We laughed at Vladimir Putin for pretending to be a Bond villain, and now we're not laughing because he's not pretending. He just realized that ballot papers work better than orbital death rays. It's much easier to make demands of a national government when you're their boss.
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" ... but I still want a giant TV monitor hanging over the United Nations. I'll use it to telecommute instead of demanding millions of dollars."
The result is a movie-style action hero: He's bold, he's manly, and he has lots of people writing on pieces of paper behind the scenes to make sure he wins everything no matter what the reality should be. He has crazier propaganda than the Legalize Unicorn Bestiality Party, and his recent activities look like Lex Luthor's to-do list.
"This kryptonite armor needs to be an inch thicker."
Putin organizes more photo opportunities than Beyonce. He's the world's most nuclear-capable male model.
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"Check out these guns, and my multiple warhead RSM-56 Bulavas!"
He's appeared in more awesome vehicles than G.I. Joe, and is even more childishly focused on manliness.
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"This is not the kind of bird I wanted to pick up with my sweet ride."
Vehicle photo shoots are high-velocity psychology tests: A motorbike means you want to look badass, a fighter jet says you think being at war with another country is awesome, and riding a horse is how you tell the world's women that you look glorious astride anything. He's done all of them and more.
"I will give anything I ride the sugar. This is both literal and figurative."
Transparent-domed mini-submarines are used only by people with nuclear warheads and work-related reasons to mention the fact. Putin commandeered one earlier this summer, allegedly to investigate a 19th century wreck, but mainly because he could.
"I really should wait until my base explodes, but this thing is just too cool."
This isn't the first time he's mini-submarined. The Russian president previously Red One-Weekend-in-October-ed to inspect "flammable ice" crystals packed with natural gas underneath the world's deepest lake. Not only can Putin be a Bond villain for real, he even found a way to make Quantum of Solace's silly water scheme exciting by finding water that can catch fire.
The Russian military's tank biathlon is exactly the same as the human version, except worth watching. The BBC has a video. Unfortunately they took it as a challenge to see how dully professional they could remain about a sport that makes Thunderdome look like shuffleboard.
Vitaly V. Kuzmin
"Here we see things that are either combusting or made to make other things start combusting. I'm William Boringly-Smythe for the BBC."
The human biathlon is based on how we used to hunt the food we need to keep moving, so it makes sense to extend it to tanks.
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"The American M1A1 tank in its natural feeding ground, the oil-rich foreign country."
The tanks are brightly colored to tell the teams apart, making it look even more like a video game that has awesomely escaped into the real world.
"I dare you to say something stupid about pink."
When a country starts showing off how much better their tanks are at quickly blowing things up, that's not relaxing for anyone on the same landmass. In the last 20 years, Russia has been engaged in four wars and claimed victory in half of them, moving up to two-thirds when you realize that the second and third were against the same "enemy," aka "country that didn't want to be part of Russia anymore." I haven't taken any business leadership classes, but killing people to keep them on your team has to be a self-limiting strategy.
"If you don't start answering my phone calls, I'll murder you again!"
Russia has also been holding massive war games on their borders with other countries, and on islands that are under international dispute with other countries. Islands that are then also under Russian soldiers practicing to solve international disputes. By shooting them.
It's nicer to think of it as a heroic attempt to make the Winter Olympics worth watching. Properly applied, this could make it so that everyone says "the Summer Olympics," instead of saying "the Olympics" (which means "the Real Olympics"). Imagine upgrading all the winter sports to kick ass: luging with main battle tanks! Curling with hand grenades! Ski jumping over attack helicopters! Ice hockey without any changes!
Vladimir Putin took over from Boris Yeltin, the first man to drunk-drive an entire superpower. After eight years of their leader turning up in foreign capitals like an old college buddy with an empty bottle and no shoes, the Russians were desperate for anyone who looked professional. "Ex-KGB" is as terrifyingly professional as a CV can get.
"My greatest weakness is the pterion of the skull, where a sharp blow can cause a hematoma, as it does in all human bodies."
His electoral platform was "I think Russia is awesome and am sober." In his first terms, he did things to the Russian economy that looked like he was using a cheat code. If he'd left after that, he'd have gone down as one of the most beloved leaders in Russian history. Although there isn't much competition for that title.
"Remember how Empress Anna used to brutally freeze nobles as well as peasants? Good times."
Unfortunately, he's less likely to leave than the Urals. Treating the constitutional law against more than two consecutive presidential terms as a minor technicality, Putin and Dmitry Medvedev swapped the presidency and prime ministership back and forth like mix tapes until Putin was president again, then extended the length of the presidential term from four years to six. Medvedev vigorously denied that he was a puppet, but political observers notice that his mouth still twitches every time Putin moves his hand.
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When Putin is using both arms, Medvedev reverts to an off state.
Russian "realpolitik" means basing your politics on practicality instead of ideas. Modern Russia elevates that to practically cutting out the idea of politics itself, especially the idea that more than one group should be allowed to take part. In 2011, Parnas, the People's Freedom Party, was denied registration just before the elections. This "freedom party" wasn't a bearded hippie representing his constituency of beard lice, but a serious opposition bloc including a former prime minister and deputy prime minister.
