Being fully aware that here in Russia Putin divides opinion much like Marmite, I would imagine his spin-doctors were looking for a way to enamour him to those citizens who don’t see him as the new messiah.
And I have absolutely no evidence for this nor any wish to do the research and find any, but I’d like to think this is what they came up with… Putin branded vodka.
What better way to make the man seem like a more attractive proposition to the Russian people? And in this picture I’ve tried to make him seem more attractive still by picturing the vodka in front of a random plant, which I found in my apartment on my return from the UK.
By the way, I’m pretty sure that Putinka is not a portmanteau of Putin and vodka (but again, it might be)… Over here adding the suffix -ka is a way to soften or sweeten a word (and hence also I guess, an image). One of the first things I learnt on my initial visit last February was that popa (попа) means arse, but that popka (попка) means cute arse… or something along those lines.
The vodka was on offer in the local equivalent of Tesco on New Years Eve, so this 70cl bottle cost me less than £3.50!
Handily for those who don’t know the Cyrillic alphabet (have you not been following my sporadic and utterly structureless course?) they’ve also printed the name in Latin letters on the back of the neck so you still know who to be grateful to.
Some friends of a mate in the UK were randomly visiting Saint Pete for New Year, so taking my Russian traditions very seriously nowadays, I invited them over for some pre-drinks before going out to watch the fireworks.
We left the apartment in fine spirits (no pun intended), but after the half hour walk down to the river (during which no further alcohol was drunk) something went horribly wrong, and essentially I lost the ability to see… I lost many other abilities, but the seeing one was most bizarre.
I don’t remember seeing a single firework (and as you know, I rather like it when they put fireworks on for me). We were in the right place, so I initially (the next morning when I awoke) put this down to facing in the wrong direction, but that seemed like a stretch of the imagination, even for me. Surely I would just have turned around?
I then recalled the walk home (and I am taking liberties with the definition of the word walk here), and realised that although I had memories of it, virtually none were visual, and most were from the ground.
I’m not sure whether I had a bizarre reaction to the cold, I slipped on the ice on the walk down and banged my head, or if I just need to take some responsibility for my actions, but for now I’ll blame Putinka (I didn’t drink the whole bottle to myself by the way, and everybody else seemed fine, so perhaps I’m being disingenuous).
After so looking forward to a drunken Russian New Year street party I ended up back home not long after midnight an incoherent mess… Fingers crossed it’s better next time.