Aleksandr Pochkov (aka 'top_lap') & Vladimir Putin
The wild fires catastrophe has made this first week in August rather unpleasant for many in Russia. The death toll climbed to fifty people today, and more are likely to perish before the week’s end. Russia’s agriculture production is so threatened that the government is allegedly planning to ban grain exports. Hundreds of homes have burned to the ground and the ecological damage will last for decades to come.
In the whirlwind of all this destruction, a curious little episode emerged between Aleksei Venediktov (chief editor of Ekho Moskvy), an anonymous Internet-user, and Vladimir Putin himself.
A few days ago, Venediktov passed along to Putin an unsigned obscenity-filled open letter from a resident of the Tverskaia Oblast’ (since unmasked as Aleksandr Pochkov) criticizing the government response to the fires. It’s unclear why, but Putin actually responded to the anonymous letter — personally.
I’m sure many will read Putin’s response as another installment in his epic book of cool, but I happen to think this is only a plus for Vova insomuch as he wrote back at all. (If only we could all have our leaders for pen pals.) The actual content of his letter — its sarcasm and concluding offer to ‘return the fire alarm bell’ — seems to make light of a pretty serious problem, namely the embarrassing poverty of the Russian countryside. I enjoy the regular Putin wisecrack about American imperialism, but it seems like he should have left this one alone. At any rate, this is at least proof that the Kremlin’s top dog is paying attention.
As it turns out, Mr. Pochkov, aka “top_lap” on LiveJournal, is a 28-year-old Muscovite whose mother is rather ashamed that her son caused this whole scandal. (She pleaded with reporters not to make fun of him.) If that doesn’t discredit Putin’s ‘outreach effort’ enough, Pochkov also told Komsolmol’skaia Pravda that he plans to become president one day. He’s obviously a man of big ideas.
Read my full translation of the original exchange for yourself: Continue reading ‘The Tale of How Aleksandr Pochkov Quarreled with Vladimir Vladimirovich’ »