BOULDER, Colorado -- Only in Russia could a stupid magic show be turned into a preposterous piece of political theater.
Okay, for those of you that don't speak Russian, here's what happened.
The magician is doing a trick in which he locks in a safe a piece of paper with a description of a crime written on it. He then asks different members of the audience to guess the instrument used, the city in which the crime took place, and the name of the guilty party; the first two people offer suggestions of a knife and the city of Munich.
The trouble starts with the third audience member, who struggles to come up with a name, and finally blurts out "Putin." After the volunteer from the audience writes these three things on the board, the show's host - who looks and speaks like a total skinhead thug - intervenes.
"We have to change that name. They're telling me you have to change that. Try again. That simply isn't right," he says.
They even begin arguing about whether they can leave the name of the prime minister up on the board and just write the compromise suggestion - "Vladimir" - below it, or whether they need to get a new piece of paper entirely.
Apparently, the name "Putin" is like "Jehovah," not to pass the lips of man. This is a truly terrifying piece of self-censorship, but is commonplace in Russia. The cult of personality of now-Prime Minister Putin is well-established and nearly unassailable. That is, until the country's economy goes in the tank completely, and people start figuring out that he has unabashedly raided the treasury more than any of the oligarchs. Putin will go down as the worst kleptocrat the world has ever know, putting Suharto and Mobutu to shame.
Thanks to Itchy for this video.
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