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President Putin’s address to the Russians

 

 

The people were listening to the Leader

 in a fright-state of danger-fraught joy.

 

Andrei Platonov

 

Esteemed citizens of Russia!

 

So the year of the Pig is past – the year 2007, that is. It was not an easy year. I will give it to you straight: it was a destiny-making year for Russia, the year when Russia finally rose from its knees and proclaimed: we are a Great Power again! You owe this glory, dear citizens, to yourselves and to your President whom you respect and love, judging by the latest elections to the Duma.

Let us remind our successes to ourselves. Take VVP; these letters stand not for my name - Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (just kidding, of course), but for “Valovyi Vnutrenniy Product” – Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Until now we were in the second ten of the world’s countries ranked by this economic indicator – in the 14th or 15th spot. It turned out, however, that if we count GDP differently – based on purchasing power parity – then we are in 8th place, already in the top ten! It is disseminated from the screens of your TV sets, this good news that we have caught up with – and passed – many developed countries. And if we use still another way of calculating, we will even reach 3rd place. Mr. Kudrin, the Finance Minister, advises me that in 20 years we will be in 1st place for sure. We could claim 1st place right now, of course, but that would be too much; one should know when to hold back. For the time being 8th place isn’t bad.

And now what does statistics tell us about the standard of living? It is a very important indicator; it measures how we live, what we eat. Statistics say that the average living standard has grown by a factor of two! Not bad at all. However, I don’t particularly trust statistics on this specific issue. All people whom I know have seen their living standard increase by 4 or 5 times! As for my buddy Abramovich, his living standard grew by a factor of 10,000 or maybe even a million, no less. I can’t be certain that your living standard grew by as much as that of Abramovich, but it should have risen by five times at least – like that of my cabinet ministers. In reality it should be more than that, since we don’t count all sorts of gifts which our society’s enemies call bribes. In the gifts departments we are flying very high – in the world’s top five, they say.

 

Esteemed citizens! I must admit that there are some shortcomings, too. I heard that 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. This is sad, but what can you do? Even in a country such as the USA 30% live below the poverty line. That’s capitalism for you; it can’t provide for everyone. Their middle class lives better than ours, though - one has to admit that. It would be doing fine here, too, but it doesn’t exist here yet. When it does emerge, then we’ll talk. And yes, we have inflation. I will let you in on a secret: food prices are about to start shooting up. How can it be otherwise? We’re not living under Stalin, when “there was a time when prices were reduced”, as a poet put it. Well, that was in the era of socialism – and under a harsh dictatorship, as you know. Do you need that terrible past? All those sports, literature and arts personalities who have taken the places of legislators in the Duma agree with me. To sum up: we are living in that capitalism which is so dear to you, for which you Russians have been fighting.

Let us now return to the few shortcomings. The most important one is this: once again our numbers – that is, your numbers - have declined by a million over a year. On the other hand, as a result there’s a lot of money left over that can trickle down to the living. The ministers are advising me that a certain part of it has indeed trickled down to certain individuals; perhaps the rest will trickle down too. See, your future President Dima Medvedev is busying himself with increasing the birth rate. He says that his injections in the growth of population (financial ones, that is) are already showing. For example, in the village of Overassovo two were born while only one died; same thing in the hamlet of Heavensk. This means that the trend has been reversed in the direction of growth, and this can only give joy.

There are some other very bright spots in the development of our economy and our social life. If you are not sensing them yet, you will sense them for sure… in the next 20-30 years if you live that long. Now don’t you let us down. But then, where will you go? Regardless of whether our economy is developing forward or backward, the Russian people stay intact in any event – that is, they preserve their national thoughtfulness and resourcefulness and set their sights on the distant future, for the present never interests them. You are a people of a bright dream, which, I would say, is not tied to any particular economic system. You are my dream as well. Anything does come true with such a people.

 

And now about our successes in the international arena: they are even more impressive than the victories on the domestic front. Firstly, throughout this year of the Pig they wrote about me in almost every newspaper in the West. Even their bourgeois magazine Time proclaimed me “Man of the Year”. So what if this honor had been previously bestowed by them on Adolf Hitler – what’s the big deal? He, too, was a historical personality. Secondly, the West got a taste of our iron arm. They realized that we are not to be messed with: we can shut tight all the spigots if we like to – or not. Thirdly, even though they ignored all our warnings about the anti-missile-defense installations in Poland and in Czechia, we are not scared, and we shall retaliate by retargeting our missiles. As for Iran, we told them a hundred times, and we shall say it for the hundred-first time and for the 200th time if need be – we will not let them harm Iran. And about Kosovo: how many times must we tell them that negotiations are called for? They keep insisting on independence. If they don’t respect our international prestige which keeps growing ever higher, we shall raise it by another meter so that they finally notice how great it is. In any case they have their tails between their legs after my Munich speech.

