On Wednesday, I came across a Hallmark message camouflaged as a news report marking Vladimir Putin’s birthday.
It was on the English-language site of Sputnik International, a year-old Russian radio service that broadcasts Putin-centric propaganda around the world in 29 languages, including Estonian, Georgian, Latvian, Polish and Ukrainian.
Must be sweet nostalgia for the old KGB hood to have a Sputnik beaming bullshit to Russia’s neighbors in 2015.
Putin passed the day playing hockey with former NHL stars – they let him score seven goals – and attacking Syria.
Western media reported on the hockey game, as well as a new song titled “My Best Friend is President Putin,” by the Russian rapper Timati.
Did I just type the words Russian rapper?
Last year, for his birthday, a set of drawings displayed in Moscow showed Putin performing Herculean tasks – slaying Islamic terrorists and American imperialists.
This year, a London exhibition by a British artist depicts Putin as every flavor of hero – from Gandhi and Che Guevara, to Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, plus a weird, winking Salvador Dali.
“Is it us,” asks the British financial news site City A.M., “or is Pele-Putin kicking a football in the shape of the head of a very high profile U.S. politician (Obama)?”
In any case, here is the Sputnik story/press release:
“Today, President Vladimir Putin is celebrating his 63rd birthday. As expected, the leader’s special day has caused a ruckus on social media, with supporters both inside and outside Russia already coming up with some clever ways to congratulate the leader.”
That’s what social media was designed for – as a bludgeon for bullies from Moscow to middle school.
“The president is reported to be celebrating his birthday in a rather reserved manner, spending it as just another day at work. However, he does have plans to play some hockey with famous veteran hockey players and members of the Night Hockey League later today.”
Just another day at work – firing missiles at a foreign land, firing pucks at a petrified goaltender.
“As expected, the president has already received some traditional birthday greetings from foreign leaders. The presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus have sent their best wishes.”
If they hadn’t, they would not be the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus on Thursday.
“Putin was also congratulated by Narendra Modi, who offered a more up-to-date form of greeting, wishing Putin ‘long life, good health & happiness’ in a tweet.”
If Putin was prime minister of India, he’d have more than a billion Twitter followers, instead of Modi’s measly 15 million.
The prime minister’s tweet has already received 1,000 retweets.
All from the staff at the Russian embassy in New Delhi, the Kremlin, the KGB, Tass and Sputnik International.
“Naturally, the president also received greetings from Russian political figures, from parliamentarians to governors and republican leaders.”
What about all those U.S. Republican leaders who so admire Macho Man Putin – tussling with tigers and bears, oh my – compared to Cool Dude Obama?
“Probably the warmest message of greeting came from Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who congratulated the president on Instagram. Kadyrov’s message of congratulations praised Putin as ‘the most popular, courageous, strong, wise, and strong-willed politician in the world,’ wishing him ‘good health, good luck and success’ in his ‘very difficult and responsible work!’”
Didn’t Pinocchio send a similar Instagram to Geppetto?
“The Russian president also received congratulations from famous artists and public figures, including world-famous Italian musicians Toto Cutugno, Pupo, Al Bano, Ricchi e Poveri and Riccardo Fogli, who noted on a Facebook page of an Italian Putin fan club page that the Russian president is today ‘the main bulwark against the unipolar world and international terrorism!’”
Mussolini and Machiavelli also sent their best.
“The news media joined in on the fun, offering a humorous compilation of the president’s greatest moments of 2015.”
Hilarious snapshots of atrocities in Ukraine and Boris Nemtsov shot dead on a Moscow street.
“Even the normally anti-Putin liberal English-language newspaper The Moscow Times couldn’t help but fete the president, creating an entire article, suspiciously reminiscent of a recent Sputnik piece, complete with quotes and GIFs, on the president’s anniversary.”
It couldn’t help but plagiarize that citadel of Russian journalism – Sputnik.
“Celebrities and politicians aside, Putin has also received a ton of congratulations from social media users around the world, with the hashtag # PutinDay catching fire on Twitter.”
“Users from Russia and around the world congratulated the Russian president on his special day:
“‘Happy Birthday Vladimir Vladimirovich! You more than anyone else, are worthy of the people’s love!’
Love xo, Vladimir Putin.
“‘The dollar fell below 63 rubles, as a sign of respect.’
Love xo, Fox News
“‘The coolest president is celebrating his birthday.’
Love xo, Rasputin
“‘Fools are lucky. The rest of us have to work night and day. V.V. Putin #PutinDay’
Love xo, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
“‘Vladimir Vladimirovich! Give me five! Happy Birthday!’”
Love xo, Bashar al-Assad
“This year, the president also got quite a few messages of support for Russia’s decision to begin an air campaign against ISIL, in coordination with Russia’s Syrian allies.”
Love xo, Bashar al-Assad
“Have you congratulated the president yet?”
You talkin’ to me? Love xo, Travis Bickle.