Soon-to-be coronated Russian President Vladimir Putin was greeted by boos at a mixed martial arts match held in Russia, an event that has led to a stream of denials by both the Kremlin and its lapdog media. Two of the denials the Russian media have used was that the fans were actually booing the American contender, who was leaving the arena at the time, and the other claim, somewhat ridiculous, was that there boos and whistles were for how long it was taking to get to the restrooms.
Having worked as a journalist in Russia and able to speak Russian, I decided to check it out.
In the beginning, I was skeptical that Putin was the one getting booed after he took the microphone. Let’s roughly go over what he said:
Beloved Russia, today we all witnessed some martial arts (boos start), we saw (muffled)…a good match. It is the holiday of thanksgiving, and we are opening with some real men who have come to…thank you very much (responding to the boos?)…(muffled)…Have a real Russian thanksgiving.
Later, Putin congratulates the victor, and from the crowd we heat the yell of “Уходи!” (ukhodi), which means “Get out of here!” By this time, the American had long left the building, so it is unclear who the man could have been yelling at except for Putin.
This is not to claim that Putin is actually very unpopular in Russia, and we are being told lies about how much support he has. His approval ratings are still very high, around 67% (down from the 80s last year). But the generally intelligent Russian people may be tired of being told they live in a democracy, when actually they live in an obvious sham version of it.
Nor is this to say that most people even want democracy. Most are extremely disillusioned with politics in general, and could care less about it. As long as people have a nice piece of black bread and a shot of vodka, they are good to go. This is not to besmirch Russians, they just have been lied to and abused so much by their politicians and the media, they tend to tune politics out unless it is really shoved in their faces.