A regional deputy in the city of Samara in Russia’s Volga region took what might prove to have been a dangerously light-hearted approach to President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation address earlier this week, and one that may have left non-Russians wondering what on earth was going on.
A YouTube video posted by Communist Party Duma Deputy Mikhail Abdalkin on Tuesday shows him watching the president’s annual speech to the Federation Council at his desk with cooked noodles hanging from his ears.
For Russians, the implication is clear — the noodles refer to the popular Russian idiom “вешать лапшу на уши” (literally: to hang noodles on one’s ears), which is used to describe an act of deception or when false information is being fed to the listener. By literally hanging noodles from his ears, Abdalkin managed to imply his skepticism of what Putin was saying without actually having to say it and face possible legal consequences.
Abdalkin is a well-known troublemaker on the regional political scene, having pulled pranks such as gifting a penis-shaped bar of soap to one rival and presenting a bucket of feces to another. When he was summoned to his local conscription office during Russia’s recent mobilization drive, many saw it as an attempt to punish the deputy for his reckless behavior.
Abdalkin’s video, which has now been viewed over 53,000 times, was condemned by Russian State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Khinshtein who called on the Communist Party to “restrain” their member.
“It is a strange stunt, to say the least, which would be more suitable for a Ukrainian deputy,” Khinshtein wrote on his Telegram on Wednesday.
Khinshtein also contrasted Abdalkin’s actions with a recent speech given by veteran Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in which he pledged that the members of his party would “consolidate” around the Russian president.
Saying that Abdalkin's actions had been motivated by nothing more than “a momentary desire for internet fame,” Communist Party State Duma Deputy Alexandr Yushchenko said the party would be “conducting a legal and moral assessment” of Abdalkin’s actions, TASS reported.
“Mikhail Abdalkin is a relatively young deputy … famous for his various protests which he staged in his hometown,” Mikhail Matveev, another Communist party deputy in the State Duma said of his fellow party member, according to TASS.
Clearly determined not to fall foul of Russia's wartime censorship laws by making any open criticism of the president, Abdalkin was careful to remain ambiguous in a post accompanying his video of the speech, writing with obvious irony: “I fully endorse it, I fully agree, great performance. I haven’t seen anything like this in the past 23 years. I am pleasantly surprised.”