Russia’s State Security Service (FSB) – which prides itself on its mastery of the black arts such as propaganda – has produced a 2024 fundraising calendar which has been met with undisguised mockery and ire, particularly in the US.
Its front cover, portraying President Vladimir Putin as a man bursting with vigor and rippling muscles reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday, is ripe for derision and gets it in full measure.
The monthly illustration that has caused the highest level of negative response is that for November. It depicts the iconic United States Capitol building in Washington, which appears to be under attack from a Lancet kamikaze drone and Ka-52 attack helicopter while a fully equipped soldier bearing the insignia of the FSB’s Smersh special forces stands guard.
A typical response to this image came in a post on X (formerly Twitter) from Mario Pawlowski:
“MAGA cultists and far-right imbeciles here in America think that Putin wants to be friends with the United States. They will come together with China to rip the US apart, after they’re done with Ukraine and Eastern Europe. We need to stop Putin at any cost!”
Another “Tweeter” who calls himself the “Ukrainian Ministry of Accidental Russian Fires” urged his 3,000 or so followers to “please share with your favorite @GOP representative or senator on the Hill as they meet with Orban.”
The pictures illustrating the other months of the year, while less controversial, are best described as the usual mix of militarism and romanticism that was one of the features of Soviet propaganda:
January – depicts three special forces soldiers in “all-round defense” underneath their unit insignia.
February – shows a special forces soldier fully equipped and masked holding a young girl with pigtails clutching her teddy bear.
March – shows a field artillery piece firing into the distance.
April – yet another masked and fully equipped special forces soldier being embraced by a young girl, probably intended to represent his sweetheart.
May – a special forces soldier about to fire an assault rifle around a wall on which graffiti has been daubed showing the word Smersh (Tornado).
June – is a masked and goggled special forces soldier rescuing a cat.
July – shows two soldiers: a modern special forces soldier with the Russian flag on his helmet juxtaposed with a World War II soldier carrying the Soviet flag, leading an attack (see above).
August – a special forces soldier sits on a windowsill holding hands with a smiling Cheburashka, the popular character from a Russian children’s fairy-tale and Soviet movie.
September – three Russian heroes, two from the past and one modern wearing the symbol to show he is engaged in Putin’s “special military operation.”
October – a stylized drawing of modern armored car
November – Vanya makes it to the US Capitol (see above).
December – the Russian bear snarling and bearing a banner in the colors of the Russian flag on which are the words: “It’s not important who is against you, it’s important who is with you!”
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