On hitting the bottom

On July 27, when protesters were out in the streets in Moscow, Putin was in St. Petersburg, where a navy parade was due the next day. He spent his time well, descending to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland in a submersible. “Putin hits the bottom” must have been the most common reaction to his latest adventure.

A Putin-worshiping journo tweeted a few pictures of the president in the batiskaf, prompting viral bouts of ridicule on the social media. The images can be found on this site, among others (caution: tabloid style, content and advertising).

Obviously, there’s an optical distortion involved that does no favors to the men in the submersible, but it’s also obvious that Putin isn’t aging well, never having been a good-looking man in the first place.  At least one commenter noted a certain similarity between the president and the central character of Gogol’s The Overcoat as depicted by Yuri Norstein in his animation masterpiece. (More pictures can be found by googling in Russian.)

Time, as always, is on the side of the young, but we’ve seen two examples of extraordinary political longevity in the 2010s, and neither is particularly encouraging: Mugabe and Mahathir.

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