The New York Times reports that, despite viciously attacking Americans for their interest in Bill Clinton's personal life and their failure to take action to correct American "aggression" in Yugoslavia and Iraq, Russians when given the chance ignored issueslike Chechnya and racism (to say nothing of plunging population) in favor of personal questions about Putin and bizarre ramblings about science fiction, indicating Russians (at least those with access to the Internet, granted a limited group due to Russia's impoverished financial state) are unhinged from reality.
President Vladimir V. Putin went digital on Thursday, participating in an online question-answer session with Russian and foreign internet users. The forum, which was organized by the popular Russian web-browser Yandex.ru and the BBC, lasted 2 hours 10 minutes, Gazeta reported, during which time the president answered about 40 questions. The president promised to answer more of the 162,000 questions he received at another time, Gazeta said. According to Vremya Novostei, the most popular questions submitted by participants related to Mr. Putin's personal life. One user asked when the president lost his virginity. Another frequently asked question was whether Russia would legalize marijuana, Izvestia reported. Mr. Putin responded saying that "Russia is an adherent to an international agreement which considers marijuana among those drugs that are officially forbidden."When allowed to vote on which questions Putin should be asked, in the early going it was reported that "nearly a million Russian had voted on some 140,000 questions for the Russian leader, including some offbeat ones. The top vote getter asks whether Russia would use humanoid robots to defend itself." In the end, that question ended up in second place and the most popular question was "about "Medved," a voyeuristic bear that has appeared in a sexually explicit drawing popular in Russian Internet circles. Twenty-nine thousand Internet users wanted to know Putin's opinion of Medved." In fourth place "at 16,682 votes, was a pointed inquiry about Cthulhu, the octopus-like creature that sleeps at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Cthulhu was hatched by the American writer H.P. Lovecraft. 'What is your opinion about waking up Cthulhu?' Viktor, 29, of Moscow, wrote in to the president."