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Putin’s Potty Humor

Putin072610.jpgIn the Huffington Post this weekend, Simon Shuster takes a look at the anatomy of Putin’s populism. Apparently, Putin told a pee joke during his visit to a beach in the town of Chelyabinsk on Friday:

Upon noticing that there were no public toilets around, the prime minister remembered a joke. “Greggie, go take a swim,” a mother yells. “Mama, why? I don’t know how to swim, and I don’t yet need to pee.” He told this joke later that day at a conference with city’s mayor, and then he changed his tone and added, “It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.”

“Even if this is a wild beach, city officials could atleast concern themselves with the basics,” he said. “It’s a hot summer,and we just need to help people get some normal rest. I mean come on,these are serious things, and if the municipal authorities just pay alittle attention to what is their direct professional responsibility,people will notice and will be grateful. Besides, it would costpractically nothing.”

That same night, workers with dump trucksbrought tons of fresh sand, raked it like a Japanese garden and put upbeach umbrellas and lounge chairs. “The locals didn’t recognize theirplace of leisure when they arrived the next morning,” the NTV newsnetwork reported on Saturday.

The situation perfectly illustrates Putin’s modus operandi in winning over the public, Shuster argues:

Findan issue that annoys a lot of people, find somebody to blame for it,and lace into him, publicly and with some classic village wit. Show onstate television how the problem gets fixed.

(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)