Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Chechnya’s strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has come up with a social-media twist on a Soviet-style tradition – he’s given away an iPhone X for the best poem about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
That’s more significant than it might seem. With prices starting around 79,990 rubles ($1,369), the iPhone X just went on sale in Moscow on November 3; at some stores, within hours, it had sold out, Russian media report.
But, apparently, Chechnya’s male performers on the national, state-TV comedy show KVN, managed to snag one as a “surprise” for their good buddy, Kadyrov. How exactly was not explained.
“Whatcha gonna do with them? They’re just like kids!” a delighted Kadyrov recounted to his 3.1 million Instagram followers not long after receiving the phone post-midnight on Saturday.
And there was just one thing to do with it.
In honor of Russia’s November 4 Unity Day, the 41-year-old Chechen leader and his pals, ever eager to please the Kremlin, “together” decided to offer the phone to the person who recited the best Instagram poem about Putin (#НашПрезидентПутин). With cell phones and a PC at the ready, Kadyrov’s youth affairs ministry played jury.
The 1,745 entries came predominantly from children (some coached off-screen by a parent), though the odd adult also came up with thoughts about Putin as Russia’s most stalwart defender against all enemies.
A few did riffs on the contest. One posed in a black negligée. Another picked up a guitar.
One toddler was allegedly so overcome with her inability to say the magic word “Putin” that she dissolved into tears.
“Although we’re only three years old and we can’t say the word ‘Putin,’ we know what an iPhone is,” posted her apparent mother.
So did many others, as the paeans to “Putin, my Putin!” suggest.
In the end, though, the prized iPhone went to third-grader Kheda Ibakhiyeva, who, like any good Young Pioneer, reportedly declared (as Kadyrov put it) that she’d only competed "to express love and respect to her president, Vladimir Putin!"
The Kremlin, as yet, does not appear to have responded.
As for Kadyrov himself, he holds that chasing after the latest iPhone amounts to “delirium.”
Except, of course, for a worthy cause.