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Putin’s Jacques Cousteau Stunt

jacquescousteau073109.jpgI assume that it is Vladislav Surkov who must be in charge of constantly coming up with new public media stunts for Vladimir Putin to build upon his cult of personality.  The judo demonstrations, the skiing, the topless fishing trip, the Siberian tiger hunt, the sudden excellence in the arts … all building upon one another in degrees of absurdity.

Two questions:  is the latest Jacques Cousteau-like stunt, which has Putin submarine diving in Lake Baikal looking for gas crystals, a sign that they’ve lost the plot?  Or more importantly, does the return of ridiculous media performances mean that Putin is already on the campaign trail?  Thankfully for the motherland, the minisub appears to be blessed with better maintainence than was the Kursk, but still … one wonders where they will go from here.

From Reuters:

Before locking down the hatches on the Mir-2 submersible, Putin was shown a specimen which bubbled under water.

“You can touch it. There are very few people who have held hydrates in their hand, even fewer Baikal hydrates,” Robert Nigmatullin, head of the Oceanology Institute, told the prime minister. “You can set it on fire as well, it will burn.”

“Let’s not set it on fire today,” Putin, 56, said with a smile before getting into the submersible, which then submerged below the waves of the world’s oldest lake.