Has political parody in Russia turned Vladimir Putin into a national joke?
Putin, who says that he does not use the internet, seemed unaware that much of the fear that he generated in his first decade in power has evaporated in the past year. Provoked by allegedly falsified results in the December Duma elections, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets to protest against Putin’s decision to stand for a third presidential term in the election of 4th March. (He purported to stand aside in 2008 in taking the role of Prime Minister.) If he had been more connected with Russia’s fast-growing online culture, he would have known that by comparing the protestors’ white ribbons to condoms (as he did in the same phone-in), and metaphorically inviting his opponents to come to him to be hypnotised, suffocated and consumed, he was only offering himself up to the ridicule of the satirists who have played such a large role in the nation’s sudden political change of mood.