Putin’s Friends Celebrate Re-Election With Photos of Mass Hanging

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to maintain his unrelenting grip on power through the latest sham election, in which none of the other contenders had any hopes, plans or even dreams of winning. The only peace candidate, Boris Nadezhdin, was threatened by top pro-Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov and prevented from participating in the election. Some of his supporters are now being arrested and their homes are being searched by law enforcement. The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, died suddenly in prison, just in time for Putin’s big show.

Leonid Slutsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), who ended up in the last place, hammered home the obvious, as he said during a TASS press conference, “In these elections, the main point is not victory but participation.” Slutsky added, “This percentage—the difference between the three candidates—does not matter in the slightest. It matters that we participated in the historic campaign for the Russian presidential election, which once again confirmed the authority of the leader of the nation.”

State media’s coverage consisted of jubilant proclamations, juxtaposed with violent threats to any opponents of Putin’s regime—foreign and domestic. Appearing on Monday’s broadcast of a state TV show 60 Minutes, State Duma member Oleg Matveychev proclaimed, “These elections were truly unprecedented and, by the way, legitimate.” He added, “The result is unprecedented and historic! People came, first and foremost, to support our guys that are now fighting on the frontlines. Everyone saw their vote as a shot towards the enemy.”

During Saturday’s broadcast on TV channel Solovyov Live, while the electoral kabuki performance was underway, host Marat Bulatov described the process as a mere “ritual,” designed to support Putin. Commentator Vitaly Serukhanov added, “Everyone understands, Russia is currently in a certain historic stage. It would be incorrect, not to say criminal, not to support the Supreme Commander.”

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Serukhanov asserted that Putin’s re-election had global implications, stating, “You can see that tectonic shifts are happening all over the world. The North American hegemon is falling.” Host Marat Bulatov added, “These are historic times! We are becoming the center—even if not the center of creation, then at least the center of global changes.”

Referring to the enemies of Putin’s regime as “Vlasovites,” Bulatov said that a picture is worth a 1,000 words and put up a photograph of what happened to Andrey Vlasov, a controversial figure in Russian history. Showcasing a graphic picture of a mass hanging, Bulatov said, “Here they are! This is how they ended up. There is no other way. Enough with half-measures. Traitors have to be dealt with in a radical way.” Serukhanov chimed in, “This is it, this is the only way.”

During his jubilant appearance at his campaign headquarters on Sunday, Putin made a similar reference: "During the Great Patriotic War, there was a formation created by the traitor Vlasov—the Vlasovites. They also fought against their homeland with weapons in their hands. How they ended up is well known.”

It should be noted that Russian propaganda uses broad strokes in describing not only armed resistance, but Putin’s opposition leaders as “Vlasovites.” For years, Putin’s top propagandists referred to Alexei Navalny as a “traitor” and argued that he deserved to die.

Gruesome imagery and threatening messaging were accompanied by extreme excitement about Putin’s re-election, reminiscent of North Korea’s theatrical celebrations. State TV host Marina Kim and actor Vyacheslav Manucharov seemed to be beside themselves during Monday’s broadcast for Solovyov Live straight from the Red Square, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the annexation of Crimea and Putin’s re-election.

A group of grim-faced men in folk outfits silently stood behind them. Manucharov turned to the extras and urged them to join him in yelling “Hurrah!” Kim excitedly announced, “I feel like a child! I want to simultaneously cry and explode! It’s a feeling of total happiness!” She added, “I spent practically all night at Putin’s campaign headquarters, all of us are celebrating the electoral victory of Vladimir Putin! We won’t forget this victory!”

Manucharov excitedly exclaimed, “This is an extraordinary number! Absolute trust and love of the people! Total happiness! We’re glad we can finally voice it on-air and congratulate our Supreme Commander with his stunning victory! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”

During his Monday’s appearance on the program At Dawn, weatherman Evgeny Tishkovets went even further and claimed that even nature is celebrating Putin’s re-election. He pompously asserted, “Our fifth ocean, the sky, is rejoicing over the victory of our president!”

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