To: President Vladimir Putin
From: The Moscow Foreign Press Corps
We, the Moscow Foreign Press Corps, wish to directly address you, the esteemed Russian President, concerning an affront you committed against our profession, and against our careers.
Last week, you made a surprise announcement that you would lead the United Russia party ticket in parliamentary elections, thereby positioning yourself to become prime minister when your second term is up next year. It is widely assumed that you would then transfer power from the president’s office to your new position, from which you would continue to run the country.
This plan, should it come to pass, has been universally acclaimed as a Machiavellian masterstroke, allowing you to continue running the country while honoring your word to step down in accordance with the Constitution.
But not everyone is impressed with the idea, Mr. President. We, the foreign press corps, would like to register our strong displeasure with this plan and urge you to reconsider. Not because it robs the Russian people of the last vestiges of democratic government, and not because we didn’t think of it first. We oppose this plan because it is deeply unfair to us, the foreign journalists of Moscow.
For us, the mystery surrounding the elections was the whole reason why we came to Russia to report. We braved the discomforts of Moscow life just for this one story. Indeed some of us have been waiting seven long years just to make our professional names in these elections, Mr. President, and you stole our fucking story. We’ve written about your anti-NATO tantrums, your topless fishing trips, your Arctic expeditions, your frightening youth groups. We’ve done ou
r best with the material you’ve given us, which, while far from perfect, has at least allowed some of the more enterprising members of our association to package and sell a highly marketable scare story. Writing about Russia’s failure to Westernize was depressing; writing about Russia’s halting attempts to turn around was simply uninteresting; but the material you gave us which allowed us to package Russia as a growing threat was, we admit, profitable.
But selling you as the new Hitler only has so much marketing appeal. After all, there’s already Iran’s president and Osama bin Laden crowding out the New Hitler market. No, what we in the foreign press corps placed our professional hopes in were the elections, some sort of major and historic transfer of power. This was going to be the Russia story of the decade; it was going to be the gift that kept on giving. And last week, you killed that story. No, you killed our livelihood, Mr. President. You killed our book deals and our appearances on C-SPAN and BBC. You sucked seven months worth of front-page oxygen right out of our professional lungs. Not cool, Mr. President. Not cool and not fair.
It is not too late to do what is right by us and give us our story back. You could, for example, cancel elections. Or you could arrest some high-profile pro-Western politicians. Or perhaps kill a few of them. We’re still willing to negotiate this. We the undersigned urge you do to so at the soonest possible opportunity. The brewing siloviki story is too confusing for us and even more confusing for our readers. We need you to do something dramatic and easily-understandable in order to restore our investment into the Russian story.
Therefore, we urge you, Mr. President, to cancel elections and to shoot at least one dozen protesters before the year is out. If you do not take drastic measures like these, we, the Moscow Foreign Press Corps, will go on strike beginning January 1, 2008. This is not a threat, Mr. President. This is a demand.
The Moscow Foreign Press Corps.
This article was first published in The eXile in October, 2007.
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