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Feature Story December 13, 2001
 
Operation Enduring Sovok
By Matt Taibbi Browse author
 
Page 7 of 7
 
That is why Putin's popularity in Russia may be fleeting. In the beginning, his thuggish KGB agent act just gave sovok a chance to thumb its nose at the West. But when it takes a closer look at what Putin's all about, it might not like what it sees. The click of a leather heel on an uncarpeted hallway. Open spaces. "Professionals." Circumspection. Goons at the door instead of babushkas. Procreation instead of compliments. Sobriety. Jogging. Hygiene. Moral fastidiousness. Viciously regressive labor attitudes. A rapidly-growing oil empire. Except for his height, Putin really has much more in common with John D. Rockefeller than he does with Yuri Nikulin.

If anyone was the ultimate anti-sovok, it was Rockefeller. The ruthless old miser even left behind a poem establishing the fact. Can anyone imagine a Russian over-reciting this little quatrain on the Kultura channel?

A wise old owl lived in an oak;

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Why can't we all be like the wise old bird?

Oaks. Owls (sova, not sovki). Silence. Oil. With every step Putin takes in their direction, a way of life fades further into the background. What a great punchline. Disappearing might be the first thing sovok has ever done quietly.

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