Russia’s latest assault on the sensibilities of the West comes in the form of an art exhibition in Moscow. You can tell that the press in Russia can’t be truly free because, were it to be so, headlines in Russian red-tops (no pun intended) would surely be inviting their readers to laugh themselves silly at the subject title alone: The Twelve Labours Of Putin. Yep, you got it, they have characterised Putin as Hercules.
Those who love the classics may well blanch at the very idea: Hercules is the Greek god and all-time hero Heracles, the son of Zeus. Facts aside, what is so hilarious about this is that the Russians are taking these ridiculously over-adulating images seriously. The only more amusing facet is the degree to which Putin appears to be able to inflate his ego without people falling about laughing: I mean, can you imagine Tony Blair in the guise of St. George impaling Wendy Deng as the dragon? Maybe in a cartoon caricature in The Guardian lampooning the horrible oddity of the two together, but as a compliment? I think Tony would have been media-savvy enough at least to have declined to lend his reputation to the freakish spectacle.
I have a suggestion to make. How about adding a 13th Labour of Putin, along the lines of ‘Vlad syphons more in assets from the Russian people than Bernie Madoff stole in his 40-year Ponzi scheme spree? Damn, Putin wins again!