On March 18, 2014, two days after Crimeans voted in a referendum to join the Russian Federation, President Vladimir Putin gave a speech [ru] in which he announced that he would bring Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol into the fold as two new federation members. Until this announcement was made, it was not clear whether Russia would annex the new territories outright, or if it would leave them as an independent, contested region like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, or Transnistria.
Regardless of how one feels about the Crimean question, it was a landmark speech, and one that bloggers reacted to the way they usually do on the Internet. Through memes. Here are some of them:
Many Russians reacted with glee. After all, even according to opposition polls [ru] a majority supports the “re-acquiring” of the picturesque peninsula.
For others, the feelings were more mixed. If Putin “stole” Crimea, is it still a good thing? Perhaps it's hip, like a video game.
You can depend of PM Dmitry Medvedev to provide a sense of stability and narrative. His falling asleep during public functions has certainly been a common thread over the last couple of months of Russian policy-making.
“Starting today I get rid of all American products in my life. Friends, join me! #StopUSA” tweeted Mikhail Dvorkovich, a Russian businessman and brother to a Medvedev adviser, as a response to threat of American sanctions [Global Voices report] against Russian officials. Many people pointed out the irony of him tweeting from an iPhone, and, indeed, using an American founded service to reach out to his audience.
Some Russian bloggers seem to view weak American sanctions as a sign of US tacit support of President Putin's actions. Hence this rather delicate photoshop of him in a Russian security forces uniform. “Thanks comrade Obama!”
6.On the other hand, Ukrainians are demonstrably upset with President Putin's speech. This particular reaction seems as vehement as it is futile.
Nazi comparisons have been a mainstay of the discourse between Ukrainians and Russians for the last few months, and now, post a new “Anschluss,” it is no different.
An even less charitable Nazi parallel, if that's at all possible.
An image of North Caucasian youth dancing in a Russian street. “If you aren't careful, Crimea,” says the author of the image, “Russia's ethnic minorities will take over!” This is especially ironic will all the accusations of Nazism flying around.
Some Ukrainians remain hopeful that the USA and the EU will take decisive action to punish Putin and Russia. And if the Russian Federation does get kicked out of the G8 this year, who better to take its place but Ukraine?