17 Apr. 2008

Sex, Power, Greed And Mortality

So now Putin is dumping his wife and shacking up with a 24-year-old.

Alina Kabaeva joins the new breed of underage political concubines-cum-cohorts Carla Bruni and Wendi Deng.

Kabaeva was last year voted the most popular athlete in Russia. You can see why...

The woman in second place was called Irina Slutskaya. Lucky Vlad didn't pick her, eh?

I guess this crap all makes sense when you consider what sort of moral vision drives men like Putin, Sarkozy and Murdoch. Any concept of an afterlife based on karmic payback must be anathema to them, if not a recurring nightmare. So why not grab all the money, power and pussy you can, while you are here on earth? Why not have six-in-a-bed romps on Murdoch's massive yacht, while you all snort cocaine and laugh about the dead in Iraq and Chechnya?

But why do we, the people let assholes like these run our world? No wonder we cannot get broad agreement on long-term issues like disarmament, climate change, and global poverty. For shame. Our grandchildren will pay the price for our celebrity-obsessed apathy.

UPDATE: Lynne Cheney says she likes it when people call her husband "Darth Cheney" because it humanizes him.

Next day:
Moscow Korrespondent admitted that the story had “no factual basis” after Aleksandr Lebedev, the billionaire owner of the newspaper, challenged staff to back up the claims or apologise.
It would be interesting to see whether anyone gets sacked for this - otherwise is could be Lebedev making a point, or Putin flying a kite. But I don't have time to follow Russian politics as well as everything else... My comments on morality remain valid, I think, for many other reasons. So I won't delete this post.

Another day later, the editor is forced to resign and the paper is closed down:
The paper admitted there was no factual basis for its claim that Putin had already divorced Ludmilla, 50, his wife of 24 years, and would marry Kabaeva in June, shortly after standing down as president and becoming prime minister. It cited information from a party planner who claimed to be bidding to organise the lavish reception.

Both Putin and Kabaeva denied the report, which was followed up by European newspapers but ignored by Russia’s media, which do not delve into the private lives of politicians.

“I thought we should run the story to help break the taboo,” said Nekhoroshev. He paid a swift penalty for his daring: the paper, owned by Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire tycoon, ceased publication immediately.

Its parent firm blamed “costs” and “conceptual disagreements with the newsroom” but insisted in a statement that “this has nothing to do with politics and is solely a business decision”.

Few in Russia will believe that. The closure came a few hours after Putin had said during a visit to Sardinia that there was not a word of truth in the story and derided the “snotty noses and erotic fantasies” of the journalists concerned. So protective is the president of his private life that the Russian public has not seen his daughters since he came to power eight years ago.

“Our director came to the newsroom and told us we were being shut down,” said Nekhoroshev, who sounded shaken. “As far as the story is concerned I’ve full faith in my correspondents.”

Kabaeva, who is famed for her “extreme natural flexibility”, had threatened to sue. Her high profile as a sporting pin-up has been enhanced by photographs showing her wearing nothing but furs, but she has spoken of her strong political ambitions.

During Putin’s presidency, the Kremlin has brought all the television channels under its control and become highly sensitive to criticism in the press.

Lebedev, who had ordered his editors to stand up the story with some facts or apologise – they apologised – may now come under further pressure. He also owns Novaya Gazeta, a paper fiercely critical of the Kremlin.

“It just goes to show what a terrible state the Russian media is in after eight years of Putin’s regime,” said Oleg Panfilov, an analyst. “It is so cowed that one just needs to bark at it to see it hide under a table.”