Christmas may be over, but it’s not too late to get your hands on this year’s hottest Vladimir Putin-themed gifts.
The Russian strongman, who enjoys an approval rating most Western leaders could never imagine, has always been more than just a president. He’s even fueled what some might say is a personality cult, with his face (and more) appearing on T-shirts and other tchotchkes.
This holiday season, it’s all about the inspiration that comes from having Putin close by, whether on your wall or your nightstand.
Putin’s love for posing — outdoors, at the gym, with wild animals — is already well-known. But those headline pictures always feel so distant. Now there’s a way to bring him right into your home or office.
A Russian tabloid has published a limited edition calendar for 2016 featuring a posing Putin on every page, along with a pithy quote to complete his macho image.
Here’s a line for the month of March that will make mom swoon: “I like all Russian women. I personally think Russian women are the most talented and beautiful!”
Wise words seem to be this season’s main theme.
How else could you explain the next excellent gift item: a 400-page collection of presidential statements and speeches called, “Words Тhat Аre Changing the World: Key Quotes From Vladimir Putin.”
For Russian bureaucrats, it’s a bit more than just recommended reading. A leading newspaper reported this week that the Kremlin handed out some 1,000 copies to state officials, while a top presidential advisor recommended at a recent meeting that every politician have the book at their desk.
The book pulls together 19 speeches spanning about a decade, at least some of which reportedly focus on asserting Russia’s role in world affairs. It was published by a prominent pro-Kremlin youth group that describes Putin’s words as “prophetic” but refuses to disclose its source of funding for the project.
If all this sounds a bit too Orwellian, it probably is.
But maybe that’s just par for the course in Russia, where George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, was one of this year’s best-selling books.
“Words Тhat Аre Changing the World” will be available for the public to buy in January 2016. We’ll see how that one sells.
Senior Correspondent Dan Peleschuk is based in Kyiv, Ukraine.