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Putin Manhandles Obama in Moscow's Propaganda Art Gallery

The artistic value of new Russian propaganda is way below its glorious Soviet predecessor, but the paranoid, attack-dog mentality remains the same.

According to Gazeta.ru, last Friday, at the "Flakon" art factory in Moscow, a pro-Putin group of nationalist youth called "Young Guard" together with the "patriotic artists and well-known graphic designers" organized an exhibition of over 100 political cartoons glorifying the policies of President Vladimir Putin. The politically "correct" organizers must have been too dead-serious about their sycophancy to notice the grotesque irony of the event's title, "Without Filters."

Forget the filters. The exhibited artists had to be wearing blindfolds not to notice the dangerous cusp to which the current Russia's regime has taken the country by whipping the nationalistic fervor, xenophobia, and paranoia. They have portrayed Putin as a hero, a winner, and savior of the nation at a time when Russia's ruble is crumbling, the country's international standing has hit a new low, and the falling oil prices threaten to knock out Russia's oil-oriented economy, which Putin had a chance to diversify, but didn't.

Instead, the Russian president is shown as a winner who knocks out a bloodied man resembling Vitali Klitschko -- a heavyweight boxing world champion from Ukraine, who became a politician leading his own country towards independence.

Another drawing pictures Putin on top of a tank, addressing two peasant girls to ask if they had seen any fascists around. The girls have the faces of Barack Obama and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, whom the artist apparently considers to be "fascists" and who had disguised themselves out of fear of being caught.

The event organizer, "Young Guard," is to Vladimir Putin's puppet political party "United Russia" what the Soviet Young Communist League was to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Not coincidentally, it is named after a glorified, if mostly fictional, underground militia group who fought the Nazis on the occupied territories during WWII. Decades after the Nazis had been defeated, the Soviet and now Russian government has continued to steep generations of young people in the same Stalinist war-time mythology - keeping alive the memory, the hatred, and the eagerness to throw themselves under the tanks and die defending the Motherland against the fascists

When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Similarly, just about every opponent of the regime has become a fascist. Putin only needs to point a finger. Today, his finger is pointing at Ukraine - and thus the fascists and the Nazis are now all those Ukrainians, from politicians to common citizens, who want to join the West and are defending their country against Russia's aggression.

Putin's finger is further pointing to the United States and other Western countries that oppose Putin's corrupt regime and his militaristic policies. Hence the self-righteous anti-American, anti-Western, and "anti-fascist" hysteria that is sweeping today's Russia, causing many, including famous actors and writers, to come out with shrill anti-Western rhetoric. Some of them go as far as to travel to the "historic Russian territories" controlled by the puppet pro-Russian "separatists" and shoot some Ukrainians.

Once again, they are so dead-serious about their "anti-fascist" delusion that they fail to notice it's their own rhetoric and their own actions that quite accurately resemble the rhetoric and the actions of the German Nazis on the brink of WWII, complete with militant nationalism, cult of the strong leader, resurrection of Aryan mythology, and popular support for Hitler's annexation of "historic German territories" in France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

The "patriotic" exhibition in question is a fair reflection of such a mindset -- from glorification of blood and violence to fascistic symbolism and dehumanization of the opponent to conspiracy theories and the supremacy of Russia "uber alles."

Quite a few pictures ridicule Barack Obama, who is being spanked, pulled by the ear, and even has a barrel of a gun stuck in his bloodied face by Vladimir Putin. In one such poster, Putin and Obama are watering a tree. On Putin's side the tree is green, while on the U.S. president's side it's dead, with human skulls showing through the roots. Without defending Obama's policies, it would be fair to say that in this metaphor Putin's side of the tree would really be on fire.