Internet hit song puts Putin supporters in 'madhouse'
A satirical pop song implicitly comparing Russians planning to elect Vladimir Putin as their president in March polls to patients of a psychiatric hospital has gone viral on the Russian internet.
"Our madhouse votes for Putin / Our madhouse will be glad to have Putin," a rock band sings to video footage of pyjama-clad patients and masked doctors dancing manically.
Last month, Prime Minister Putin announced a plan to reclaim the presidency in March presidential polls in a move that can keep him in power until 2024.
The victory of the former KGB colonel, who already occupied the top Kremlin post between 2000 and 2008, is virtually assured in the March polls.
"I feel that they stole our constitutional right to choose and that is what incenses me most of all," the band's frontman Alexander Semyonov told AFP on Wednesday.
The video appeared on YouTube last week and has been watched almost 200,000 times.
The song's authors said it hit a raw nerve as many Russians say Putin has robbed them of the chance to democratically elect a leader.
"This song hit a sore spot, that means a lot of people agreed with it," songwriter Alexander Yelin said of the popularity of the video by band Rabfak, known for its protest songs.
"Everything is so complicated, everything is so hard / But we haven't got time to work it out, brother," says the song, told from the point of view of a confused patient.
"Our madhouse votes for Putin/ He is definitely our candidate."
Lyricist Yelin is best known as the author of a catchy pop song from 2002 called "I want a man like Putin," offering tongue-in-cheek praise for a president who is "full of strength" and "does not drink."
"That was a time of women going crazy about the fact that a young, attractive man had come to power," Yelin told AFP, calling his songs snapshots of an era.
"Now is a time when a more manly kind of disappointment has set in," he said.
Putin's protege and incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev has agreed to step aside and serve as prime minister under Putin.
A poll released this month by independent Levada Centre found 24 percent of respondents called the Putin-Medvedev job swap "a stitch-up between the two politicians behind the people's back."
"This song is the anthem of the forthcoming elections," one commentator wrote on YouTube.
The Soviet regime notoriously incarcerated dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, which are still widely feared with little public understanding of mental illness.
Earlier this month, a rocker who previously played for Kremlin leaders, Andrei Makarevich, became an Internet sensation with a song deriding officials painting grass and hiding homeless people ahead of a visit by Putin.
Analysts say that in the absence of free media political satire helps Putin's opponents cope with fears of Russia sliding into stagnation under his new Kremlin term.
The songs come as a fresh crop of political jokes making fun of Putin and comparing him to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev who ruled over the Soviet Union until his death in 1982 are making the rounds on the Russian Internet.
© 2011 AFP