- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
The Moscow Times reports that the Russian television network NTV, which is owned by the state-run energy giant Gazprom, boldly tested the limits of criticizing President Vladimir Putin on Sunday night by broadcasting a sketch featuring comedian Dmitry Grachyov as the Russian strongman. The parody poked fun at Putin’s legendary antics, including his "discovery" of Greek urns while scuba diving:
The pro-government channel had whetted viewers’ appetites earlier Sunday by publishing an article on its website under the headline "’Yes, Mr. President!’ We’re Really Showing This on Air."
Bloggers spent the early hours of Monday morning debating whether the new show reflected a loosening of the Kremlin’s grip over the media, even though similar hopes were quashed after Channel One broadcast a humorous cartoon on New Year’s Eve in 2009 showing Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dancing and singing.
Just one catch: According to the Moscow Times, Putin watched the sketch in advance. And he apparently approved, however grudgingly. "He invariably welcomes humor, in the best sense of the word," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency. Channel One, I imagine, might disagree.
Here’s a trailer for the parody:
You can watch the full sketch here.
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |