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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Oligarch Roulette Puts New Spin on Trial

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One day Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was sitting in his Kremlin office with a deputy head of his administration, Igor Ivanovich Sechin, watching a live feed from Moscow's Meshchansky District Court. The judge, Irina Yuryevna Kolesnikova, was reading the verdict in the case of Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky and Platon Leonidovich Lebedev.

"If you only knew how nervous I am," Vladimir Vladimirovich said. "Well, let's do this." The two men walked to the center of Vladimir Vladimirovich's office where a large roulette table, brought in from a Moscow casino, had been set up the day before. They placed their bets using platinum chips with gold, double-headed eagles on the back. There was a small stack of chips on the 10 and another on the section for 5-8.

Vladimir Vladimirovich removed a small platinum box from his pocket, opened it and pulled out a white ball 1 centimeter in diameter, which he held over the roulette wheel. "Spin!" he said.

Igor Ivanovich set the heavy roulette wheel spinning. Vladimir Vladimirovich dropped the ball, which gaily skipped from number to number.

One day Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin arrived for work at the Kremlin. "Where is it today?" he asked his secretary as he entered his presidential office.

"Uzbekistan," the secretary replied as she handed Vladimir Vladimirovich several documents on a silver tray.

"Uzbekistan," Vladimir Vladimirovich repeated, taking the papers and settling into his presidential chair. "That means a telegram to Karimov, a Foreign Ministry statement, a Security Council meeting. The usual."

The secretary nodded, turned and left the office. Vladimir Vladimirovich began to read.

One day Vladimir Vladimirovich was sitting in his Kremlin office speaking with Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky, deputy speaker of the State Duma, on the presidential intercom. "Hey, pal," Vladimir Volfovich thundered. "It's time for decisive measures, up to and including the elimination of everyone who possesses state secrets!"

"Everyone? What about me and you?" Vladimir Vladimirovich asked, raising a presidential eyebrow.

"What about us!" Vladimir Volfovich shot back. "You've got to understand that it's all in the service of democracy and civil society."

Vladimir Vladimirovich sighed and hung up. "Why does it seem to me at times that he's right?" he mumbled.

Maxim Kononenko's satirical vignettes are found on his web site,