Has Russia Become Humorless?

kukly010509.jpgEverybody is writing about this one little “satire” cartoon which aired on New Year’s in Russia, and trying to figure out if it is meaningful or not.  Given that the cartoon of a singing and dancing diarchy contained no real political commentary of substance, I would have to agree with the uncharacteristically cynical comment from Fyodor Lukyanov below from an interview in the Financial Times

As Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a foreign policy magazine, says: “This show means nothing. It’s a way to make all the journalists and analysts discuss it for hours, days and weeks, while not making any changes in substance. This is the extent of our liberalisation.”

Television remains the authorities’ best means for controlling opinion. Unlike in China, Russia’s authoritarian rulers permit considerable freedom in the internet and some in the printed word. But television is different – and will remain so.

This is like the entertainment arm of the state’s managed opposition – except it’s pretty hard to fake something which by definition is already fake, right?  Is it really such a tremendous threat to the powers that be in the Kremlin to consider allowing real satire, welcoming back the likes of Viktor Shenderovich and Kukly? 

It’s just so disappointing to watch Russia become so humorless.