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Monday, March 03, 2008

Мы говорим Медведев, подразумеваем — Путин
We Say Medvedev, We Mean Putin

Мы говорим Ленин, подразумеваем — партия,
Мы говорим партия, подразумеваем — Ленин.

We say Lenin, we mean the Party,
We say the Party, we mean Lenin.

In one form or another, this Soviet mantra has found its way back to the hearts and minds of Russians, fueled by skyrocketing energy prices. Absent these economic lubricants, the miracle of Russia’s “managed democracy” would be much harder to achieve. One shouldn’t forget the fate of the mismanaged petrodollar-dependent Soviet economy.

Below is a video from yesterday’s post-election concert-rally.

Soundtrack: Любэ "Давай за"

President-Elect Medvedev:
Hello Russia! Hello Moscow! Good evening, friends! Today is a special day. And despite this unpleasant snow falling from the sky, it is still a special day in our country’s life. We are choosing a course of development for a term — for quite a long term — into the future. And we have a chance to develop ourselves the way we’ve been developing ourselves during the last years — to strengthen stability, to improve the quality of life, and to move forward with the plan we’ve been using all these years. And I’m sure that it is this road we should take. We have every chance for it. And today we had elections — elections in which you participated. I wanted to thank everyone who voted for me.

People: Hurray!

I wanted to thank everyone who voted for other candidates. For together we make up almost two-thirds of this country’s population. Which means we care about her future. Which means we can stay the course that President Putin set forth. And I’m sure that we have every chance for it. Together, we will keep moving on. Together, we will win. Hurray!

People: Putin! Putin! Putin!

Outgoing President/Incoming Prime Minister Putin: Freezing up, aren’t you? Will you give one minute? The elections of the president of the Russian Federation have concluded. And our candidate Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is leading the score by a convincing margin.

People: Hurray!

It’s you I want to thank as well. I thank all citizens of Russia who came to the polling stations today. It means that we live in a democratic state, and that our civil society is becoming efficient, responsible, and active. The presidential and parliamentary elections were held in strict accordance with the Constitution of our country and within time frames stipulated by the law. I congratulate Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, and I wish him good luck!

People: Hurray!

Putin: But this kind of victory makes a lot of demands.

People: Putin! Putin! Putin!

Putin: This victory will guarantee… Exactly! It will guarantee that the course that we’ve chosen — the successful course that together we’ve stayed during the last eight years — will be continued.

People: Hurray!

I also want to thank all the candidates, who have weathered the presidential race with dignity. But I want to make this reminder: The elections are over. And I very much hope that the campaign frenzy will be put behind, and that those who truly love our Russia will join forces in their efforts for the benefit of the citizens of our great Motherland.

People: Hurray!

Putin: Thank you all!
Medvedev: Thank you! Thank you!

People: Putin! Putin! Putin! Go, Russia! Go, Russia! Go, Russia!

My favorite part is “It’s you I want to thank as well.” Gives credit where credit is due, doesn’t it?

Some analysts and Western politicians view Medvedev as Putin’s softer alter ego — a more liberal, more tech-savvy, more Western-friendly type of guy.

Some also believe Putin’s premiership will result in a redistribution of power. Yet others say Putin will run for president again, which the Russian Constitution allows him to dо after a one-term break from the presidency. Well, let’s see. Let's see how the Medvedev-Putin tandem works.

Ukrainians remember Medvedev as the protocol-conscious guy who couldn't refuse Yanukovych’s offer of candy at a parade in Kyiv on October 28, 2004, on the eve of the first round of the presidential election. In the political hierarchy of 2004, Yanukovych was Ukraine’s PM while Medvedev was Putin's Chief of Staff. As head of the state and as a former KGB agent, Putin obviously had a different food etiquette in mind.

Putin flew in to Kyiv’s under the pretext of celebrating the city’s liberation from the Nazis — normally celebrated on November 6. His endorsement voyage hardly added to Yanukovych’s rating. In the first round of the election, the Central Election Commission would give the victory to Yushchenko, after weeks of stalling. The rest is history.

One thing the Kremlin has learned is the tradition of mixing and mingling with the masses after the election.

What was missing is a song like "Два сокола" (“Two Falcons”), a lyrical ballad of Lenin’s succession by Stalin, written in 1948. Of course, one cannot compare Russia’s new president to Stalin. That said, the song pretty much captures the spirit of “managed democracy.” I took the liberty of clumsily translating three key verses of that song:

Куплет 1
На дубу зеленом,

Да над тем простором
Два сокола ясных
Вели разговоры.

Куплет 2
А соколов этих

Люди все узнали:
Первый сокол - Ленин
Второй сокол - Сталин.

