This Sunday morning, August 17 2014, sitting in his bathtub, he hummed to himself:
“You, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, didn’t do too badly.”
Vlad2: “But you can look at it differently too.”
Putin looked around bewilderedly.
Vlad1: “Huh ? Who is speaking to me ?”
Vlad2: “Me, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. You know, your conscience, who started you on this path after the fall of the USSR.”
Putin relaxed. His conscience ! It was so long ago that he had this talk with himself !
Vlad1: “Hi, Vlad2 ! What a surprise ! You are trying to second-guess me again ? Please tell me what I am doing wrong. Beware, I am grateful for your advice back then, but I am not used to criticism, and if you make me angry I may send you to Siberia.”
Vlad2: “Hi, Vlad1 ! This shows again that you don’t understand what a conscience is. We never tell what a person is doing wrong. We only ask questions. Tantalising questions. Questions that cause you never to sleep again at night. Besides, we never give in to threats.”
Vlad1: “Last time I heard from you was on Chechnya and Georgia. Boy, it took me a lot of vodka and women to finally get some sleep, but I succeeded, and I got those regions fixed.”
Vlad3: “I didn’t think those women were really that swell. You had too much vodka.”
Vlad1: “I am sorry ?”
Vlad2: “Huh, who is that ?”
Vlad3: “Well, I am just Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. You suggest that there are only Vlad1 and his conscience Vlad2, but you also know that I do not follow the rules. The world is not as simple as commonly thought, and certainly not the mind of the President of Russia. And I didn’t like your women.”
Vlad4: “I fully agree to that.”
Vald0: “And I protest that Vlad3 started counting at Vald1 and not at me, Vlad0. People always forget who provided the vodka.”
Vlad1: “Okay, okay, please relax, my dear Russian Presidents. I am overjoyed that this Ukraine crisis causes me to develop such a complex personality. My next thousand years seemed lonely but now I am looking forward to your company. But just now, I want to sit in this bathtub and decide whether I will invade the Ukraine or not. Well, I shouldn’t forget that I already did, by taking back the Crimea.”
Vlad2: “Well, I started out trying to be your conscience, and I feel that I should persist, whatever those Vlad3 and Vlad (n) say. Is there any way that you are going to bring some sense into the matter ? This Ukraine issue is pestering now for more than ten years. Shouldn’t these people be allowed to get a normal life ?”
Vlad3: “You cannot hold that what I say isn’t important. My opinion is that we all should give Vlad1 an ultimatum that he should decide what to do. He has been zig-zag-ing all year, being a host to the world in Sochi and now becoming some sort of pariah. I move that we stop zig-zag-ing. Either we take our big decision now, to invade or not to invade, or we can blame Vlad1 for the next thousand years that he is another bathtub failure of which history has given us plenty already.”
The President of Russia thought at this moment of his secret admiration of the uncompromising radical Jean-Paul Marat.
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation relented: “Okay. So what are my options ? Currently, I have made veiled threats, put troops at the border, censored the media, sent hundred thousands of people running, shot a plane, imposed sanctions, boycotted Holland and their shiny tomato’s, sent out my 278 white trucks. I cannot back down without looking silly and weak. The Ukrainean army is on the verge of destroying the Russian patriots, and if I allow this to happen then I will also betray my promises to them and to the Russian public. I will not only look silly and weak but will actually be so. Thus, there is only one option: to invade, and block the Ukrainean army. The only question is: how far will I go ? Just to the current front line ? This is a somewhat silly objective for such an invasion. If I invade, there should be a real purpose. Thus I should go all the way to the Dnieper and divide the country. The risk is that the other half then joins NATO. Kiev will be lost for the Russian Federation. Mother Russia weaps for losing Kiev.”
It was Putin himself who wept. His tear dropped in bathtub and joined the salty water of his earlier tears over the loss of the USSR.
Dmitry Medvedev: “There is also another option. You could call for a referendum or national elections in Russia. You against me. Ask all Russians whether they want you and war with the West or me and some form of Peace with Honour.”
Vlad1, Vlad3, Vlad4, Vlad (n): “What in Mother Russia’s name is Medvedev doing here ?”
Medvedev: “Wow, I thought everybody knew that I am only another figment of Putin. Well, big surprise for you then – except for Vlad2, I notice. But just to be sure: one way to get out of this mess is to call for a referendum or national elections in Russia.”
Vlad2, as always quick on the uptake in moral issues: “Let me see whether I get this correctly. We invade to the current frontline just to keep our promises to the Russian patriots. We also announce a referendum whether the Russian army should continue to the Dnieper to liberate the Eastern Ukraine from the Nazi regime in Kiev. We promise to step down as president if we lose. That wouldn’t be a loss of face with a needless massacre on the battlefield but a honorable part of democracy. You, Medvedev, will be the voice of reason, and argue for Peace with Honour. If you win the referendum, you could run for president, and continue to protect our interests. Do I understand you correctly ?”
Medvedev: “Democracy is an offer that you can’t refuse. I would insist on a free press though, to explain who shot down that plane, since I intend to win.”
Putin: “Hm, … I need to stay in this bathtub a bit longer to think this over. However, there is a knock on the door. Someone seems to want to come in with some message or so …”