The West, however, will not be the West unless it accuses us of something. They started accusing us – me, that is – of Stalinism, of sort of suppressing democracy and strengthening the regime. That is, once again they manifested their utter ignorance of our history. Could this many oligarchs be walking free under Stalin? Could this many newspapers exist that criticize the regime - myself included? That’s in the realm of domestic policy. As for foreign policy – could they have occupied Iraq under Stalin? With me in power, they can. Could they have torn Yugoslavia apart? Same thing – with me in power, they can. Stalin only had to sneeze to make the imperialists go weak in the knees. Myself, I can sneeze, or cough, or make threats with steel in my voice – all to zero effect. Is that any kind of Stalinism? It’s a democratic regime.

Or take domestic policy again: they say that I appointed my successor, while in a democracy he should have been elected. Elections are envisioned, though of course he will win. What do you want - that I run for a third term? The people are willing to elect me for perpetuity; my people spit on the Constitution.

Now a few words about foreigners. It’s amazing how much we do for them, esteemed fellow Russians! There are no industries left to which foreign capital is denied access; it has practically seized control of everything – almost like the time of the tsar Nicholas II, to whom let there be memory eternal. How it flourished in the time of that tsar, the Russian land! Just ask Mikhalkov the film director. It is only in the public eye that our domestic businessmen are front and center; lined up behind their backs, however, is nearly half of Brighton Beach.

Summing up, however, the balance is tilting in our favor: the West is beginning to be wary of us. Not scared yet, but wary – yes. This is just the beginning; we will make them shake in their boots for sure! 

 

And now about the main event of the year. Yes, you guessed right – I’m speaking of the elections to the Duma. I evaluate the results as a show of the people’s complete trust in our, that is your, party – United Russia – and through the party, in me.

In this connection let me thank certain powers that facilitate our common success in the elections. I will start with something unexpected – with thanks to our oligarchs. What did you think? They got the money, they have the power; it is they who are the core of our capitalist popular system. They have been behaving themselves, keeping quiet, refraining from putting spanners in our political works – in short, they did not argue with the regime. And I recall someone saying that we shouldn’t have thrown those guys – Khodorkovsky and Lebedev – in the slammer. See now? the lesson was obviously beneficial.

Comrade Zyuganov and his Communist Party also deserve thanks. He proved to be a responsible comrade after all; he made no waves, he did not call the people to the barricades – only to those places that we permitted to him. There have got to be some places to let out steam; we are versed by now in technologies for keeping these lefties on a rein. For this they enjoy seats in the Duma – a whole 57 of them. They will get to feed in a decent canteen – and get some decent apartments, too.

Mister Zhirinovsky did not let us down, either. He’s an eagle, or rather a falcon. Firstly, he siphons off votes from the left-wing patriots. Secondly, he takes the votes of the mentally ill and of those who love political circus stunts – the kind of public we nurture with our television – quite successfully, I should say. These are not serious people, of course; our party has no need of them anyway. On the other hand, they are still part of the electorate; let them better vote for Zhirinovsky than for the others. I hope that you understand what I say, citizens of Russia.

As for the airborne trooper, Mr. Mironov, there’s nothing to say really – he is serving his fatherland and myself like he is supposed to.

 

And now I want to make one more curtsy – to say my enormous thanks to the radical democrats who kept turning their eyes to the West. If it weren’t for them, we would have had to clobber the Communists, even though they don’t deserve it – they have been comporting themselves quite meekly. The democrats, though, proved to be quite the noisemakers. It wouldn’t have been too bad if they yelled their heads off here in Russia; but no, their every interview was to the Western press. Well, I give interviews to the Western media, too, but I never bad-mouth Russia, like they do. Can’t you understand that their democracy is not like ours? By the way, I am well disposed toward Germans, for example; I even helped their former Chancellor find a new job. But there are the nemtsy (Germans), and then there is Nemtsov. Do you feel the difference? We can’t love the Nemtsovs, really – or this millionaire chess player, Kasparov. However, my people sensed right away that these guys are not of our kind, they are not Russians. We could not avoid reacting to our people’s feelings, of course; we had to put these “outsider” individuals in their place. They did their job, though; they drew all the fire, and we looked pretty good when compared to them. Thank you, messrs. Democrats. 