"Did you know beards can be infested with pubic lice? Sorry for telling you. But not as sorry as I am about the lice."
The Russian justice ministry claimed that the new party failed to meet several legal requirements, of which "supporting Vladimir Putin" was presumably the most mandatory. They also pointed out that the party's proposed charter did not provide for a rotation of leadership. They said this in 2011, when Dmitry Medvedev was busily eating rose petals so that his farts would gently scent the presidential chair before he gave it back.
When your massive governmental legal system is prosecuting an all-woman punk band, you're not just the bad guy, you're the bad guy in an '80s dystopia built entirely from frizzy hair and neon.
These enemies of the state look like they should be singing about the alphabet,
and the one on the left has clearly just forgotten her hand puppet.
The music video for "Mother of God, Drive Putin Away" was a protest against the leader of the Russian Orthodox church describing Putin's politics as a miracle. The resulting trial is brilliant reference material for writing a parody of a state-sponsored show trial, and terrible in literally every other way a human could conceive. For less than 60 seconds of jumping up and down in a near-empty cathedral, two members of the band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in labor camps. Others have fled the country. If you watch the video, you'll see that it's less sacrilege than it is school disco, a few seconds of fully clothed teeny-bopping cut between scenes of the band somewhere else. You've offended the sanctity of the church more if you've ever scratched yourself during a service.
"Take this, God."
They were charged with "hooliganism" and inciting "religious hatred," despite the song being purely anti-Putin. This wouldn't be the first time people have claimed he's god. On the upside, when "The Man" out to get you is the president himself, I think you win at punk.
Putin signed a bill to prevent Russian orphans from finding parents in memory of a man who died in jail. To save you from going back to check, the author of this article is not "Charles Dickens," nor "Charles Dickens' ghost after 140 years of lying in a grave stewing over things that were even more miserable."
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"I'm outta here until you stop reading that candyland Oliver Twist."
Auditor Sergei Magnitsky uncovered an alleged fraud of over $200 million by Russian officials and police officers, then reported it to Russian officials and police officers. This is known as a first and last mistake. He was arrested on charges of assisting fraud, because it would seem that corrupt officials have a sense of humor, then kept in jail until he died, because it would seem they are also total bastards. Also: It only took a year. Double-also: DO NOT end up in Russian jail.
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture condemned the Russian government over the death. A Russian court case ruled that that was just fine, acquitting the doctor who presided over a patient dying of toxic shock and untreated pancreatitis. They then ended the investigation into his death but continued the prosecution for fraud, the exact opposite of what's meant to happen when a suspect dies in even suspect-er circumstances.
They found him guilty in extreme absentia. The European Parliament found them in violation of international law for doing so. When your court case makes your country guilty of crimes against the defendant, your legal system is working exactly backward.
The most famous previous example was that time a pope dug up the corpse of his predecessor to scream a lot and find it guilty of pretty much everything, presumably including the first technically correct and unobjected charge of "being a stinky-head." Convicting a corpse of fraud is how you say "We haven't found a way to prosecute the concept of justice herself for false advertising. Yet."
She was denied a Russian entry visa for refusing to remove eyewear in her photo.
The affair led to the U.S. adoption of the Magnitsky Act, which empowers the seizure of assets from Russian officials involved in violations of human rights. Putin retaliated by banning the adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. families. For the last 20 years, around 3,000 children a year have found families in America. Putin put an end to that because he was pissed off. Meaning that a world leader is using the tears of orphans to fuel a necromantic attack on a dead man, because he understands that bureaucracy is more powerful and evil than black magic.
Putin recently signed a bill enabling the prosecution of anyone even suggesting the homosexual lifestyle in a public space.
When you legislate against the Village People, you are unquestionably the bad guy.
The law is so vaguely worded, it could legitimately arrest the Smurfs. Moscow has also forbidden pride marches for a hundred years, and Russia currently suffers from the kind of homophobic violence we normally only see when the start of a movie wants to establish scumbags as absolutely evil before the hero kills them.
Dutch filmmakers have already been detained under the new laws. When you're telling Dutch filmmakers to stop what they're doing, you're officially against fun, free speech, and giving a fuck what the rest of the world thinks of your gulag-with-passports. Even Stolichnaya are explaining how they're not really Russian, and that's a level of drinking problem no one else has ever dreamed of.
Vodka is normally responsible for embarrassment, not suffering from it.
Putin went further by firing more of his favorite weapon: orphans! Russian children may no longer be adopted by gay couples, or any unmarried couples in any country with marriage equality. Which you might notice is any country currently living in the 21st century.
I'm more disappointed than anything. I always hoped that Putin's evil scheme would be something awesome. A nuclear moon laser, or unleashing a race of cybernetically grizzlier bears. Not "I hate the gay." If nothing else, a charismatic leader of a country bordering the Baltic Sea publicly working to erase even the concept of a segment of his country's population is terrifyingly unoriginal.
For more Putinmania, check out 7 Reasons Vladimir Putin Is the World's Craziest Badass and 8 Hilariously Insane Examples of Vladimir Putin Propaganda. For funner international criminality, Luke fixes Final Fantasy and Halo by asking What if Every Video Game Were Saints Row?