Four hours and forty minutes. Two hours and six minutes of which were broadcast live on Russian TV. One thousand three hundred and sixty-four journalists. Over 100 questions from fifty-two reporters. Those are some heady stats. When the vozhd’ speaks, the media listens.
Putin appeared loose in his final showcase. Reuters described his performance as “mixed flirtatious banter with metaphors about snot and showed a gift for sarcastic brush-offs worthy of a stand-up comedian.” The snot references were to questions about his alleged hidden wealth and the hard man hours he put in as Prez. To the former he said that reports about his wealth were “rubbish . . . excavated from someone’s nose and then spread on those bits of paper”. To the latter, he said “Heads of state have no right to whine, or drool for any reason… If they are going to slobber and blow snot and say things are bad, bad, then that’s how it will be.”
One of my favorites was his response to Hillary Clinton saying he had no soul. “A state official must at least have brains,” he stuck back. Given how her Presidential bid is going, Putin might be on to something. He even gave a shout out to his “American partner” George W. Bush. “You have to make decisions that nobody else is in a position to make. They are not always pleasant decisions. It isn’t easy. Is it easy for George Bush? This is where the buck stops.” To questions asking him to guarantee the ruble’s stability he said, “What do you want? Do you want me to eat soil from a flower pot? Take a blood oath?” Jesus people, just because the man’s visage is hung all over Russia, doesn’t mean he’s God. Naive monarchism is so 19th century.
Indeed, Putin was not without humor or wit. Kommersant was even kind enough to pick out some of the his sure to be memorable aphorisms. Here’s the list.
“All these eight years I worked like a slave in a galley from morning to night.” (On his work as President)
“I don’t think that we need to sprinkle ashes on our heads and beat ourselves with chains to prove that everything is fine with us.” (On relations with Poland).
“Let them teach their own wives how to cook shchi!” (On international election monitors on the Russian presidential elections.)
“As we said during Soviet times: If you want to “bury” a person, you appoint him to agricultural work.” (On Dmitri Medvedev’s resolve and national projects)
“Don’t whine and blubber about every subject” (On the character of a president.)
“It’s not over until the fat lady sings.” (“Не говори гоп, пока не перепрыгнешь”) (On being named to the post of Prime Minister)
“What can a person without a visa say about Tchaikovsky’s music?” (On relations between Russia and the West)
“Everybody must hoe their area like Saint Francis, boom, boom, everyday.” (On the activities of ministers)
And if anyone can translate and explain the following to me, I’d appreciate it: “Как у нас в некоторых местах говорили, “шило в стенку и на боковую залечь”” (о возможности покинуть политику).
Putin wasn’t all just shits and giggles. He seemed annoyed at the repeated “third term” questions. Just take a look at the photo above. He looks like he’s reaching to rip someone’s heart from their chest.