Russia TV pokes fun at ruling tandem in New Year cartoon

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Russia's state television poked gentle fun at its ruling duo of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, in a New Year cartoon of them dancing and singing on Red Square.

Amid fizzing speculation about which of the men will run for the Kremlin in presidential elections in 2012, the cartoon showed the two singing a duet with Medvedev playing the accordion and Putin the tambourine.

The sketch -- shown on Channel One's New Year gala show overnight -- was essentially a sequel to a similar cartoon shown on the same day last year that was seen as a rare moment of satire on Russia's tightly controlled television.

Turning nifty pirouettes and singing in rhyming couplets, the pair reviewed the year 2010, referring to the sacking of Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, the spy scandal with the US and Russia's hosting of the World Cup in 2018.

"Life is getting better in Russia/ Wherever we show up bread costs just seven kopecks," Putin said, in apparent reference to the penchant of officials to hurriedly make changes to impress visiting dignitaries.

"I went to an Elton John concert and met Bono," sang Medvedev. "That's nothing!" responded the cartoon Putin. "I sang and played," referring to his performance in Saint Petersburg of Louis Armstrong's "Blueberry Hill".

Turning to Russia winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup, the cartoon Putin referred to Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko's now legendary speech at the bidding ceremony in Zurich.

In heavily-accented English on the point of being incomprehensible, Mutko made an impassioned plea "from my heart" for Russia to host the World Cup in a speech now known across the Internet as "fram mai khart'

"But the World Cup is ours/ Despite 'fram mai khart'," sang Medvedev.

"The CIA uncovered our (sleeper) agents," sang Medvedev. "I would have gone spying with Anna Chapman," Putin shot back in response.

While still a contrast to the straight-laced news broadcasts on Russian television, the satire is still far off the the bite of the 1990s when politicians were mercilessly mocked in the much-missed puppet show "Kukli".

Channel One appeared to have pulled out all the stops for its New Year show, which also included an appearance by Anna Chapman herself and live songs from Sting and Elton John.

© 2011 AFP

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