Putin’s Per­fid­i­ous Gun­ship

The Moscow Times - - LIVING HERE -

Across the Rus­sian me­dia, one head­line dom­i­nates: State cen­sor­ship author­ity Roskom­nad­zor has de­clared war on Tele­gram, one of the dozen en­crypted mes­sag­ing apps avail­able in 2017. The rea­son? Uh, you know, ter­ror­ists can use it.

Mean­while, Aeroflot is play­ing the an­gry ex-spouse, say­ing it won’t re­hire pi­lots who desert the Rus­sian air­line for bet­ter-pay­ing jobs in China. And on the ra­dio, an Ortho­dox priest claimed that the right to anonymity on­line is satanic be­cause it leads to “harm­ful opin­ions.”

But all this fluff pales in com­par­i­son to the real news of the hour: Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin starred in a movie— about him­self, of course.

Film­maker Oliver Stone has fi­nally re­leased his lon­gawaited “Putin In­ter­views.” I have it on good author­ity that there are peo­ple who sat through the en­tire four hours. Be­cause you can never get enough Putin.

We won’t talk about Stone here. This is a col­umn about Rus­sia, and Stone doesn’t give a damn about it. As with his doc­u­men­taries on Fidel Cas­tro, Hugo Chavez and Yas­sir Arafat, he makes movies to troll Amer­ica. And there are cur­rently few bet­ter ways to of­fend West­ern pub­lic sen­ti­ment than say­ing that Putin may have a point.

But the Putin doc­u­men­tary has at­tracted pub­lic at­ten­tion for de­pict­ing a ma­jor pres­i­den­tial blun­der. The Rus­sian leader, de­fy­ing ru­mors of his tech­ni­cal in­com­pe­tence, showed Stone a smart­phone video of — Putin claimed — Rus­sian pi­lots bomb­ing ISIS. Only it later turned out to be a U.S. gun­ship blast­ing the Tal­iban, over­laid with con­ver­sa­tions by Ukrainian pi­lots fight­ing pro-Rus­sian sep­a­ratists in the Don­bas.

Mute em­bar­rass­ment all around? Maybe not! More than any­thing, this awk­ward episode shows Putin’s longterm ge­nius and strate­gic wis­dom. The pres­i­dent has been avoid­ing the In­ter­net for a long time — and he’s quite proud of it, judg­ing by his older state­ments.

Of course, we — the hacks and in­ter­net users — have long been mak­ing fun of Putin’s dis­trust of tech­nol­ogy more com­plex than a type­writer. At our most gen­er­ous, we called it the para­noia of an old KGB spook. At our least, we said it was a grand­fa­therly fear of the 21st cen­tury.

Then Putin tried the In­ter­net for the first time (at least pub­licly). And what hap­pened? It failed him per­fid­i­ously. If only he’d stuck to the red folder that face­less se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives give him ev­ery day as a news brief­ing, noth­ing of the kind would have hap­pened.

But no wor­ries! Ap­par­ently, there was no er­ror, be­cause Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said so. He in­sists the video was real. This raises an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion: Is there any way at all to get the Krem­lin to ad­mit wrong­do­ing? From MH17 to dop­ing and hack­ing, it seems im­pos­si­ble.

I di­gress. The im­por­tant thing is that the In­ter­net be­trayed Putin. Of course, Putin takes much of the credit for mak­ing the In­ter­net a place of half-truths and dis­in­for­ma­tion — a spy habi­tat in­stead of a com­mu­nity.

And now the 21st cen­tury has bit­ten the hand that shapes it. We can only hope that Putin will ex­er­cise his wis­dom again and heed that lovely Ortho­dox priest, stop­ping Satan in his tracks.

Make the In­ter­net trust­wor­thy again! Cue of­fi­cial IDbased in­ter­net ac­cess and log-on per­mits in the fu­ture.

And if the fu­ture won’t com­ply, they can al­ways just ban that too.

Un­fair Ob­server is a se­cret Rus­sian jour­nal­ist of­fer­ing a satir­i­cal take on the worst and most ab­surd de­vel­op­ments hap­pen­ing in Rus­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Russia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.