Russia Has Surpassed the Soviet Union: I Would Only Learn German Because Putin Spoke It
February 24, 2017
Russian TV channels were dominated by the February 23 holiday yesterday. The topic of war and patriotism was off the scale at a concert held to mark the holiday, as broacast on Channel One.
One girl recited a poem in the style of Mayakovsky, which ended as follows: “And though I were an old man getting on in years, really, in fact, basically, I would learn to speak German only because Putin had spoken it.”
The audience applauded, of course, and the camera switched to a shot of VVP and Defense Minister Shoigu, seated in the first row. They didn’t smile, but looked on seriously. Shoigu said something to Putin.
I was a Young Pioneer during the Brezhnev era. We recited lots of poems with a patriotic filling, and if they mentioned the names of Soviet leaders, those leaders were dead. I am talking about Lenin. At the time, there were no panegyric verses about the then-General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Words of gratitude were spoken, and there were slogans, but children, at least at my school, did not memorize anything of the sort. Odes to the living leader of the country were composed and declaimed only under Stalin. The parallels are obvious. And they say that insanity flourished in the Soviet Union.
I’ll take another potshot at this ecstatic orgy. How do you like the idea of building a mock-up of the Reichstag, in Patriot Park in Kubinka, for the Yunarmiya kids to storm? As Shoigu noted, they would thus have “a specific location to storm, not just any old place.” We’re talking about the same Yunarmiya kids who performed the doggerel about Putin. I am sure they fought it amongst themselves over how who would get to recite the punchline about the country’s biggest VIP. It was the girl who gets straight A’s at school and whose comportment is impeccable.
I’m not against promoting love for one’s country. But this business about German and Putin is clearly overkill. By the way, it used to be a joke. Now it’s a patriotic poem. The times have changed.
Holiday Concert in Celebration of Defender of the Fatherland Day, 23 February 2017, in its entirety. Originally broadcast on Channel One in Russia
Translated by the Russian Reader