Propaganda or Clever Hoax? Tajik’s Putin Ballad Becomes Talk of Electorate
Nobody seems to know where he came from, but over the last day or so, a man calling himself Tolibjon Kurbankhanov has become an online sensation in Russia.
Kurbankhanov, supposedly a Tajik migrant worker living in Moscow, is the star of a music video called “VVP” -- short for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin -- which extols the virtues of Russia’s former, and, likely, future president, as no other before it. The song suggests Prime Minister Putin was sent to Russia by God, and at just the right time.
“Let’s sit and remember together those years / When he wasn’t here, we had just fear / A nation in peril, a suffering people / And at this time, God sent him to us,” the song begins. It eventually breaks into a jubilant refrain:
VVP – he saved the country
VVP – he protects us
VVP – raised up Russia
And development just keeps on going.
One YouTube commentator called the apparent propaganda “so thick, it’s refined.” But Russian bloggers were quick to point out the song is so ridiculous, it could, in fact, be a play to discredit Putin, whose initials happen to be the Russian abbreviation for Gross Domestic Product. (The video was posted by YouTube user SergeiRaevskii, who appears to have no other YouTube activity, and went viral when opposition presidential candidate Aleksei Navalny called attention to it on his blog.)
The steady stream of comments reflects – at best – Russians’ ambivalence toward migrant workers. Some, however, suggest the singer is either a drug dealer or is somehow in Moscow illegally.
Nationalism and ethnic conflict are prominent themes ahead of Russia’s presidential election next month, with the liberal opposition joining forces with nationalist factions during recent protest marches. On January 23, Putin published an essay on Russia’s ethnic and migration policies, proposing tighter monitoring and regulations for millions of labor migrants in Russia.