Aluminum cucumbers Grigory Pasko, journalist In the September 19 issue of the newspaper «Moskovsky komsomolets» is printed an article «And on the seacoast by the bay Putin walks…» Sub-heading – «At the economic forum in Sochi they acquainted the premier with a mermaid». [Even the most illiterate Russian would instantly recognize these as references to «Ruslan and Ludmila», an epic fairy tale in verse written by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, universally lauded as the greatest Russian who ever lived: the tale opens on a seacoast by a bay, with a talking cat walking around an oak tree to which it is chained, and a mermaid perching improbably on one of the tree’s branches. It does get better…—Trans.] What the article speaks of is that after his speech at the forum Putin set off to inspect stands with models of various construction investment projects. The author precisely describes the act of the passing of the «tsar» surrounded by his retinue along the row of models and people. The retinue servilely clarifies where is whose model and who is standing behind it. The «tsar» nods the head and benevolently hears everyone out. Here’s how Putin’s encounter with Kadyrov is described.
«Having noticed the premier, the president of Chechnya broadly smiled, quickly took a step in his direction and, in my opinion, barely restrained himself from clutching the guest in embraces. “We’ve got 28 projects. In the main machine-building and residential”, — related Kadyrov, slowly leading the premier to a model of a residential micro-district in Grozny. No sooner had Putin approached it than the president of Chechnya said: “If there will be your support, then we will raise the economy of the republic. We have already restored the constitutional order”… “And Grozny you’ve restored”, — picked up VVP. “What is needed, as usual, is your magic word. After all, all that has been done, — this is thanks to you”, — Kadyrov smiled even more broadly and with a nod pointed to the model. He was asking, that is, for money. “You’re doing everything pretty well on your own”, — responded the premier. And this, of course, was not at all that magic word that the president of Chechnya had so ardently awaited…»This whole scene very precisely reflects the real state of the economy of the regions of Russia. Whoever is wished well in Moscow by Putin or maybe by someone else, for example some Sechin or other, those get money from the center. And whoever is not in a position to draw the attention of the little tsars to themselves – those live in poverty.A war happened – and when the party ended money suddenly started flowing into South Ossetia. But just ask Russians if they know how people live in NORTH Ossetia [part of the Russian Federation—Trans.]? Or in Amur Oblast? I am positive that they don’t know. Because nobody’s talking about them and nobody’s showing them on the boob tube, nowhere is it being reported that these other 80 regions have gotten even a kopeck from Moscow.But then the quick and nimble Kadyrovs, speculating first on «Chechen terrorism», and now on the «restoration of Chechnya», or the Tkachevs with their «Olympic construction projects of the century», are scooping up the money of all of Russia with a shovel. Sitting pretty? You bet! Because this is how the power created by Putin and his team works.But let’s get back to the article in «MK». Moving on, the journalist describes such a scene. «They led the Russian premier for a long time through the exposition and at long last they took him into a space where the gaze of the journalists and official persons zeroed in on а signboard: “Seacoast by the bay. Rostov Oblast—opportunities as fabulous as in a fairy tale”. “Note that there’s a girl in there”, — a voice next to me could be heard. This voice belonged to Sergey Ivanov… “Well I’ll be…”, — exhaled Putin. …The mermaid turned out to be not a skilfully crafted feminine figure, but a very real girl, in the flesh. She had, like any self-respecting mermaid should, a tail. But what was the most striking of all was her eyes: protruding, pleading. It seems the mermaid had every intention of sinking down to the bottom of the sea. “And can she stay long that way?” — asked the journalists of governor of Rostov Oblast Chuba. “Up to two and a half minutes. This is a synchronist [a synchronized swimmer—Trans.]. There’s two of them here. One relieves the other.” The one who had had the good fortune to see Putin, in my opinion, held on longer than two and a half minutes. If the premier, who did not know all these nuances, had stood around by the aquarium some time more, then in relation to the girl it may have been completely proper to have used the expression: “To see Putin and to die”.…The idol of Soviet pop youth, the singer Viktor Tsoi in the 90s sang «And I’m planting aluminum cucumbers on a canvas field…» The fact is that in the years of stagnation the whole country was planting these cucumbers: falsehood penetrated all the pores of life. The realities of life itself were plastered over with falsehoods. What happened then – is known: the USSR collapsed, fell apart. Life proved unable to withstand total falsehood.The times of the aluminum cucumbers have returned under comrade Putin. They are showing him on canvas fields their future supposedly fantastic harvests (all these projects, models, doublings and triplings of GDP, which then are not realized or collapse within a year of exploitation), and he is satisfied. He – is the tsar. Before him they grovel. They humor him. And nobody, not one, will say: comrade Putin, your system is built of smoke and mirrors, of falsehood, and that’s why it’s inefficient, evanescent, on the decline… And the financial crisis, by the way, showed the whole decline specifically of the Putinite economy (the USA had nothing to do with it).But there are no brave people like that. Brave people are either locked up behind bars (Khodorkovsky had been brave enough to say that in Putin’s entourage they’re stealing), or killed (soon will be the anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya).… But Putin couldn’t care less about the cucumbers – to all appearances, the mermaid seems to have caught his eye.