Russia: Putin's Year

Global Voices Online
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vladimir Putin has been in the news a lot lately. If it's not the overwhelmingly overwhelming majority of Russians voting for his party, then it's Time Magazine naming him as its Person of the Year.

Below are some initial reactions to today's piece of Putin news from Anglophone Russia bloggers.

Robert Amsterdam:

[...] in general I think that it is a good thing for Americans to start focusing attention on Russia (however I am surprised that no mention was made of Mikhail Khodorkovsky or other similar figures). [...]

Lyndon of Scraps of Moscow:

[...] Brace yourselves for a wave of commentary and opinion pieces with this selection as a "hook," all of which will no doubt note that the honor - once known as "Man of the Year" - has in years past been bestowed on people like Stalin (twice!) and Hitler...

In the comments section to this post, Lyndon and W. Shedd of The Accidental Russophile discuss Putin's Time cover photo and his looks in general:


[...] I actually think he usually does a fine job of looking sinister (when he's not busy looking borderline goofy doing his "ganksta lean"/"pimp limp" swagger), and that it may be an intentional part of his image, although this particular photo would appear to be editorially selected for maximum sinister-ness.

On the other hand, I think Time used a tightly cropped head shot (and not this "throne" angle) for the cover, which is the more important photo. And I have to give the "throne" shot its due, since it is a great encapsulation of the "tsar"/"gangster" vibe that surrounds Putin these days (again, a vibe that is not entirely invented by the media but is in part self-created), so I'm sure the photog was delighted to capture it.

W. Shedd:

I remember some youtube or rutube clip (likely on some blog, of course) that showed a comic comparison of Yeltsin vs. Putin. Yeltsin of course was shown as a stumbling drunk, the the Putin portrayal showed him as something of a vain fashion horse, walking, posing, and turning like a model, vogue-ing for the camera.

That image of him has stuck with me, as sort of a vain guy and usually trying to appear serious.

Do you think he plays on a sinister look? [...]


There's actually going to be a talk in DC in Jan. titled "Presentation of Self in Russian Culture: The Case of Vladimir Putin." Should be interesting. [...]

W. Shedd of The Accidental Russophile:

[...] There is always something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Putin deserves the most credit for simply having clear ideas on asserting Russia's influence on the international stage, now that the nation has resurgent economic prowess.

To commemerate the occasion, I'm sharing the following Putin cut-out figure. Now you too can have a little Putin, Man of the Year, watching over your desk!


Inside Krasnodar:

Congratulations to Mr. Putin and to the country of Russia for being named “The Man of the Year.” While Time is correct to recognize the growing influence and importance of Russia in today’s world, it still fell back on old cliches and tired stereotypes in its cover story. Fortunately, Time magazine also printed the full transcript from its interview with President Putin. I often find that when one actually reads Putin’s words and has direct access to his thoughts and opinions one is surprised at how bright, logical, and insightful he can be. Sure you say but he’s still scary. Really? Read the transcript below and decide for yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised. [...]

Andy Young of Siberian Light:

[...] By dragging Russia kicking and screaming from the post-Soviet anarchy of the Yeltsin era, Putin has single handedly made ‘managed democracy’ a semi-respectable form of government. His success will encourage others to believe that, provided they secure stability and steady economic development for their people, they can rule indefinitely.

Whether this is a positive, or a negative development, I’ll leave you to decide. After all, you were last year’s Time Magazine Person of the Year…

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