 

My biggest thanks, though, go to Father Alexy the Second. Now he did a really great job: he managed to turn nearly the entire people into servants of God. What a people we have now! Relaxed, pacified, with no need of happiness on Earth any more; it’s the atheists who demand happiness here in this world. It’s a theory with no prospects, by the way; it lacks strategic vision. Don’t people need happiness after death? What about the soul, the resurrection? They say that there is no life after death and no resurrection; oh, the foolish godless. If one man could rise from the dead, why can’t the others? The precedent is there, and many believe in it, by the way. Oh well, this kind of talk is not fit for my address; the important thing is that I’m grateful to the priests – and doubly thankful to Patriarch Alexy who supported both me and my successor.

 

I dare hope, dear compatriots, that you have approved already my choice of a successor. The public opinion polls say that yes, you have. There are some critics, true, but their criticisms are trifling, concerned with minor details. Some say that he is too young; well what – do you want a geriatric like Brezhnev? Others say that he’s not tall enough; they are concerned about his stature for some reason. So what – was Napoleon a giant? I, myself, am no Cromwell either. But why look at me – what about Stalin? No giants could have held the country’s reins as tight as he did. Do you recall a really tall President we had – the alcoholic? Do you recall what he drove the country to? It fizzled out.

I have to say that I was pondering a surprise for you: offering you a woman for President – I mean Valentina Matveenko, the Governor of St. Petersburg. I thought that perhaps she could turn out like a new Catherine the Great. Then I took a closer look at her entourage and found among them no Orlov brothers, no Potyomkin, no Panin. I started having doubts, and I also remembered the fate of Indira Gandhi. Also, I had to think about you, dear Russians, for she would have implemented prohibition throughout the land, and that would have been the end – half the country would disappear; all the men, in any event, would have died from consuming polluted ethanol and other such poisons. So be glad that you get a good boy for President. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, he used to be an athlete, and he’s a lawyer, on top of that. He’s intelligent, he wrote chapters for three whole volumes – even I wrote less.

 

And now I want to express my enormous gratitude to you, citizens of Russia. They tried to perform many swinish tricks during the year of the Pig, but they failed – both the external enemies and the internal ones – the fifth columns, so to say. That’s because a great people lives in Russia – you. You have no fear of poverty, you have no fear of-10C temperatures in your apartments, you have no fear even when you have no apartments or homes. You are not frightened by fires that kill the old, the very young and the alcoholics. Despite the ubiquitous hard drinking, you get no headaches from the shrinking of the country’s population, from the absence of health care in most cities, from the incessant murders and industrial accidents, from the deaths on the roads and from the absence of roads as such. You are not frightened by the rising prices of foodstuffs and utilities. You are glad that there are people among you who can afford to shell out a million dollars for a singer from beyond the sea who gets flown in to do an hour-long set for some oligarch. You are not saddened by the fact that some have cars worth a million dollars, while others can’t afford to take the bus or the subway. You are overjoyed by handouts – pardon, I mean presents – from the authorities, and you believe in our promises of a bright life. You are glad that there are now misters in Russia – and you don’t notice that there are now more slaves than misters. All this gives comfort to my soul.

 

So now starts the year of the Rat – the ratty year, so to say. It’s an unpleasant animal, but what can you do. I wish to congratulate you with this year and wish you the following. Firstly, I wish that you don’t become rats that abandon the sinking ship. Should you start escaping from our ship, i.e. Russia, there will be no one left to save it. Certainly the oligarchs won’t do it – they already live abroad for the most part. Secondly, when someone tells you that something is not well in our country, remember dialectics. He may be right, but according to dialectics, everything “bad” transforms through contradictions into “good.”  This means that the more “bad” we have, the more “good” we will have. Thirdly, I wish that you be “healthy like the Caucasus mountaineers,” despite the absence of medicines and decent health care. The latter is not needed, by the way; in the Caucasus mountains there are no medicines at all, yet the people there live to an age of a hundred and even a hundred fifty years. Fourthly, don’t rely on the local authorities and always have thought as your assistance; it will get you through. Fifthly, try next year not to become part of that million by which our population will shrink again. Sixthly, I remind you just in case to support my protégé Dima Medvedev – otherwise I will become unemployed. How will you manage then without me and without my “Putin plan”? Seventhly, may you not be deserted by the ability to dream of your bright future despite the not-quite-bright present. Let it be so, for the fresh reason of historical optimism never left the Russian soul.

 

And totally lastly: yes, we are living in difficult times, but I promise you to ease the coming misfortunes of life, and then happiness will arrive inevitably, historically. How can you not repeat after this what was said by Sergei Kirov, one of Stalin's comrades-in-arms:  goddamn it, one wants to go on living, on and on. With you, with my great people!

 

Be happy, dear Russian citizens!

 

 

On behalf of the President of the Russian Federation,

 

Alex Battler

 

27-12-2007