There's a trend going up in Russia — one of political hackery and cult of personality.
It's no secret that Vladimir Putin is a vain man. It's no secret that his being hyped up has been going on for a while, either. An alarming, though unsurprising development came in the form of magazines, plural, titled "Putin", and books about him in the stores. His face is bigly plastered on the covers, as if dedication of the printed material were difficult to miss initially, and the subtitles, where present, indicate the vague kinds of virtues people assign to someone when they don't know what to praise.
It's alarming because of the growing obsession with the person who keeps the country in a stranglehold. It's alarming because people have no idea who Putin really is. All we get to hear from the national TV is how strong a leader he is, how swiftly he deals with his opponents. Not a word about his positive achievements in quality of life of his country — because there can't be. We may have a cult of personality, but at least we don't lie as brazenly as Donald Trump.
Speaking of the tan man.
His books are being prominently presented in the same stores, separate from the Putin books but still on display. Why? Definitely not because they're good books or solid business guides. A person uneloquent in the Russia-US relationships and the current US' political situation would feel stuck with the puzzle.
And you don't get to be eloquent about those in Russia unless you spend time to consider your evidence critically and go beyond the news sources readily available. It takes time an effort to understand any country's political situation, because a country is a very complex mechanism. It takes time to understand Russia's, too. In a country where critical thinking is being curbed in favor of an obedient and vaguely dissatisfied workforce, it's difficult to procure, let alone discuss, what exactly is going on.
So, Trump's a friend of Russia's, therefore his books are designated "popular".
Then you get to the First Channel, state-owned and filled with propaganda pieces.
By the vice of being near people who watch a lot of TV, I tend to glimpse (or be forced to listen to) what they're consuming. Most of the time, what they're consuming is the same hackery of a debate I've mentioned in my "national TV" comment above. They have an American who speaks Russian with a bad enough accent that's easy to pick out in the crowd, and they berate him for whatever argument he has pro-US as if he's a representative of the country rather than a free agent willing to partake in the circus that this is.
"But Trump is a better president!"
"Putin doesn't care about your distastes!"
"Surely you're not saying that Ukraine is a sovereign state anymore. Sold to the US, it is!"
I made all of those up, knowing full well I've not produced anything better than what I got to hear from the program.
So. Trump is a friend, Putin's great, it's just that the country "can't get back off its knees" and "there's a lot of unreasonable hostility about Russia in America" — while there's an incessant debate about who's wrong and what are we gonna do about it, that most people consume thoughtlessly off their screens while relaxing after a day's work that costed more of their soul and nerve cells than they're getting paid for.
I might end up going to jail for the second picture in the links, by the way: it's illegal to share it in Russia
I never thought I grew up to witness a cult of personality being strengthened. It is an odd time to be alive.
Our countries perhaps have more in common these days than either realizes.