Куплет 4
Ой как первый сокол
Со вторым прощался,
Он с предсмертным словом
К другу обращался.

Куплет 5
Сокол ты мой сизый,
Час пришел расстаться,
Все труды, заботы
На тебя ложатся.

Куплет 6
А другой ответил:
Позабудь тревоги,
Мы тебе клянемся -
Не свернем с дороги!

Куплет 7
И сдержал он клятву,

Клятву боевую.
Сделал он счастливой
Всю страну родную!

Verse 1
On a green oak
And above that plain
There were two white falcons
Having a talk

Verse 2
And those two white falcons
The people recognized them
The first one was Lenin
The second one was Stalin

Verse 4
When the first falcon
Parted with the second one
With a death note
He addressed his friend

Verse 5
My dear friend falcon
It's time we should be parted
All my duties and worries
Will be yours to take care of

Verse 6
And the second one replied
Don't you worry
We swear to you
We will not go astray

Verse 7
And he kept his promise
Kept his promise fully
Made his country happy
The whole country, truly!

Video uploaded from:

Bonus tracks (in Russian):

"Who Wants to Be President"

Poyushchiye Vmeste "Takogo Kak Putin"

English version: "You Must Be Like Putin"


elmer said...

Well, since Putin and Medvedev seemed almost to be walking hand-in-hand to the stage for their brief post-sham-election appearance, I figured that this song from a little bit back would be more appropriate:

Nothing's gonna stop us now

I see a paradise
This world that I found
Is too good to be true

Let the world around us
Fall apart
Maybe we can make it
If we're heart-to-heart

We can build this thing together

I'm so glad I found you
I'm not gonna lose you

Let 'em say they're crazy
What do they know

pumpernickel said...


I will be in Kyiv next week. Any suggestions for things to do? I have been to Kyiv 3-4 times before...


Taras said...

Elmer, I’ve heard “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” quite a few times, and I love it:)!

Thank you for helping me rediscover it! I’m a sucker for the 80s and 90s.

Keep bringing great music!

In a funny sense, seeing Medvedev and Putin on the Kremlin catwalk got me singing “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men:

Although we’ve come to the end of the road
Still I can’t let you go
It’s unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you

Wow! And where have you been in Kyiv, Pumpernickel?:) What sights have you already seen?

To tell you the truth, there’s not much to see here in the muddy March, from my point of view.

The best times of the year to see Kyiv are the last weekend of May and August 24. That’s when we celebrate Kyiv Day and Independence Day, respectively. That's when whole place is green and teeming with people.

Well, if you catch good weather, your visit may turn out to be not so bad:)

elmer said...

Taras, I keep seeing Putin and Medvedev walking almost hand-in-hand to the extremely short post-election rally.

So here's another song for the new happy couple:

Hold Me, Thrill Me

"They told me - be sensible with your new love,
Don't be fooled thinking this is the last you'll find
But they never stood in the dark with you, love
When you take me in your arms and drive me slowly out of my mind"

elmer said...

On another note, maybe Putin and Medvedev could use a little salsa about libre and libertad:

Spanish version -

English version -

And one by Nat King Cole:

Taras said...

Thank you, Elmer! I’ve heard all of them:) Watching these videos makes me forget most of Ukrainian politics:)

I love comparing the original version to the English one. My compilation would be:

Otro Día Más Sin Verte
Just Another Day

Pour Que Tu M’Aimes Encore
If That’s What It Takes

pumpernickel said...

Hi Tarase:
I have been to Pecherskaya Lavra, Sviata Sofia, St. Mikchaelivsk, ST Volodymyr Cathedral, Andriyivsky, Maidan, etc. I have mostly seen the downtown areas and some "touristy stuff" like the Motherland statue, Rada, Khreschatyk.

Thanks for any suggestions.


Taras said...

You’ve covered all the major bases:)

Revisiting some of those sights — like Adriyivsky Uzviz, Maidan, Mykhailivsky Sobor, Sofia — would be cool.

If you were to come here, say, in May, I would strongly recommend the Botanic Garden. I would also suggest that you pay a visit to Sofiyivka Park in the neighboring oblast of Cherkasy. These are must-see places.

To get a majestic view of the Dnipro and right-bank Kyiv, try Trukhaniv Island and/or Hydropark.

Btw, today is a beautiful sunny day in Kyiv. I hope it will remain that way while you’re here:)

pumpernickel said...

Thanks Tarase:

I hope to escape Ottawa. We had 30 cm of snow yesterday and are expecting another 30-50 cm on Saturday. I am supposed to be flying out on Sunday evening...


Taras said...

30-50 cm of snow? We haven’t had such winters since I don’t know when.

I came back to Kyiv yesterday, and I assume you’re already here. Crappy weather, isn’t it:)?