During a recent panel conference in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin cupped his hand around a microphone and joked, in a loud stage whisper, that he was planning on meddling in the 2020 US elections.
“I’ll tell you a secret: yes, we’ll definitely do it. Just don’t tell anyone,” he said.
It’s not the first time he’s turned fact or fear into folly; Putin has a penchant for cracking jokes about serious issues. Some may be objectively funny, some abhorrently sexist and others just plain weird.
In 2013, while visiting a school in Siberia, Putin tested the capabilities of an interactive whiteboard — by drawing a cat’s bum. He told the class of chuckling students “this is for you to remember me”. The gag just goes to show that, no matter how terrified the students were, butt jokes will never fail to get a laugh.
When addressing Russia’s meddling in the US election in 2017, Putin joked that Russia’s foreign minister would have to be reprimanded for “not sharing these secrets with me or the intelligence services”.
Sitting in the Kremlin in 2018 with then-US security adviser John Bolton, Putin gestured to the official seal of the US — which includes a bald eagle holding a bundle of 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch with 13 olives in another — and asked, “Has your eagle picked all the olives and only has arrows left?” This one might be funnier in Russian.
He was on fire at his annual press conferences. When a journalist mentioned another candidate wanted to run for president, Putin responded, “Of what country?” He also joked that a palace coup couldn’t be possible as Russia has a Kremlin and not a palace, and when asked about his health, he quipped, “Don’t hold your breath!” When a journalist asked, with slurred words, Putin about drinking, he replied, “You’ve already had yours.” (It later emerged the journalist had survived multiple strokes.)
When asked if his aides had relayed any of the jokes made about him, Putin joked “No, they are afraid to tell me”. But this one has some truth to it. Joking about Putin can land residents behind bars.
Apparently, Putin can dish it out, but he sure can’t take it.