How Russians Read Putin's NYT Op-Ed on Syria

Vladimir Putin, 16 July 2013, Kremlin press service, public domain.

Vladimir Putin, 16 July 2013, Kremlin press service, public domain.

It’s not every day that the Russian President pens an opinion piece in the New York Times, but it happened yesterday, and the American blogosphere promptly lost its collective marbles, as tweeting journalists and surprised ordinary Internet users stumbled over each other to react. In the aftermath of local and regional elections, most Russian bloggers seem to be too preoccupied with domestic issues to take much interest in what Putin had to say to Americans.

But not everyone has ignored the story, and many RuNet users have hailed the President’s overture as something of a needed display of Russian moral authority on the world stage.

Within hours of its publication on the New York Times’ website, the online translation portal posted a Russian language version [ru] of Putin’s article. At the time of this writing, the translation has attracted 476 comments, the majority of which express positive responses.

User Skuter, for instance, writes:

Правильно сделал ВВП. В большинстве амеры понимают и признают всё это. Пусть теперь не только амеры знают, но и Обама знает, что амеры знают. Думаю лишним не будет. А с БОМБАМБАМЫ пузырь вискаря Путину, за сохранение лица…а может и жизни…

[Putin] did the right thing. The majority of Americans understand all this and admit it. Now let not just the Americans know it, but let Obama know what the Americans [already] know. I don’t think it’s going overboard. And bombobama [Obama] owes Putin a bottle of whiskey for saving face… and maybe his life…

Another user called zapravdu writes, with a tinge of 9/11 conspiracy theory:

Великолепное обращение, вот еще бы американский народ его услышал. Потому-как их в их сми постоянно идет прямо-противоположный посыл. Да что говорить, даже о трагедии 9/11 многие имеют лишь поверхностную инфу.

A magnificent piece, and all the better that the American people heard it, since it’s always the exact opposite message in their mass media. Even when it comes to 9/11, many have only the superficial info.

Not everyone, of course, marveled at Putin’s eloquence. User namik83 contrasted Russia’s nonintervention position in Syria with its willingness to engage troops in South Ossetia and then Georgia in 2008:

очень красивые слова..но когда россия бомбила грузию где было то санкция оон о котором сейчас говорят так много

Very pretty words … but when Russia bombed Georgia, where were the UN sanctions they’re now talking about so much?

Echoing the sentiments of many in the LGBT community (whose patience with the Russian government has worn thin, after the recent wave of anti-gay laws), Anton Krasovsky (a gay Russian journalist who last year lost his job after coming out) asked on Facebook if Putin had homosexuals in mind, when he wrote that “God created us equal.”

On Twitter, there is evidence of a botnet celebrating Putin’s op-ed, tweeting laudatory remarks and using the hashtag “#PutinForPeace.” Many of these suspicious accounts, like Vasilii Kuharev’s, post relatively infrequently, typically using hashtags involved in various pro-Kremlin campaigns. (Mr. Kukarev’s account, for example, has been active four times since July 2013, once praising Putin [ru], and three times criticizing prominent members of the Russian opposition, always using suspect hashtags.)

If the Russian authorities are behind efforts to promote Putin’s New York Times piece (and frame it as a public relations victory over the White House), the Twitter botnet is undeniably a primitive attempt. But the bots aren’t the only ones on the Russian Internet trying to spin the story in this direction.

Stanislav Apetian, aka Politrash, is a pro-Kremlin blogger who also weighed in today on the President’s New York Times article. Apetian collected dozens of positive reactions (as well as a few negative ones) posted to Facebook by random Americans, translated them into Russian with the help of a friend, and published them together [ru] on LiveJournal. Apetian’s work conveys the same sentiments propagated by the #PutinForPeace campaign (pride in Russia’s apparent—and admittedly rare—public relations coup), without the phoniness of robotic retweets.

Ironically, it seems that the more effective strategy for promoting a positive twist on Putin’s article is the one that relies on American netizens—not Russia’s.


  • […] Originally published on Global Voices. […]

  • […] How Russians Read Putin’s NYT Op-Ed on Syria […]

  • joeyayoub

    You forgot to mention Garry Kasparov’s replies which is so far the only relevant one.

