We have spent years following the absurd series of photo ops featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin from shooting tigers to fishing bare chested in the wild to leading wild cranes in migration to Asia to riding leather-clad through Moscow. The ridiculous claim that Putin found the ancient vases on his very first stint as a scuba diver proved too much for even the most gullible Russians. After aides admitted it was staged following international ridicule, Putin has now shrugged off all of the students as staged events.
With the nonchalance that comes from years of authoritarian habit, Putin expressed surprise that the years of staged events were considered genuine despite concerted efforts by aides to claim precisely that.
Putin told reporters “Of course it was a set up.” However, he insisted it was done for the animals and the causes — not for himself or his overt efforts to create a cult of personality. While it is unlikely to change the worshipful treatment given to him by the Russian Orthodox church, the admission reaffirms Russian reformers that Putin has become truly pathological in his self-obsession and excesses. Indeed, even Putin admitted that “of course there are excesses.” However, those excesses, of course, were by his aides not himself.
At least this might spare us from having to watch Putin leaping around in the next Bolshoi production.