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Laughing at Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov gets an awkward role in Oliver Stone's new film, and it doesn't go unnoticed by Russian Internet users
About 43 minutes into the first episode of Showtime's controversial new documentary series “The Putin Interviews,” filmmaker Oliver Stone boards the “presidential jet” for a mid-air interview with Vladimir Putin. As the president talks to Stone about the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR, the camera cuts to a wide shot of Putin seated at a long, glossy table, flanked by Stone and an interpreter. There's also another man to the side, uncomfortably holding a boom microphone over his shoulders, doing his best to record Putin's comments for the film, which lingers for a moment on the awkward scene. This man is Dmitry Peskov, the president's press secretary and for years the public face of the Kremlin. The image of Peskov performing the menial task for Stone's interview with Putin has been a source of enormous entertainment in Russia, where Internet users wasted no time sharing edited versions of the scene. Readers of the satirical news community Lentach contributed an especially prodigious number of Peskov-boom-mic memes. Meduza collected some of the very best.
If you're a regular Russian TV news viewer, you'll likely recognize the puppets on Peskov's hands: Dmitry Kiselyov, the general director of the state-owned Rossiya Segodnya news agency and perhaps the most prominent political pundit on network television. Critics often call Kiselyov “the Kremlin's chief propagandist.”
This joke harkens back to a holiday celebration in Stavropol in February 2015, when the city's Maslenitsa (“Pancake Week”) festivities included a single enormous pancake. In a spectacle that many Russian Internet users thought was rather strange, if not entirely sanitary, the festival's cooks used shovels to serve pieces of the giant pancake to the crowd.
In September 2016, Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation published a report about a mansion frequented by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the summers. The facility is so lavish that it apparently contains a special outdoor house meant exclusively for the ducks living near the pond on the property. At anti-corruption protests in March and June 2017, rubber ducks became a symbol of criticism against Medvedev.
The following meme, “Barechested Putin Riding Things,” requires no further introduction.
Western pop culture
Most Russians will defend until their dying breath the prized works of their country's writers and artists, but Russians are also amazingly fluent in Western pop culture, as demonstrated by the following three jokes.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
AMC's The Walking Dead: “The Day Will Come When You Won't Be” (2016)
And it wouldn't be an Internet meme without some indecency, and yes indeed several of the mashups mocking Peskov have gone down this road.
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