Vladimir Putin took time off this week from trying to become a Russian action figure as a firefighter, whale shooter, and Hells Angel to return to a common conventional role: Russian dictator. With protests scheduled around Russia concerning the loss of civil liberties and his own prolonged rule, Putin defended any use of police brutalilty — promising protesters that they should expect a “whack on the bonce”.
The Russian street slang refers to beatings and Putin said that is precisely what protesters deserve. This is the man who George Bush insisted was good after looking into those steely action figure eyes.
The protests will occur throughout the world and have been taking place in Moscow and St Petersburg on the 31st of each month. Putin made clear that they need to ask for permission to protest and, if they don’t receive it, they are going to be beaten: “You’ve got it? Go and march. If not, you don’t have the right. Go to a rally without permission and you get a whack on the bonce. It’s that simple.”
He noted with approval that London demonstrators who protested without permission also got a “whack on the nut.” Putin added: “There, nobody is indignant. If the aim is to say something it must be done in a different way.”
Putin’s allies in Moscow have refused requests for protest permits.
The organizers have called these demonstration “Strategy-31 protests” after paragraph 31 of Russia’s constitution, which is supposed to guarantee freedom of assembly. It is not clear if Putin will add a paragraph 32 on the guarantee of “a whack on the bounce” when exercising the guarantee under paragraph 31.