In a previous, I expressed profound doubt over the latest installment of “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: Action Hero.” If you recall, after his being featured a race car driver, great white hunter, jet pilot, oceanologist, martial artist and Hell’s Angel, Putin was shown as a scuba diver. While only having dived three times, Putin was filmed at an ancient Greek Black sea site and . . . you guessed it . . . he “discovered” two sixth century urns under the water — one of which was in pristine condition with nary a seaweed adhering to its surface. Most of us laughed at the display of unrestrained megalomania, but the Russians insisted that it just shows how superhuman Putin is. Now, after ridicule outside of Russian, an aide admitted it was staged.
The idea that these urns could be found just seven feet under the water near the shore laying on the surface was absurd. However, Putin went along and paraded with his claim to be a world-class archeologist. The tradition of a strongman in Russia runs deep in its history and has often ended badly for Russia — and the rest of the world. Civil libertarians know Putin not as a superhero but for his most successful role as an authoritarian bully who brags about beating protesters and almost single handedly stopped Russia’s move toward a free society.
Putin’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, admitted to the lie. Peskov said “Look, Putin did not find an amphora that had been lying on the bottom for many thousands of years. That is obvious.” However, Peskov shrugged off the admission that the entire scene was a fake designed to fuel this cult of personality. He insisted “They either left them there, or they put them there,” he said. “This is completely normal. It is totally not a pretext for malicious joy and so forth.”
“They” would appear to be Russian officials who were willing to risk the loss of two sixth century artifacts to inflate Putin’s ego further. He was shown carrying the urns from their handles – dangling by his side in a fashion that sent true archeologists into hyperventilation. Someone decided to take these precious items and put them on the ocean floor to be retrieved by a man who needs adoration the way a junkie needs heroin.
A cult of personality has been carefully constructed by Putin and this embarrassing display is the result. One aide recently proclaimed that Putin was sent by God himself to Russia and the world. It truly worries me to see the return to power of a man in so great a need for adoration and attention.
Of course there is little coverage of this in Russia and even less outcry. A country that made the painful emergence from authoritarian rule is now slipping back into old habits. Putin has been denounced by Mikhail Gorbachev for destroying the democracy movement in the country.
Wait, I have an idea. Perhaps aides could stage Putin discovering the long lost civil liberties of Russians in a volcano. He could then add volcanologist and Russians could enjoy freedom.
Source: NY Times