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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Troubles Loom for a Well-Funded Satirist

One day, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was sitting in his Kremlin office and reading an article written by candidate of economics and political columnist Yulia Leonidovna Latynina in the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

"Let's take the web site," Vladimir Vladimirovich read. "I was told by people in the know that the site was bought by a middleman close to Surkov. After the purchase, Surkov become the wisest guy in the Kremlin in the site's popular vignettes."

" Hmm ... "

Vladimir Vladimirovich immediately pushed a button on the intercom and called up deputy chief of staff of his administration Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov.

"Listen, pal," said Vladimir Vladimirovich. "This Latynina lady writes here that you bought a web site from that numbskull. And that you're now the wisest guy in the Kremlin."

"That's a lie," Vladislav Yuryevich replied. "A bald-faced lie, just like always."

"So you didn't buy it?" Vladimir Vladimirovich asked suspiciously.

"Everyone knows who the wisest guy in the Kremlin is," Vladislav Yuryevich replied.

"Well, why don't you tell me who?" Vladimir Vladimirovich asked in surprise.

"You, pal," Vladislav Yuryevich stated confidently.

"I don't get it," Vladimir Vladimirovich said. "What, are you insinuating that I bought that stupid site?"

"I can't really say for sure who did," Vladislav Yuryevich sputtered. "I need to give good old Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky a call. Maybe they bankrolled the deal. Oh, and then of course there's that darn Leonid Nevzlin ..."

"Pal, doesn't it seem like the hack has finally crossed the line and gotten way too cheeky?" Vladimir Vladimirovich said quietly. "Everybody's paying him: the two of us, the oligarchs. Where does that leave us?"

"And then we have that democratic activist character, Konstantin Borovoi," Vladislav Yuryevich exclaimed.

"Geez, even Borovoi?" Vladimir Vladimirovich chimed in.

"Yeah, it's pretty strange," Vladislav Yuryevich mumbled.

"Say, pal," Vladimir Vladimirovich said even more quietly. "Has the web site guy been paying his taxes?"

"We'll find out," Vladislav Yuryevich whispered.

And the two men hung up.

Maxim Kononenko is an online satirist and commentator.