Putin goes to space in Russian newspaper spoof
Russia's leading opposition newspaper cried foul Friday when an unknown group produced a fake replica, parodying it as a Kremlin mouthpiece, and which was distributed all over Moscow.
The mock Novaya Gazeta issue placed a giant photo of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on its front page with a caption saying that he has announced his presidential bid in the 2012 elections.
Other stories target Russia's opposition politicians and report on Putin's latest initiatives, with one story even petitioning to send him to space.
"Putin has been everywhere: on a submarine and on a plane... There is only one place where Putin has not been. That is space. Putin must fly to space!" said a story with a picture of Putin planting the Russian flag on the Moon.
The well-made fake makes use of Novaya Gazeta's logo and style and is full of illegal campaigning for the ruling United Russia party, Novaya Gazeta complained.
"I suppose one cannot take such a thing seriously, but it does break several laws," said Novaya Gazeta's deputy editor Sergei Kozheurov. "It's not a coincidence that this happened on the day of United Russia's congress."
The issue printed giant half-page ads for the ruling United Russia party. "Didn't expect to see such advertisement in Novaya Gazeta? Well, we have to support the paper somehow, nobody is buying it," said the caption.
The majority party started the grandiose two-day event Friday, which saw extensive participation by Vladimir Putin. Both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev are expected to give speeches Saturday.
The fake issue interspersed political articles with amusing ones such as a small brief about a shark attack survivor in far-eastern Vladivostok who strangled the beast after hitting it over the head with a bottle.
"We have information that there were at least 20 points in the city where the paper was given out," Kozheurov told AFP, adding that they have sent letters to the communications ministry and the election commission asking them to look into the matter.
Small print in the back of the issue links to a little-known Internet group called Media Killers.
© 2011 AFP