Just when you want to get off the Putin-is-ridiculous beat, you get a story like this and you realize: You can never get off the Putin-is-ridiculous beat.
Russian president Vladimir Putin turns 60 on Sunday, and, according to a report in the Russian business daily Vedomosti, there are some downright ludicrous celebrations being planned by his loyal fans. In the northeastern city of Rostov, activists of the United Russia party’s youth league will hang a banner congratulating Putin from the bridge connecting Europe and Asia. (Which is fitting, because it was just last year that Putin announced his intentions to build a Eurasian Union.) Other youth activists will stage poetry readings and pull-up competitions.
In Moscow, there will be an art exhibit dedicated to Putin’s feats: flying with the cranes, being friends with Berlusconi. And, in a particularly touching, North Korean (and perhaps ironic) touch, the exhibit will be called “The President: Most Kind-Hearted Man.”
The city of St. Petersburg, Putin’s birthplace, is holding a concert called “A Musical Compliment” to which tickets will not be sold. Rather they are all reserved for Putin and for various “VIP guests” (a national obsession).
A committee of Putin’s most hardcore fans (“National Committee-60”) has proposed the following hardcore proposals: making 2012 the year of the Putin, renaming the street he was born on in his honor, giving him the title of “Marshall,” and floating “aerodynamic dirigibles” at a height of sixty meters (get it?) above the landmarks of Putin’s St. Peterburg’s life: his home, his school, the local KGB, the Square of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. (The St. Petersburg mayor’s office is still mulling these proposals.)
According to his spokesman, Putin will be sitting this one out. I wish I could say that for the rest of us.