Putin's Kiss: Redux

President Putin visited the large Siberian city of Khabarovsk last Friday to meet with the people [ru] affected by massive flooding of the Amur River. A Russia Today-produced video (posted to YouTube) shows one of these meetings at a local community center, where people told him of their troubles and fears that the neighboring Chinese (Amur runs along the Russian-Chinese border) would come to take over their houses. As the president chatted with the flood victims, a toddler kept trying to catch his attention. Here is Moskovsky Komsomolets retelling [ru] the story:

- Все будет хорошо, не расстраивайся! – посоветовал мальчику Путин.
– Я не плакаю! – обиделся Анатолий.

“Everything will be fine… don't be sad!” Putin advised the boy.
“I not crying!” Anatoly took offence.

The little boy kept pestering Putin, and pulling on his sleeve throughout the meeting. Finally, Putin turned back to the boy, said “I understand, here, let me kiss you,” and gave him a smooch on the cheek.

Do politicians like children even when not campaigning? YouTube screenshot.

Do politicians like children even when not campaigning? YouTube screenshot.

Over at an anti-Putin group on the popular social media website VKontakte, one user recalled that Putin had once kissed a child on the stomach, commenting [ru]:

опять детей целует
куда мирзулина смотрит ваще?!

again with kissing children
where is Mirzulina [sic] looking, man?!
It’s a disgrace.

Mizulina is the sponsor of the federal law outlawing “homosexual propaganda.” Another user jeered:

Вова педофил.

Vova [Vladimir] is a pedophile.

Some Russians still equate homosexuality with pedophilia. The rumor that Putin “likes children” was actively spread on the internet after the “stomach” incident.

One compared Putin’s kiss to a werewolf bite, one that would eventually turn the victim into a second Putin:

он укусил ребенка! Теперь, каждую ночь, как только взойдет луна, ребенок будет воровать деньги, тайно переписывать на себя недвижимость и колоться ботоксом

he bit a child! Now, every night, as soon as the moon rises, the child will start stealing money, secretly transferring property ownership to himself, and injecting himself with botox

Still another mocked:



Meanwhile, others joked about the toddler's baby talk when speaking to Putin, making bad puns with the word “Плотина” (Dam), which the boy kept repeating. One viewer asked:

Ребенок говорит путину: “Палачина”?

Did the kid tell Putin: “Butcher”? [“plotina”(dam)->”palach”(butcher, executioner)->”palachina”(immense butcher)]

Another joked:

Ребенок, по сути сказал, не “платина”, а “плати На”.

The child, in fact, did not say “dam”, but “pay us”. [“plotina”->”plati na[m]”] (this pun can also be interpreted as “pay Na[valny]”, or “plati Na[h]” (“pay up f*cker”))

Another comment was tongue-in-cheek:

у мальчика мож проблемы с дикцией?

maybe the kid has problems with diction?

In the end, such jokes are mean-spirited, exploitative, and not very constructive. But, for some Russians who feel they no longer have a voice in their country, jeers and spite seem to be the only recourse left.

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