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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paperback 'Puppets'

"Kukly" ("Puppets") is one of the most talked-about Russian television shows. Every week, the cast of caricature puppets mercilessly satirize the nation's top leaders. Now, "Kukly" can not only be seen on NTV Independent Television, but can also be read in book form.

Vagrius, a leading independent publisher, last week released a 300-page edition of Kukly. It consists of 33 scenarios, written over the last 20 months by Viktor Shenderovitch, the famous satirist and creator of the program, in collaboration with Alain Duverne and Basile Grigoriev of France.

"Our distributors suggested at first that we print 1,000 copies of the book for the sake of history," said Gleb Uspensky, director of Vagrius.

But the publishers gambled instead on an initial printing of 30,000 pocket-sized paperbacks, which are selling for 10,000 rubles ($2).

The book only features sketches which have already appeared on television. However, they are printed in their original version which differs, sometimes quite substantially, from the broadcast version. In the foreword, Shenderovitch explains, this was at times due to "technical reasons" and at others due to the censor's pen.

Last year, former Russian prosecutor general Alexei Ilushenko tried to suppress "Kukly" on the grounds it was insulting and slanderous.

NTV, with the assistance of many prominent public figures, launched a campaign in support of the show. NTV not only successfully fought back the attack, but helped win the dismissal of Ilushenko from his job.

Still, Shenderovitch felt it necessary to write in the foreword to the book: "I am now a scared man and I would like to inform all interested parties and organizations in advance that we did not intend deliberately to offend or shock, that we are not politically hostile to the government, and that this book is in no part funded by money from abroad."