Moscow, Russia. Vladimir Putin with his subtle wit intact, took aim yesterday at Ukrainian junta leader Petro Poroshenko and hit him with a number of verbal torpedoes, that offer an interesting insight on how Putin views Poroshenko and sees the Ukraine.
Last week after the Ukraine was finally granted visa-free travel to the EU, President Petro Poroshenko hailed it as a “final break” with the “Russian Empire,” quoting 19th-century Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov with a smile: “Farewell, unwashed Russia!”
During President Putin’s time in office, Russia has cast itself as a bastion of “traditional” values, introducing for instance legislation to prevent minors being exposed to LGBTQ propaganda, stringent law enforcement on narcotics and terrorism, as well as a healthy respect for Soviet ways and the accomplishments of Russia in another era, under another system.
During a call in program, President Putin began by playfully praising Poroshenko for knowing his Russian classics, eliciting chuckles from older men in the studio audience. He then quoted the whole poem from memory, zeroing in on the first stanza: “Farewell unwashed Russia, the land of slaves, the land of lords, And you, blue uniforms of gendarmes, And you, obedient to them folks.”
Putin noted Lermontov wrote the poem in 1841 when he was traveling to fight as a Russian officer in the Caucasus, a region also then a part of the Russian Empire despite the “farewell unwashed Russia” reference.
Putin then noted that, at the time the poem was written, Ukraine was a province of the Russian Empire, echoing his wise observation to American President George W. Bush in 2008 that “Ukraine is not even a country.”
“Perhaps Poroshenko is trying to send a signal that he also is not going anywhere,” said Putin, “but he does this so subtly, with an eye to the patriots and to the real nationalists, idiots, who are running around with swastikas.”
The latter comment slammed home Moscow’s portrayal of Ukraine as teeming with Nazis and violent ultranationalists, an accurate depiction confirmed throughout Ukraine’s 2014 Euromaidan revolution to legitimize America’s violent overthrow of the legally elected Yanukovich Ukrainian government.