  • philbutler

    Mr. Putin has branded his name onto the fabric of American and world history in my view. As an American, there have been so few instances of utter credibility offered by leaders. As a web guru of sorts too, I think the final analysis of this gesture will show a greatness within us all.

    My great fried Chris Abraham wrote an adjoining piece on the Huffington Post, which really showed that inner brilliance all of us share. I would not ordinarily add a link in a comment, but you should read this.

    For me, all I can say is “Bravo President Putin”


    Phil Butler
    Editor at Everything PR News

    • None

      Hey Phil, how much is Kremlin paying you? Maybe you should move to Russia if you like Mr. Putin so much. Actually, you can request a political asylum there. Nobody needs people like you in America, because we are exceptional and you are a Kremlin’s tampon.

      • philbutler

        And if Jesus said you were perhaps less than impressive idea logically, then anyone who said “amen” would be a, what a “Jesus Tampon”? Insert any beloved or excellent figure you choose and twist.


        • None

          You are not Jesus. Putin is a KGB apparatchik, an adulterer, a liar and a criminal. And you are his hygienic pad. Enjoy! :)

          • philbutler

            I’m sorry, you are right, Obama is Jesus and Kerry is St. Peter. That would make you who? Jim Jones? I’m just in it to see if it’s possible to save lives. If that means being absorbent and easily disposable, so be it.
            Cheers from here to there in Hoboken.

          • None

            Save lives? No lives will be saved since the war in Syria is not over. In fact, the longer Assad is in power, the more lives will be lost. You are not absorbent, you are thick. You are welcome.

          • philbutler

            So None Nostradamus, you suggest that an intervention by the United States will save lives then? The concept of expanded US presence, and other world powers feelings about such, do not enter into your mightier than art thou American psyche? I am thjck, a tampon, and some kind of Ruskie commie because my ideas differ from yours. If I am thick, you are rich indeed.

            Look up nin·com·poop (ˈninkəmˌpo͞op,ˈniNG-/)

            Then learn to read and think for yourself. :)

          • None

            I don’t need to look it up. Nincompoop is your middle name.

  • Eevie

    It is refreshing and renews hope within us to hear truth from a world leader. You have my utmost respect and I thank you, Mr. Putin.

    • None

      Go back to Russia, we don’t want you here. Eevie? Yeah, right. Elena Cutyourcokoff.

      • Eevie

        You don’t seem to sure? lolol I have a phrase i reserve for you archontic led morons, but i can’t say it here. :) So i’ll say i love you instead.

        • None

          Please don’t tell me you love me. It will make me sick. Go back to school and learn how to spell instead. “too sure”

          • Eevie


          • None

            Some girls are easy.

  • […] by Kevin Rothrock · comments (5) Donate · Share: facebook · twitter · googleplus · reddit · […]

  • Raymond Moser

    Russian KGB disinformation.

  • Raymond Moser

    Is Putin the new Jesus? He is in the current Russian government campaign to demonstrate support for Putin on the internet. So transparent.

  • Raymond Moser

    Russian prostitutes and drug addicts were paid to post pro Putin comments all over the internet. What else would you expect from a KGB trained communist?

    • Сергей

      Ты американский идиот? Меньше читай американскую прессую. А если это не КГБ, а обычные люди России? Вся американская пресса говорит о плохом Путине, об тирании России… забывая ОДНО (!!!) – больше 65% поддерживают Путина. Американские идиоты слушают Каспарова, Навального – но в России они “ни кто” и ни кому они не нужны – их поддерживают около 10 %, большая часть которых проживает в Москве. Мне 20 лет – я и есть “средний креативный класс” (об котором говорит Навальный), но я и почти все молодые люди, учащиеся в университете поддерживают Путина!
      В Россия – демократическая страна, что бы не говорили ваши сраные сми.
      КГБ – это наша гордость.

      • Raymond Moser

        Same to you KGB.

  • Rama Chandran

    I don’t agree with the point that against Mr.putin, since many people give positive thoughts on him.

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