Putin’s exit sparks ridicule on Twitter
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s abrupt departure from a testy G20 summit in Australia under the pretext of having to get some sleep sparked ridicule on social media, with wits also predicting that a koala may win a government post in Russia.
The Kremlin strongman, a judo black belt who prides himself on his stamina and his action-man image, left before the final communique from the weekend talks was issued, telling reporters it would take at least 18 hours to return home from Brisbane and that he needed to get some sleep before reporting to work on Monday.
“We need nine hours to fly from here to Vladivostok and another nine hours from Vladivostok to Moscow,” he told Russian said.
“Then we need to get home and return to work on Monday. There’s a need to sleep at least four to five hours,” he said. “I said goodbye to some colleagues.”
Speaking just before leaving, he thanked Tony Abbott for hosting the event, despite the Australian prime minister threatening to confront him over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.
Putin said his decision to leave early had nothing to do with tensions with the West over the Ukraine conflict.
But skeptics were not convinced, suggesting Putin was offended by the icy reception from Western leaders in Brisbane.
“After all Putin fled from Australia,” quipped MID Roissi, a satirical Twitter account that parodies the Russian foreign ministry feed.
“President Putin did not like it in Australia: unlike 146 percent of Russians, the rest of the world does not love him.”
Another popular Twitter account, referring to the Russian president’s photo-op which saw him cuddle a koala, said: “There is a false impression that at the G-20 summit Vladimir Putin conducted a meeting only with a koala.
“This is not true. There were also two kangaroos.”
Others were more gracious, saying Putin’s koala may now be awarded a top government post and become part of the “first coalition government” under Putin.
“If the koala that hugged Putin becomes an envoy or governor then we will finally be able to adore authorities,” tweeted opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been held under house arrest since February.
Australian tabloid The Courier-Mail, which demanded that Putin apologize for the shooting down of Flight MH17, described the Russian leader as a “political pariah” and the “black sheep of the G-20 family.”
The newspaper said Putin was isolated at the summit, adding that protesters kicked beach balls bearing a photo of his head, waved Ukrainian flags soaked in “blood” and sang Ukrainian folks songs.
Putin faces Western wrath for his support of a pro-Moscow separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine in a crisis that has sent East-West tensions soaring to post-Cold War highs.
The West and Kiev say Russian troops are on the ground in Ukraine but the Kremlin has denied the claims.