Vladimir Putin attached great importance to his meeting with young people in Sochi. The performance was carefully prepared and covered. It was held in late July at the education center for gifted children — one of the modern buildings built for the Sochi Olympics. Putin relaxed surrounded by thousands of children and adolescents. The audience is carefully selected: they were young scientists, trustworthy actors, talented mathematicians, winners of school Olympiads in different subjects and athletes.
The children began to ask the President questions, for example, about the Internet, but it turned out that he knows nothing about social networks, because it does not use them. “What Nicky, why they are needed? If a person is doing something worthy and interesting than he can be proud of, why hide behind aliases?” — he was surprised. The young guests were arguing about the digital video recording formats, but Putin remained at the stage of VHS tapes. Under a hail of questions on topics he does not understand, the President confused.
Autumn of the Patriarch
When in March Russia was a wave of protests, the Kremlin, under the personal direction of the President, began feverishly to discuss how to ingratiate himself with the young Russians, after all, the streets are mostly pupils and students. “Revolt of the youth has led the Kremlin to the confusion, I myself two years ago believed, the young Russian is the most Pro-Putin social group — says Director of the Analytical center of Yuri Levada sociologist Lev Gudkov. — In the spring and summer, something snapped, it was found that teenagers no longer believe Putin’s authority.”
In Sochi, he tried to change the situation but just made it worse. “The meeting was a PR disaster. Putin wanted to appear to understand the youth with the Patriarch, and he turned out to be very far from the younger generation, he does not know what it lives,” says journalist Mikhail Zygar — the author of a book about the Kremlin power elite.
The young people asked Putin, when they will be able to meet at Sirius with their peers from abroad, and he talked about the consolidation of the people, the heroism of the heroes of the great Patriotic war and patriotism.
“He was tired of the power and, perhaps, cannot find in themselves enough energy to be able to play in front of the youth the role of the modern leader — says a former chief editor of the Russian Newsweek journalist Leonid Parfenov. — Perhaps — he adds — we will see the real Putin: yearning for the Soviet Union, and divorced from reality”.
Meanwhile, the Russian leader decided to catch up: he announced that he will appear in Sochi at the international youth festival which will be held in October. Then he will be able to speak not only to young Russians. “I am sure that Putin is able to prepare well for the next meetings. He will learn how to use Facebook and put on another mask of a technocrat who looks to the future,” suggests Mikhail Zygar, wondering if it will work the President has to convincingly play this role.
Russian matryoshka is a wooden doll, inside which are hidden like her figures of a smaller size. In Moscow shops with Souvenirs for tourists to see dolls not only in the traditional style, but also with portraits of Soviet and Russian leaders. First Lenin, then Stalin, and so on down to Putin. There are dolls representing only Putin: first the suit, then bare-chested and wearing sunglasses, a leather biker jacket and military uniform. The latest doll is the white-haired President, hung with medals as Leonid Brezhnev.
“Metamorphosis — a key word for Putin’s career. He deceived the Russians and the whole world, but the results were same”, says an employee of the Carnegie Moscow center Tatiana Stanovaya. It all started with the surprise and the famous question “Who is Mr. Putin?”, which asked on the cover of its weekly magazine Time, when Putin in 2000 became President.
At that moment, most Western politicians and the media breathed a sigh of relief: there is finally a young and liberal Russian leader. The Russians emphasized that this sober man with a resolute character. It was very different from its predecessor — the sick and elderly Boris Yeltsin: fly a fighter plane su-27, judo, different light footed and athletic figure. “Russians love Putin, and he believed it and for two presidential terms, reinforcing the image of a macho, forgoing the image of a liberal technocrat, who “sold” in the West”, — says Mikhail Zygar. A shadow on the liberal way threw the events such as the bloody war in Chechnya and the tragedy of the submarine “Kursk”.
© RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin | go to fotobanka trip of Vladimir Putin in the Central Federal district of the Russian Federation
The Russian President tried to save the image of the modern liberal on the program Larry king (Larry King). On the question of disaster, he replied with a careless smile: “It sank.” The West saw no liberal, and an experienced KGB officer, subordinate to which are just tools. “Metamorphosis of Putin’s image never happened because he was always used to a new role with a purpose, although perhaps it is even and amused,” explains Zygar.
In 2008, when Putin agreed to become Prime Minister and send to the Kremlin of Dmitry Medvedev, he put on the mask of a serious master and began to travel around the country, talking with the working people. At the same time he tried to mitigate his statements addressed to the West, and to appear as a responsible leader of a powerful nation. But the world he did not believe.
In 2007, while still President, Putin outlined his vision of the world order at the conference in Munich, referring to the confrontational rhetoric. A year later, Russia attacked Georgia. Putin had already seen not a policy belonging to the Western world, as dangerous and unpredictable of the Eastern satrapies. “In 2012, when Putin returned to the Kremlin, he was different: he did not believe anyone in the West and everywhere saw a conspiracy, says Zygar. — He returned the Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, focused on helping to restore the country’s position as a superpower.”
The President dealt with the street protests and ceased to pretend that in Russia there is a democracy, and at the same time vigorously engaged in the restoration of its influence abroad. When, in 2013, in Ukraine, a riot broke out against the Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, he did not idly watch as Moscow is losing another country, and attacked. He left the army in Ukraine and seized the Crimea. Then the Russian military went to Syria.
Putin spoke with the soldiers and talked a lot about the war. “He was the leader of the wartime” — sums up Leonid Parfyonov. However, this image began to interfere with the President: the world does not want to communicate with the chief, and he continues to dream of returning to the international court. In addition, are tired of war by Russians, so Putin is going through another metamorphosis, to meet their expectations.
Adjustment of image
Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak sympathetic to the opposition, said that Putin regularly makes Botox injections and uses the services of plastic surgeons. “He was for some time lost all of Russia starts to worry, well with the President, and then he shows up with a changed face, — said Sobchak. If it’s rounded at the same pace, soon it will resemble Nikita Khrushchev,” she adds.
Another transformation of Putin is due, however, not operations, he started doing a few years ago. “Maybe Putin is abusing the Botox, but he had already ceased to pretend to be forever young macho and began to play the role of a Mature public Manager and a strong leader. Caring wise king is his new image and the concept of Kremlin spin doctors”, — says Mikhail Zygar.
Three weeks ago Vladimir Putin visited Lyudmila Alexeyeva. The head of the Moscow Helsinki group, the former dissident and well-known human rights activist turned 90 years old. The situation looked strange, as until now human rights defenders from Putin got only criticism. This time he decided to show that he respects former dissidents and their role in Russian history.
After the meeting, the network appeared the video, which Alexeeva kissing the hands of Putin. Later, the human rights activist said that it was nothing like this. The video was a fake, however, comments from the President nor from the press service of the Kremlin has not followed. “Of course, Putin wants the opposition kissed his hand — ironically journalist Oleg Kashin. — He bronzoviy turns into a living monument, and it certainly looks cartoonish”.
In an interview Putin gave recently, the American Director Oliver stone, the President first admitted that he had a grandson. What emotions he experienced, in saying that, the audience did not see: the conversation took place at the hockey arena, and the President was wearing a helmet. However, on this subject, it is no longer covered. Once he said, that, in principle, have retired. Putin, indeed, has topped the Russian retirement age is 60 years. Such recognition from a man who recently rode bare-chested, they sound amazing.
“Putin is not only aging physically, which is natural, but also mentally and intellectually. And this is a political problem, — says Tatiana Stanovaya. — The Kremlin is using PR techniques trying to convince the Russians that they need it is Putin, what they see on TV. But how long will they be willing to buy this product?”