Well, Putin’s missing. No one has seen him in about a week. For whatever reason, this is not exactly surprising. It would not be hard to imagine the American government devolving into a Rand Paul-led self-parody were Obama to disappear for ten days, yet the average reaction to Putin’s absence seems to be a darkly amused, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
I will make no comment on where I think Putin has scampered off to; I have literally no clue. Others have already tossed their ideas into the ring. A Kazakh official stated that Putin had fallen ill with the flu and is recuperating. The Swiss newspaper Blick proffered that Putin is actually in Lugano to assist his mistress in childbirth. Many a twitter user has jokingly declared Putin dead. The cornucopia of theories stems from the fact that we, as a global population, are unable to pigeonhole Putin into the categories we normally toss world leaders into. Were Berlusconi to go missing for any period of time he would have been sleeping with prostitutes. Idi Amin would have been murdering people. When Kim Jong Un goes missing, our first assumption is that his generals finally pulled an “Of Mice and Men” on him.
But Putin is inscrutable, nearly amorphous. He’s not quite a dictator but certainly not a president. He did good things for Russia early on in his rule but it would stretch to call him strictly benevolent. He is intimidating and serious, yet his cronies are quick to publish photos of him practicing Judo to debase any claims of his ill health, a move that would be seen as deliberate satire in any other European country. Even in his absence he remains imposing, partially because it so perfectly captures the aura of mysterious he has managed to build around him.
I don’t know where Putin is. But he’s missing, so if you ever felt like doing investigative journalism on corruption in Russian politics and live to talk about it, now might be a decent time.