As befits the future Savior of Humanity (or at least the Savior of Blonde Russian Gymnasts in the Duma), Vladimir Putin has been extremely busy this past summer. One of his major tasks has involved recruiting new members of the Putin Pals, his protective managerie of super-powered animal agents. Thunk Tank Cohost Jay and I often wondered why it was that the Putin Pals did not have any bird members, when their primary mission will be to defeat the insect forces of MANTIS. How is it that Putin would recruit a Were-Whale before he’d got even one bird? (Anuka, the Flying Donkey, does not count as a bird, because: Legs. Hooves. Hair. Mammal.) Naturally, the Leader was just waiting until the time was ripe, and this summer he finally judged time to be squooshy and soft enough to unveil his Craneforce. Dressing in the uniform of a Crane Obergruppenfuhrer—sort of a white hazmat jumpsuit with weird black goggles—Putin jumped aboard Craneforce One and led the baby cranes on skywriting maneuvers high in the sky above Moscow, where they wrote “Surrender, Pussy Riot!” in smoke, and also in Russian, not English. And Cyrillic. Cyrillic letters are really hard to make in smoke, but of course Putin enjoys the challenge.
Meanwhile, Pussy Riot did not surrender, but they were mostly captured and put on trial anyway. For months they’d been going around singing anti-Putin songs (one of which we played on ThunkTank back on February 7, maybe), but technically they were arrested and charged and tried and convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for staging a protest inside a cathedral. You can read the final defense statements they made at their trial, and I hope you do.
There have been some protests in Russia since Pussy Riot were convicted, some more convincing than others. First, there was this:
An elderly woman and her middle-aged daughter were murdered in Moscow, and “Free Pussy Riot” was written on the wall, in their blood. In English. The combination Crime-and-Punishment and Helter-Skelter vibe makes the whole thing pretty suspicious, although you’d think anyone who can teach cranes to skywrite in Cyrillic would be able to teach black ops agents to use the Russian alphabet in their blood writings.
This was a more convincing protest, but probably ineffective.
Two years is a long time. And now that Medvedev has come out in favor of releasing the criminal songstresses, expect them to serve the full sentence.
Meanwhile, Putin carries on being the most macho president of any country anywhere. When asked about Pussy Riot in an interview with RT on September 6, he went off about orgies and group sex and the word “pussy”—seriously. What other Leader would do that? Well, other than Berlusconi … Berlusconi, sure. But Berlusconi doesn’t teach cranes to skywrite.