During a televised meeting Wednesday, Putin called on his fellow Russians to wait out the nationwide “non-working” month in self-isolation to avoid the further spread of coronavirus — and did so by invoking Russia’s past victories against medieval invaders.
“Everything passes and this will pass. Our country has gone through many serious challenges: When tormented by the Pechenegs and the Cumans, Russia has handled them all. We will defeat this coronavirus contagion,” he said.
The remarks instantly sparked bewilderment — and, as always, lots of memes.
Some of them drew punchlines from the similarity between Pecheneg and pechen’ye, the Russian word for a cookie. Others noted the similarity between Polovtsy, the Russian name for the Cumans, and plov, the popular rice dish.
Many poked fun at Putin’s apparent view of the Pechenegs and Cumans — nomadic tribes that raided parts of Russia in the 10th and 11th centuries — as one of the greatest challenges Russia has ever faced. Greater, even, than World War II.
Here’s a look at some of the top contenders:
— We have overcome much worse.
— We defeated the Pechenegs.
— And the Polovtsy?
— And the Polovtsy.
Putin before the quarantine: "Constitution!"
Putin after the quarantine: "Pechenegs!"
"This is a sword. With this sword I beat the Pechenegs. Stupid Pechenegs I f---ing hate you"
Putin: "In the past week I've had an obsessive fear of the Pechenegs."
Psychotherapist: "Don't worry, we defeated them long ago. There are no Pechenegs anymore."
The Pechenegs and Cumans discuss how they'll divide Russia:
— "We'll take the oil, and you'll take the gas?"
— "Natasha, are you asleep?"
— "The Polovtsy have tormented us."
— "And the Pechenegs have tormented us, Natash."
— "And the coronavirus infection, Natash, frankly."
— "So, are we on Google Trends?"
— "No, the Polovtsy are there!"
Me: "I hope Putin will stop constantly bringing up the Great Patriotic War and find something else for Russia to be proud of."