Blog Post Writes YOU

It’s not easy being Comrade Bear.  Your principal adversary gets to watch his navy’s elite commandos gun down the world’s most-wanted terrorist on nightvision video via realtime satellite uplink from the other side of the globe, but what does Vladimir Putin get?   He gets Lada.   Adding insult to injury, Russian automotive technology then lives up to its reputation while the media watches.

Putin confidently got into the driving seat of the new Lada Granta for a testdrive with Avtovaz’s top management. The atmosphere changed however when Putin turned the keys in the ignition and the vehicle’s engine failed to start. And then again. And again. And again.  Only on the fifth attempt and after a few helping words from Avtovaz chief executive Igor Komarov in the passenger seat did Putin manage to roar finally off into the distance.

That Bear-in-the-headlights look ...

Putin [later] explained that he was unaware that the new model had an electronically-actuated accelerator pedal and he did not need to press too hard.

The Lada’s manufacturer, AvtoVaz, is the largest carmaker in Russia.   Renault has a 25 percent stake in the company, so a slightly upscale model of the Lada Granta (costing 250,000 rubles) will be offered with a Renault engine and a Nissan automatic transmission.   But in a country as big as Russia, it’s size that really matters:

“Look how big the trunk is, it’s so big you could get two sacks of potatoes in there,” [Putin] said in typical earthy style.

Brings back memories ...

With a bit of effort, you could probably fit the corpses of one or two beefy Russian auto executives in there [maybe not in one piece, though].   The sacks of potatoes can go on the back seat.   It’s a four-door sedan, after all.

The Road to Damascus

There’s a silver lining in every cloud, as the saying goes.   So although mundane matters may not be going Comrade Bear’s way, he might instead be reaping benefits on the spiritual plane of existence.   A few weeks ago, Putin himself invoked the spirit of St. Francis, but …

A founder of a religious cult glorifying Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that the powerful premier is the reincarnation of Saint Paul.  The sect, founded by Mother Fotinya, is based in Bolshaya Elnya village in Nizhny Novgorod region.

Certain career parallels appeared too obvious to ignore.   Here are two versions of Mother Fotinya’s translated remarks.   Let the reader decide which better suits the “spirit” of the story:

“According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first,” [Fotiyna said].  “In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the holy spirit, and just like the apostle, he started heading his flock,” she said.

“According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle used to be a warlord and the fierce persecutor of Christians, and then he began preaching the Gospel. Putin also was not a saint during his service in the KGB. But when he became president, the Holy Ghost descended on him,” Fotinya was quoted as saying.

Putin’s spokesman earned every kopeck of his pay as he adroitly walked a fine line in commenting about the sect:

“This is the first I’ve heard of such a religious group,” Dmitry Peskov said.  “It is impressive that they think so highly of the prime minister’s work,” he added.
“But I would like to recall another of the ten commandments: thou shalt not worship false idols,” Peskov said.

the perfect angle ...

Lest anyone prematurely conclude that all this adulation might overcome Comrade Bear’s natural modesty and unduly inflate his ego, let’s keep things in perspective:

One of the most well-known sects in Russia has its base near the Siberian town of Abakan, where thousands of people, both Russian and foreign, worship a former provincial traffic policeman, Sergei Torop, as the second coming of Christ.

Can I get an “Amen”?

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