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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Russian fairy tales

"Дед Мороз"/"Father Frost"
According to a recent poll, one Russian woman out of five ‘definitely would’ or ‘would probably’ marry Vladimir Putin. What this says about polls, Putin, Russian politics, Russian women, or politics and women everywhere, I am not quite sure – probably that in today’s Russia political propaganda has a stronger impact than what Hélène Landemore calls “democratic reason,” i.e. “a certain kind of distributed collective intelligence specific to democratic politics.”1 My apologies for the pun, but the Russian president has spent more time posing topless for cameras than defending the naked truth about, say, Chechnya, electoral fraud, or the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya. On Sunday, he said that the Pussy Riot members “got what they asked for” and that “the court’s decision was right” (so much for the separation of powers.) The three women were sentenced to two years in prison after their anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral.2
Literary connections fail me here. Maybe “Cinderella” with all the girls lining up in the hope the Prince will marry them? Or “The Wolf and the Seven Kids,” with Vladimir Putin as the ravenous wolf and Pussy Riot as the slaughtered lambs? Obviously things are not that simple. Although there probably was voting fraud, Putin did not win through it – millions of people voted for him for a reason. Many say this was a vote for stability. However, whether economic stability will last with the UE threatening to tackle Gazprom monopoly remains to be seen. Ironically, stability is a key concept throughout Vladimir Propp’s classic analysis of Russian fairy tales. Putin fits into the stable, reassuring archetype of the king providing order and protecting his realm. And if you want to know more about Russian fairy tales (literary, not political), follow the link to a very good introduction with beautiful illustrations:

2.        see the video on

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