5 Ways Vladimir Putin Is Failing at Supervillainry

In a very weird and sort of disturbing way, Vladimir Putin has earned the Internet's adulation as the ultimate statesman/badass, and all the press shots of him riding shirtless on horseback certainly make him seem like the modern, Russian incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.

AFP / Getty

Look at that thick-armed, barrel-chested hunk of man. Sure, he lacks the abs of a Tatum, but they're pretty damn good for a career politician who could redeem a senior citizen discount at the Sizzler. But hey, were any other pictures taken that day? If so, I'm sure none of them make Putin look like everybody's drunken Uncle Man Tit that one Fourth of July at Lake Hangover-Shades.

AFP / Getty
At least Putin's pants are on.

The real Vladimir Putin isn't a mix of the best parts of He-Man and Skeletor. Hell ...

#5. He Can't Even Kill His Own Tigers ...

You've probably also seen this picture somewhere in your Facebook feed:

Barcroft Media / Getty
Where the hell are our pictures of Obama cuddling with grizzly bears?

The Russian government's story doesn't invite comparison to Teddy Roosevelt so much as it drunkenly demands that comparison via megaphone. Putin was visiting a nature reserve to see some scientists studying the Amur tiger (because if you ran a country, you'd take every opportunity to hang out with tigers, too). Somehow, a surprise tiger (they're ALL surprise tigers) found its way to some delicious photographers and pounced. The men survived only because Vladimir Putin had the foresight to be lurking nearby with a rifle.

Putin tranquilized the shit out of that tiger bastard and saved the day. Yes, it does sound a little like the kind of claim someone nicknamed Lying Joe Bullshitowitz would drunkenly make at a bar, but this was a major PR event for a nation whose name doesn't rhyme with "Borth Florea." Surely it couldn't be some sort of tragic, nightmarish fake?

AFP / Stringer / Getty
It's much more believable that the leader of a world power gets to wander alone through the jungle.

Of course, tragic nightmarish things are Vladdy Poo's bread and borscht: The whole encounter was a setup. Putin had a zoo tiger kidnapped, tranquilized, and snared so he could take pictures of it. Being the sort of wussketeer who'd fake saving a life, Putin apparently lacked the hammer and sickle to face a tiger with less than three times the recommended dose of tranquilizers. And then the tiger died, because we live in a terribly sad world.

Since I didn't end on a joke, feel free to imagine Putin with a fleshy hammer and sickle dangling from his taint. I think you'll agree it was time well spent.

AFP / Stringer / Getty
As was this graffiti.

#4. ... Or Prop Up His Own Puppet Governments

The least a dictator should be able to do is prop up a few friendly despots in smaller neighboring countries. Hitler had Franco and Mussolini, Stalin had a whole bunch of guys, and for a little while Putin had a fellow named Yanukovych. Viktor Yanukovych was your standard issue tin-pot dictator, right down to bankrupting his country via a giant expensive palace:

Jeff J. Mitchell / Staff / Getty

Reuters / Konstantin Chernichkin

In case you're wondering, that second picture is Yanukovych's private boat-restaurant, which sailed him around his private lake for dinner whenevs. So maybe it shouldn't be super surprising that the Ukrainian economy spent most of 2013 with the fiscal equivalent of whiskey dick. Putin offered Yanukovych a $15 billion bribe to stabilize the economy (read: buy more boatstaurants). His only demand was for Ukraine's president to veto a pesky little trade treaty that would've moved his country one step closer to joining the EU.

Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP / Getty
And Putin shed a single tear.

See, Russia has a longstanding fear of making skin-to-skin contact with Western Europe. It's been a big concern since well before Hitler invaded the pants off of them, although that didn't exactly help matters. It's not hard to see why Putin would want to turn Ukraine into a glorified wall between Russia and the rest of the world. The Ukrainian people weren't real big fans of this idea, because few nations aspire to speed bump-hood.

Yanukovych responded in fluent Dictatorese with riot police as his participles and torture as his gerunds. All this violence inexplicably bred more violence, and the situation quickly spiraled from "protest movement" into "heavy metal album cover":

Everybody's on drums.

Putin advised "violent repression" and offered his pet president $2 billion to get rid of those pesky rebels once and for all. Yanukovych sent in his legions of storm troopers ...

... and wound up deposed for his troubles. Even in the real world, evil empires are never more than a few plucky upstarts away from explosive disaster.

X-Wings are expensive; Molotov cocktails cost about $6.

#3. Real Dictators Don't Hide Their Invasions

It's hard not to draw comparisons between Russia's annexation of Crimea and Hitler's annexation of Austria. Here's a key difference: The Nazis marched their asses into Austria wearing German uniforms. Putin has sent more than 10,000 troops into Crimea so far, all the while claiming them to be "spontaneous" volunteers who just happen to be wearing Russian army uniforms with blacked-out insignia.

AFP / Stringer / Getty
Just being Russians and soldiers doesn't make them Russian soldiers, does it?

I do my best not to encourage dictatoring, but it seems like all the fun of having a big swingin' army dick would be kind of undercut by pretending they aren't your army at all. No one should get badass points for the realpolitik equivalent of punching somebody's shoulder and then pointing and shouting, "LOOK OVER THERE!"

Now, in all fairness, pretending not to invade a country when you're really doing exactly that is the kind of thing a proper Bond villain could make look awesome, but Putin couldn't even be arsed to pull it off with some style. Rather than Hans Grubering up some fake terrorist group, he had his men put black tape on their insignia and suggested that they probably "acquired the uniforms from army surplus stores." It's like Red Dawn, if all the invading ... uh, Cubans had claimed to be Colorado Highway Patrol officers.

AFP / Getty
"For Mother R- uh, this country. Whichever one we're in now."

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