Monday, March 10, 2014

Putin the Boot In

Look, I tried to come up with a better pun, but "Putin on the Ritz" didn't seem relevant, and "Crimea River" seems both ignorant and insensitive, so this was the best I could think of.


I'm sure you good folks remember my story last fall of how Vladimir Putin, during his KGB days, tried to get information from my mother while posing as a tourist?  As it turns out, lat week there was a story in the Independent Journal Review titled "When Ronnie Met Vlady," and as you can guess, it was about how President Reagan met Putin -- who was again disguised as a tourist, and who was still a KGB operative -- when he traveled to Moscow in 1988.

That's Putin on the left. No word on whether or not the child in the foreground is
supposed to be his kid or not. 
So, there you go:  Photographic proof that KGB agent Putin posed as a tourist, 4-5 years after he tried to turn my mom into an asset.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to prove that this actually happened... probably because I know that it sounds like such a BS story, but I'm honestly not trying to BS you guys!

Speaking of Berlin, and in an interesting coincidence, I found this blog post by Not Clauswitz, and  I actually had an OMG I WAS THERE! moment.

This is the changing of the guard at the Neue Wache, which (at the time) was a "Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism" that was dedicated in 1960. We will set aside, for the moment, the cognitive dissonance involved in having goose-stepping German soldiers guarding a tomb dedicated to the people who were killed by other goose-stepping German soldiers about two generations prior, because there's another story I want to tell you:

On this same trip to Berlin, my parents and I went to see this changing of the guard, as it was a major tourist attraction for Westerners (and probably compulsory attendance for East Berliners). We were along the street, not the sides, and because I was a young child I was in the front row. As it happens, we were right in front of the soldier on the left.

Now, perhaps it was because I was small and they were large, or perhaps it's because I was young and impressionable and thought that because they were Communists they were evil, uncaring people, or perhaps the guards just like putting on a good show -- but I swear to you that I thought he was going to kick me right in the face.  You can see how high he steps, and that's approximately head-high to a 10 year old. And he came so close that I could see that his boots had no tread (probably so they'd get that impressive smacking sound on the pavement).

Here is a nifty video showing the changing of the guard. At the 2 minute mark, you can see just how close they get to the onlookers. While I was probably perfectly safe, as I was behind the marked line, to this day you cannot convince me that the guard would not have kicked me right in the head if I had been too close.

Here is another video, this time taken from the side:

There you go: Putin and jackboots. Perhaps not too terrible a pun after all, now is it?

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