Apparently the Russian love affair with Bill Clinton, mostly remembered during the Yeltsin years, is officially over. Certainly you can still find souvenir matryoshka nesting dolls in the likeness of Bill Clinton for sale at some street kiosks, but the days when Russians admired the saxophone playing, womanizing and vodka-loving American politician as one of us are gone.
During President Putin’s recent nationwide call-in show last Thursday, one caller asked Mr. Putin about American democracy, and about Hillary Clinton in particular.
Putin employed the old Russian proverb that the “Husband and wife are the same devil” in responding to the caller who asked his thoughts on current American presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Putin noted the length of time the Bush and Clinton families have been in power and opined, “Where is the diversity?” He avoided the obvious correlation to the tenure of Putin-Medvedev-Putin.
The annual live broadcast averages about 3.5 hours in length and is broadcast on all the major television and radio networks across Russia.
The Moscow Times reported that approximately three million questions were submitted for Putin’s traditional telephone marathon. The Presidential Press office selects which questions are asked during the show via studio guests, video messaging, telephone, or email.
During a January debate of Democratic presidential candidates, NBC anchor Lester Holt had asked Mrs. Clinton about her relationship with Putin to which she replied, “Well, my relationship with him, it’s um, it’s interesting.” Clinton went on to describe Putin as a bully.
Several members of the Russian Duma (parliament) have suggested that Mr. Putin place travel sanctions on Mrs. Clinton stemming from the arrest of a Russian pilot while she was the American Secretary of State.