Vladimir Putin continued his effort to create a cult of personality around his superhero exploits this week. If you recall, after his being featured as 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 where he “discovered” two sixth century urns under the water — one of which was in pristine condition with nary a seaweed adhering to its surface. As many of us suggested, Putin’s worshipful staff later admitted it was staged — as Putin was fully aware. Now Putin has decided to morph into a giant white crane – flying a motorized hand glider to guide young Siberian cranes on their migration to Asia while dressed in a white costume. It turned out to be an incredibly symbolic moment. Like many voters protesting his authoritarian policies, all but one crane saw through him for what he was and refused to follow.
With the usual fanfare for a Putin photo op, an army was ready to film his latest superhero act. However, only one crane followed him. Putin immediately blamed the wind. Yet, the second try resulted in only two cranes sticking with him for the 15 minute flight. They must not be Russian Orthodox cranes or perhaps were fans of Pussy Riot (or civil liberties).
The scene –meant to be reminiscent of the 1996 “Fly Away Home” movie, ended up just “Fly Away” and Putin was filmed looking a bit silly in his white crane outfit without a flock. Surprisingly, his ever-helpful aides did not attach a line of stuffed white cranes to his glider to affirm his leadership among the crane population. What is clear is that the entire flock will be fully investigated and prosecuted for activities harmful to the state.