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Russian TV axes show starring Ukraine’s leader after Putin joke | World news


A Russian television channel has abruptly cancelled a sitcom starring Ukraine’s president after an allusion to a crude joke about Vladimir Putin was aired in Russia’s far east.

The political satire Servant of the People served as a platform for the former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy to gain popularity and eventually win the Ukrainian presidency, in a vote largely driven by anger at the country’s previous leaders.

But with sharp jokes directed against Putin, many wondered how long the political satire would last on Russia’s carefully-controlled airwaves.

The answer was less than one night.

After quickly editing out a joke made at Putin’s expense in the season’s premiere, the television channel TNT subsequently cancelled its broadcast of later airings of the 23-episode season, replacing them with sitcoms that were less likely to rile the Kremlin.

TNT did not immediately reply to requests from the Guardian for comment. It told Vedomosti, the Russian business newspaper, that it had never planned to air the whole season, and that the broadcast was a “marketing ploy” for its online streaming service. The episode is still available there.

Servant of the People follows the fictionalised Zelenskiy’s unlikely rise from high school teacher to Ukraine’s president after his rant against corruption goes viral.

In the season’s premiere Zelenskiy, playing the role of Ukraine’s new president, is selecting a new timepiece to match those worn by other leaders.

Putin, he is told, wears a Hublot.

“Putin’s a Hublot?” Zelenskiy responds.

The word Hublot resembles another that translates, less crudely, to the word “dick” in Russian’s swearing sub-language known as Mat. The phrase “Putin’s a dick”, using the swearword, became a popular slogan in Ukraine after the outbreak of the conflict in south-east Ukraine, and could be heard at anti-Putin rallies and seen in graffiti dabbed on walls across Ukraine.

It is not clear whether that joke was enough to cause the television show’s cancellation, as the series features a number of jokes about Russia and Putin. But in broadcasts of Servant of the People broadcast later on Wednesday night, including those shown in Moscow, the joke had been edited out. The edit was first reported by the BBC’s Russian service.

Lentach, a Russian website that combines news and humour, put together a simple map showing which parts of Russia had and had not heard “Putin is a Hublot”.

TNT, a Russian television station that focuses on sitcoms and comedy shows, announced it would debut the show just days after Zelenskiy and Putin met for high-stakes talks in Paris on the conflict in east Ukraine. It was the first meeting between the two leaders.

The show was advertised to Russian viewers as a counterpoint to Zelenskiy’s real presidency.

“For viewers, the television series became a utopia with no real relation to the Ukraine of Zelenskiy,” the television station wrote in a release.

Television is a carefully-controlled medium in Russia, and shows that have made fun of Putin have quickly been booted off air. The most famous was in 2002 when the show Puppets, which featured a fake version of Putin and was inspired by the show Spitting Image, was abruptly cancelled.





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NATO’s Most Elite Operators and their Biggest Challenges


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Pentagon concerns spike in pro-Russian sentiment among U.S. troops – Defence Blog


The U.S. military officials have concerned the spike in pro-Russian sentiment among the households of military members.

More than 1,000 U.S. adults responded between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points to the second annual national defense survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Almost 46% of the households of military members viewed Russia as an ally even considering the increase in tension between the two countries.

The Voice of America has reported that while a majority, 71% of all Americans and 53% of military households, still views Russia as an enemy, the spike in pro-Russian sentiment has defense officials concerned.

“There is an effort, on the part of Russia, to flood the media with disinformation to sow doubt and confusion,” Defense Department spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason told VOA.

“This is not only through discordant and inflammatory dialogue but through false narratives designed to elicit sympathetic views,” she said, adding, “we are actively working to expose and counter Russian disinformation whenever possible.”

The Deutsche Welle reported that in order to manipulate public discussions, especially in times of elections or referendums, information providers controlled by the Kremlin have purposefully disseminated disinformation, extremely hyperpartisan news and populist narratives. This is not an extension of pluralism of opinion through balanced and objective information that is acceptable in the sense of a free public sphere, but rather illegitimate interference.

These novel disinformation campaigns exploit the increased information overload experienced by people in the digital world. They flood the information space with a multitude of lies, half-truths or absurd news.

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the Russian propaganda uses every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to users’ interests to influence they.

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Putin’s Perfect Cover


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Russian Su-30 fighter jets criticized by Belarus, they want F-16 – Defence Blog


Russia has started implementing a contract on the delivery of a batch of its newest Su-30SM multirole fighter jets to Belarus, but some analysts raised concerns about costs over the entire life cycle of the aircraft, from fabrication to maintenance.

The publication Lenta.ru reported Friday that a wide range of renowned experts has expressed their concerns regarding Belarus selected Russian-made combat aircraft to replace ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 fleet.

Andrey Porotnikov, BelarusSecurityBlog’s project leader, said that operating and support costs of Russian aircraft are more expensive than U.S.-made F-16 fighter aircraft.

Usually, the combat aircraft life-cycle cost for an estimated life of 35 years is 2-2.5 times its purchase price, as a result of which the total cost of maintenance of each Belarus’s Su-30SM will cost $100-125 million.

“And now, to sum up, the price of aircraft [about $ 50 million], the maintain of airworthiness and modernization. We get the amount from 185 to 210 million dollars for each (!) aircraft in the next 35 years. And the squadron [12 aircraft], respectively, from 2.22 billion to 2.52 billion dollars. The amount is not small, ”- Andrey Porotnikov stated.

Another disadvantage of the fighter manufactured in Russia is its AL-31FP engines, which six units “eat” during the Su-30SM life cycle (two of them are already installed and paid for at the time of purchase). This circumstance in the publication is explained by the fact that “Soviet (Russian) aircraft engines are traditionally inferior to Western ones not only in fuel efficiency but also in between-repairs and operating life cycles.”

“The Polish Air Force simultaneously operates the Soviet twin-engine fighter MiG-29 and the American single-engine F-16. It is assumed that the American fighter will fly off all 35 years with the same engine that was originally installed on it. Unfortunately, this does not work out with the MiG-29: eight engines will have to be replaced in the same period, ” explained analyst.

Photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan Bevan

According to TASS, the Su-30SM is a generation 4++ serial-produced and upgraded two-seat super-maneuverable fighter jet. The Su-30SM is furnished with two AL-31FP thrust-vectoring reheated double-flow turbofan engines. The fighter has an operating range of 1,500 km and flight endurance of 3.5 hours without refueling.

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