Russian mockery of President Obama has taken a bizarre turn. The newly elected Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, has tweeted (in Russian) a photoshopped image of Barack Obama in a Russian military uniform, implying that our president’s behavior can be explained by his purported status as a deep cover Russian agent.
Интересно, после проведения успешной компании по возвращению Крыма, Барак получит полковника? pic.twitter.com/GYhW2jF4zA— Сергей Аксенов (@sergyaksenov) March 17, 2014
Oleg Atbashian of The People’s Cube, a former Soviet propagandist who fled to the West, has a fascinating post explaining what is going on here.
Such a jab could have easily come from conservative jokesters in the U.S., as a way to vent their bitterness over Obama's inept handling of international affairs and squandering America's standing in the world. It could have also come from those Russians and Ukrainians who are opposed to Putin's imperial policies. But why would a pro-Russian separatist with a shady past, who is himself very likely working on orders from Moscow, out his alleged "colleague"?
As someone who frequents the Russian-language side of the blogosphere, let me explain.
The Crimean PM's question wasn't a standalone joke, but rather a punch line to an earlier anonymous joke with a Photoshopped picture of Barack Obama, seen on various Russian websites and forums since he first became president.
The picture was a mock-up of a KGB personnel file with a photo of Obama wearing the uniform of a KGB lieutenant with three stars on blue epaulettes. The name on the card is listed as Boris Huseinovich Obamov, a spy and saboteur, born in Uzbekistan and of Uzbek ethnicity, a member of United Russia Party, recruited by Vladimir Putin in 1981, currently without a permanent address and working undercover as the U.S. President. The agent's listed code name, The White One, is likely funnier in Russia than it is in America, where it comes off as overtly racist.
The "updated" picture Tweeted by the Crimean PM clearly shows two stripes and two stars across the blue epaulettes, corresponding to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the same organization - one step away from colonel. The KGB has been since renamed into FSB, and those are also the letters on his shoulder patch with the Russian flag.
In summary, Aksyonov's joke is hardly political satire or commentary on Obama's specific actions, but rather blatant mockery in the general direction of the American President.
The Crimean PM is not alone, as mocking Obama by addressing him as a "comrade" seems to be the latest gag among Russian politicians today, who are treating their own communist past as a joke while trying to reconstitute the USSR minus the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Thus, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin fired out a number of Tweets yesterday, openly mocking Obama for putting him on the list of Russian officials whose foreign-held assets will now be frozen as punishment for their participation in Crimea's secession.
"Comrade Obama, what should those who have neither accounts nor property abroad do? Have you not thought about it?" Rogozin Tweeted, implying that the U.S. President is acting like an erstwhile Soviet apparatchik. "I think some prankster prepared the draft of this Act of the US President," he added later, in both languages. "Here it finally came to me: the real world-wide acclaim)) I thank the Washington Obkom!" he fumed sarcastically eight minutes later, using the abbreviation for the Regional Committee of the Communist Party - a once-powerful organ run by bureaucratic despots in the Soviet provinces.
Next to these messages, Rogozin's Twitter thread also contains jingoistic cheers congratulating fellow Russian patriots with a win in the Crimean referendum, which he called "a great day of victory of the national spirit" and "the first result of our struggle for national unity." His other Tweets contained veiled threats towards Ukraine in the form of promises to set up training shooting galleries in the Crimea and to expand Russia's military-industrial complex to its territory.
Apparently, the cruel world refuses to live up to Barack Obama's idea of peace through appeasement. This must come as a surprise to the president, who had received his Nobel Peace Prize as a validation of his understanding that the only real threat to world peace was greedy American imperialism. The prize was given to him by enlightened Europeans as an advance on the promise he brought to the world: that the sky would clear up and rainbows would unite different continents once America abandons its "cowboy diplomacy," disarms its military, and pushes a cartoonish "reset" button with misspelled Russian lettering.
As it turns out, the world is full of thugs waiting to take advantage of the others' weaknesses. Acting as if it isn't has turned American foreign policy and the very office of the U.S. President into a joke. As of now, this joke has been made official and certified by the esteemed "international community."
This is a sad situation. I think Obama is a terrible president who has unleashed what President Bush called “evil-doers” with consequences that cannot be known now but which are potentially disastrous for the world. He is now a laughingstock. And that is not good for America.