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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Disappearing Putin GQ Article

My aunt is in town from Russia for a week or so. I spent sometime with her and my mom, her sister, over the weekend. She told me that she and her friends are all buzzing over an article in GQ Magazine that was less than flattering toward Vladimir Putin. The article is supposed to be scathing but that's not why many of her friends were buzzing.

The reason they were buzzing is because no one can read it. The article is not available in the Russian version GQ and it's not available in the on line version of GQ either. So, no one in Russia can read this article. In fact, I found a link to the article but this is from the web site, Gawker. Yet, Gawker actually got the hard copy of the article and then readers translated the article themselves.

По просьбе Трепашкина, наша первая встреча состоялась в переполненном кафе
в центре Москвы. Сначал появился один из его помощников, а потом, через двадцать минут, прибыл сам Трепашкин в сопровождении кого-то наподобие телохранителя, мускулистого коротко остриженного молодого человека с непроницаемым взглядом.

Трепашкин оказался крепко сложен, хоть и невысок - он всю жизнь занимался всевозможными боевыми искусствами. Он был очень видным, несмотря навозраст в 51 год. Но наиболее всего привлекала внимание его никогда не исчезавшая улыбка. Благодаря ей он немедленно располагал собеседника, вызывая к себе дружелюбие, хотя я мог себе представить, как в дни его работы в КГБ у сидящих с другой стороны стола для допросов из-за этой улыбки стыла кровь.


So, in fact, GQ is doing everything it can to make sure that Russians don't read this rather unflattering article. My aunt broke down the media like this. On television, the state owns the most popular station. The next most popular station is pro Putin. The stations that represent those that are critical represent the minority. The newspapers and radio have roughly the same dynamic. Only on the internet is there a vibrant variety of critical Putin articles. Yet, my aunt told me that only 10% of the population has consistent access to the internet. It is nearly non existent in rural areas of Russia.

So, such an article like the one written in GQ in their September edition is a minority in Russia. This article is scathing. It traces the inner story of the rise of Putin to political power and it spares no one. This would simply be shocking if it were unleashed on the larger Russian public. Of course, that hasn't happened just yet. I suspect the inside story on that might even be juicier than the inside story the GQ story itself rolls out.

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