Support The Moscow Times!

Putin Sets Off Meme Storm By Comparing Medieval Invaders to Coronavirus Quarantine

"This is a sword. With this sword I beat the Pechenegs." tasyahg / Twitter

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!"

								 				tasyahg / Twitter
tasyahg / Twitter

"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?"

— "Okay!"

								 				Alexander Amzin / Facebook
Alexander Amzin / Facebook

— "Natasha, are you asleep?"

— "The Polovtsy have tormented us."

— "And the Pechenegs have tormented us, Natash."

— "And the coronavirus infection, Natash, frankly."

The Pechenegs:

— "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."

Putin: "Pechenegs."

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

The Moscow Times’ team of journalists has been first with the big stories on the coronavirus crisis in Russia since day one. Our exclusives and on-the-ground reporting are being read and shared by many high-profile journalists.

We wouldn’t be able to produce this crucial journalism without the support of our loyal readers. Please consider making a donation to The Moscow Times to help us continue covering this historic time in the world’s largest country.