Cranes Fly over the Cuckoo Nest

14 September 2012

By Tatyana Shamsova

The hardships of a presidency through the camera's eye: Putin hugging a tiger, a horse, a bear; Putin with his dog, without his dog, riding, swimming, jumping; Putin’s ageless naked masculine torso; Putin's reserved, manly, self-disciplined smile; Putin, appearing from the sea's depths with ancient vases; Putin working day and night like a galley slave for twelve years in a desperate effort to raise his subjects from their knees, involuntarily succeeding only in obtaining enormous personal wealth, and... the final snapshot: Putin all in white piloting a hang-glider leading a flock of cranes raised in captivity to a life in the wilderness.

The lonely, sad and pure flight of the Russian president.

What a symbolic picture of spiritual authority, leading his congregation to freedom.

Below him are ugly devilish witches dancing in the sacred heart of Russia, outraging the feelings of believers. Believers in what or in whom? In him, in his superiority, wisdom and the rightness of his path.

Below him are his subjects protesting in thousands, those outcasts who are unsuccessfully challenging his power.

Below him is his ungrateful country, where even a world chess champion can bite a policeman. The country that he has just blessed with numerous laws, a cumulative goal of which is to convince the population that any loud expression of protest leads to such financial and legal implications that we should keep our mouths shut and live happily ever after.

Such a contrast: the purity of the white garment, the spirituality, the nobility of a high purpose - versus the obscenity of Pussy Riot.

Is this the "asymmetrical" answer that Putin has promised to the world?

The asymmetrical answer to the Magnitsky case visa restrictions, to one of the world's worst mortality rates for working-age Russians [2], to the continuous increase in the numbers of highly-qualified specialists emigrating from the country, to an obsolete economic model heavily based on natural resources, to health care, ecological, and...Russia's endless problems that have been worsening during the 12 years of his unrestricted power?

He is too high now for all the petty denunciations of his huge personal wealth, accusations of corruption, accusations over Beslan, the Kursk submarine disaster, Nord Ost, Krimsk, ... He is Untouchable.

Is he tired of the burden of his power and wealth?

Has he, hovering high in the sky, freed himself of all responsibilities and duties to this tiresome country? Or is he simply bored just 6 months after imposing himself on his subjects as president for the third term?

In 2002, filling in a census sheet, Putin named his occupation “Providing services to the population.”  The best service he could provide for the country would be not to return.