Putin Celebrates Crushing Wagner Mutiny with Schoolgirl Selfies

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with local citizens during his working visi
Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin treated himself to a victory lap for scuttling warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s insurrection by strolling through the coastal city of Derbent on Thursday and posing for selfies with a crowd of admirers.

The New York Post translated a few choice encounters with swooning fans during Putin’s “bizarre public walkabout”:

“We are happy to see you!” one woman exclaims above deafening cheers as Putin shakes hands with a raucous group of very enthusiastic well-wishers gathered next to a fountain.

He is seen in the recording petting and kissing the heads of two girls, one of whom then wraps her arm around the president’s neck and pleads with him: “Please, I’m begging you, can I take a picture with you?”

The girl urges her mom standing nearby to snap the photo, and then appears to squeal in delight.

Another supporter is heard wishing the 70-year-old Kremlin strongman “good health and to live to 100 years old.”

Putin agrees that he should live to be a good deal older than 70, and he is fearful of both assassination attempts and germs, so he rarely indulges himself with such public spectacles. Rumors of his germaphobia are so well-known that the video of him smooching schoolgirls in Derbent renewed speculation that he uses body doubles for public appearances.

Russian state media gushed over Putin’s rally, with one television anchor hyperventilating that “even rock stars would nervously smoke in the corner with envy” at the welcome he received, and no other world leader could expect comparable enthusiasm from his public.

“In Derbent, there was an astounding demonstration of support and happiness of the local population,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov chirped.

“The data we have show the prevailing and dominating support of the president and the special military operation,” Peskov added, using the Kremlin’s preferred euphemism for Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

More skeptical observers noted that Putin had to fly to the coast of the Caspian Sea for his victory lap because it would be “impossible to organize a rapturous welcome for him in Moscow or any other central Russian region,” as former Kremlin speechwriter Abbas Gallyamov put it.

Putin chose a city in the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan for this appearance because he wanted to be seen paying his respects to the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Adha. His office said one of his goals was to increase tourism to the Caspian Sea region.

“Disrespecting the Quran is a crime in Russia, unlike in some other countries,” Putin said after receiving a copy of the book from the Juma Mosque in Derbent.

“The Quran is sacred for Muslims, and should be sacred for others,” Putin said. “We know that in some other countries they treat it differently – they do not respect people’s religious feelings, and then also have the audacity to say it was not a crime.”

Putin was primarily taking a swipe at Sweden, where courts and the police permitted an Iraqi refugee to burn a Quran on Wednesday, although they later charged him with “incitement of hatred” after angry Muslims took to the streets of Sweden and several Muslim countries.


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