Some of the most scorching, searing sarcasm against Russian President Vladimir Putin has been coming lately from the unlikely stage of a truck driver's seat, and pouring out in a smooth operatic baritone to the tune of popular Soviet songs — but with very different lyrics.
Vadim Dubovsky, a native of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk who has been living in the U.S. for the past decade, drives his truck outside of Chicago and uses his professional music skills and talents to voice just what he thinks about Putin and Moscow's policies in Ukraine.
And the thoughts are not kind.
When Russia recently dismissed the arrests of its paratroopers in Ukraine by saying they had "accidentally" wandered into the country, Dubovsky responded with a song titled "You are the Army of a Freak."
"You shouldn't wander around where you can get lost, accidentally stumbling into other people's war," he blasts in a powerful baritone to an upbeat tune. "Your relatives can now be proud of you: Not every Russian has done time in another country."
Dubovsky has become something of an Internet celebrity, with his songs viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, and his performances gaining coverage by Ukrainian television channels and news portals.
He sings in Russian and Ukrainian from his driver's seat, in front of a camera installed in the cabin, as the truck cruises along the highway. While the music comes from familiar Soviet-era songs, the lyrics are Dubovsky's own.
In one of his latest hits, titled "And Hell Rages On" — a take on the popular Soviet-era song "And the Battle Rages On" — Dubovsky first slams the rhetoric of Russia's official proclamations and state-run television coverage.
"For all the troubles and problems, only the West is to blame," he sings in a parody of Moscow's assertions. "Russia, you are once again a rogue. And Cuba is your best friend."
Then he calls out Putin personally, referring to him by a popular expletive that can loosely be translated as "d*ckhead" and that has worked its way into the lexicon of mainstream politicians, and calling him "crafty and evil as a goblin."
He warns that the Russian leader will be called to account for the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, the annexation of Crimea and the separatist war in eastern Ukraine.
"Putin, don't expect mercy. The Hague Tribunal awaits," Dubovsky sings. "You won't be pardoned for anything. Neither the Boeing, nor Crimea, nor Donbass."
In another song titled "Farewell March," he casts doubts on Russia's attempts to present itself as a peacekeeper concerned about the well-being of "brotherly" Ukrainians — a claim that seems belied by Putin's reported assertion a few years earlier that "Ukraine is not even a state," and by other Russian politicians' dismissive comments.
"We have never been brothers. The virus of slavery has crept into your souls," he sings. "You've always heaped curses on our faith, our freedom, our language."
Dubovsky is a graduate of Ukraine's Conservatory, he told UA Modna, a Ukrainian online television channel in the U.S. He visited the U.S. on three music tours starting in 2000, and during his last visit decided to stay, Dubovsky said in an interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service.
As for the reason he aims many of his punches personally against Putin: "I consider him my personal enemy," Dubovsky was quoted as saying. "This is a man who cause a lot of evil for my motherland, my friends, my acquaintances. He has really gone too far and it's time to stop him."
Watch more of Dubovsky's videos here:
"And Hell Rages On" (warning: contains Russian curse words)