The Daily Heller: Putin Brings Out the Worst

Posted inThe Daily Heller

Russia clamped down harder Friday on news and free speech than at any time in President Vladimir V. Putin’s 22 years in power, blocking access to Facebook and major foreign news outlets, and enacting a law to punish anyone spreading ‘false information’ about its Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison.” —The New York Times, March 4

Igor Karash—originally from Baku, Azerbaijan—is an illustrator based in St. Louis, MO. Lucky he is. While Azerbaijan was a Soviet republic, today it is a sovereign nation. Although his 9–5 illustration work encompasses picture books, classic literature, novels, and concept art for theater and film, Karash, like many of us, has long been a critic of Vladimir Putin. The work presented here is Karash’s personal visual commentary on Putin’s transition from a “strong man/soft dictator” into a Hitler-like figure.

“Named after Tchaikovsky’s ballet that was on TV sets all day during the 1990 coup in Moscow, this illustration was created during the second transition of power between Putin and his PM, Medvedev.”
Kremlin’s Theatre of the Absurd poster series which allows the the audience (mainly those in Russia and in the former Soviet Republics) to recollect iconic plays, books, and animations that either had something to do with the theme of tyranny and corruption or sarcasm and dark humor. Here I reinterpret the play The Dragon by soviet playwright Evgeny Schwartz, originally aimed against Hitler and Stalin. The small text on the bottom reads: Staged by Kremlin’s Academic Theatre of the Absurd.
“This mini-series is about staging House of Cards Russian-style. It was also created during the time when Putin and Medvedev were playing different roles: the president and his PM, and vise versa. While doing so they managed to change the Russian Constitution, allowing Putin to stay in power longer.”
“These drawings are based on the play Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. The cut-out letters are a playful representation of the Russian name for Putin’s party, ‘United Russia’ (ЕДИНОРОС). The last letter (Cyrillic ‘C’) in the end is broken in a way which transforms the name into ЕДИНОРОГ (Rhinoceros).”
“These were done after the start of the Ukrainian war in 2014 and the Russian BUK System taking down a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukrainian skies. Following these events, Putin began to promote Russia to host the Soccer World Cup.”
“Some criticism of European leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. I believe the sanctions imposed on Russia this year should have been placed in 2014.”
“Kremlin’s Theatre of the Absurd presents: Left: The Dragon, where a three-headed dragon represents three abbreviations of the Special Secret Police in the U.S.S.R. and Russia throughout history—Che-Ka, KGB and FSB. Middle: Heart of a Dog—a satirical novel written by Mikhail Bulgakov about a dog found on the streets of revolutionary Petrograd (St. Petersburg), which was operated on by a famous professor who turns it into a ‘new revolutionary human.’ The typography is written in such a way that it contains a trace of the letters U.S.S.R., hinting at Putin’s nostalgia for Soviet times. Right: The play Bedbug by Vladimir Mayakovsky. The Russian title KLOP (Bedbug) transformed into XLOP (Khlop)—implying ‘killing the bedbug,’ or any bug.”
“Fascism on the Rise: The images on the left and right make fun of the Russian version of The Wizard of Oz, in which Urfin Jus (the antagonist) creates an army of wooden soldiers to terrorize the entire world. The writing says: Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers. The middle section is another version of the Rhinoceros play.”
“A continuation of the theme of the ‘Unlearned Lessons,’ making fun of the absurd mathematical terms, language, etc. Here, Little Putin is solving ‘problems’ by introducing his own nonsensical answers. Left: 20 years x 1.5 presidents = eternity. Right: The word ‘ConstiPUtion’ against a background where all meaningful words are crossed out.”
“Presenting the act of poisoning Aleksey Navalny by Putin’s rats in a play entitled The Voyage to
LilliPutin Land. A Gulliver-like Navalny shown against small gray ‘invisible’ secret police.”
“Posters done after the second invasion of Ukraine a week ago. Left: to commemorate Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in Moscow right after he said (in a TV interview) that Putin is ‘fucking nuts.’ Here I am saying (to the Russian public), ‘I told you guys, he is nuts, but you didn’t believe.’ Right: Lenin in his death wheelchair reacting to Putin’s recent passage about Lenin as someone who ‘made up’ Ukraine. Speech bubbles: Lenin: ‘Was it me who created Ukraine?’ Putin: ‘No, you created Me.'”
“In their ideological war and attempts to create a new ‘Russian World,’ the Russian government /media use the Russian word ‘skrepy’ that means some kind of archaic way to clip things together like ‘true Russian values’ (that somehow are very different from Western civilization), religion, some Soviet-style rhetoric and practices, idea of a strong leader (Stalin), etc. … So, I took simple paper clips and played with them. The question is hard to translate but means something like ‘see what you’ve done with your skrepy.’”