rally behind the government and the collapse of opposition to it which I discussed would immediately take place.

        • marknesop says:

          These are all great comments, and I hope everyone will save a few of them for the post on the subject that just went up. Don’t exhaust yourselves!!

        • R.C. says:

          Thanks for your response Alex.

          I agree that it would most certainly be done through proxies in a manner that does not directly implicate the west for supporting such a movement. As I stated, they are aware that Russia is not Syria and that there’s FAR too much at stake if they’re caught red-handed arming extremists carrying out brazen attacks in Moscow. If it turns out that any part of the opposition has a hand in it, it would be the end of that movement in Russia. This scheme would ultimately have the opposite effect that Washington intended. It does still carry risks, but as you stated, any evidence that the Russian government brings forth will be dismissed as paranoia, regardless if it’s true or not.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Perhaps Udaltsov is hinting at the possibility of urban guerrilla style terrorist actions when he keeps stating in public his message to Putin: “Now is the time to build bridges before it is too late”?

          Is that a threat?

          Too late to prevent what from happening?

          Is he threatening this: “[W]e may see the new “Primorsky Partisans” who will start to kill United Russia deputies”?

          That’s what he said at Trubnaya Square:

  7. Moscow Exile says:

    Now if I were so desperately in search of a revolution as is Sergei Udaltsov, then this is the kind of news that I would exploit in order whip up the fury of the mob:


  8. Moscow Exile says:

    Just take a look at this for the latest Moscow Times crap:

    And the MT journalist thinks “Putin” is the prime minister of Russia.

    The vehicle is the presidential car.

    The presidential car does not belong to “Putin”: it belongs to the state.

    And it’s “President Putin” – no mister or Herr or monsieur or signor in Russia: to be formal, the president of Russia is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of Russia. Referring to a man using only his surname is disrespectful: that’s how you talk to or of criminals, other ranks in the army and servants.

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