It’s Not Easy To Stay Awake When Putin Is Speaking

Several senior politicians visibly struggled to keep their eyes open during the Russian president’s speech, including the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state of the union address.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state of the union address.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Russia’s entire political elite filled the Grand Kremlin Palace for Putin’s speech, which is usually full ofdramatic pronouncements they greet with thunderous applause.

Russia's entire political elite filled the Grand Kremlin Palace for Putin's speech, which is usually full of dramatic pronouncements they greet with thunderous applause.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Putin started off with some harsh words for Turkey, Russia’s new public enemy number one after the country downed a Russian jet last week. “Allah decided to punish the Turkish elite by relieving them of their sense and judgement,” he said.

Putin started off with some harsh words for Turkey, Russia's new public enemy number one after the country downed a Russian jet last week. "Allah decided to punish the Turkish elite by relieving them of their sense and judgement," he said.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Attendees included Alexander “Surgeon” Zaldostanov, leader of the pro-Putin Night Wolves Biker gang.

Zaldostanov’s friend, the extravagantly coiffed lawmaker Valentina Petrenko, was also there.

You could also find prosecutor general Yuri Chaika, recently implicated in corruption allegations, staggering even for Russia, embroiling his family in deals with the country’s most notorious mafia murderers.

Igor Sechin, CEO of state oil giant Rosneft, also visibly struggled.

Many of those who stayed awake, like Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the upper house of parliament, clearly had a hard time doing it, as evidenced by the many prolonged absences of ovations.

After an hour, Putin ended his speech, and the hall rose for the national anthem. Lawmaker Nikolai Valuyev, a former heavyweight boxer, towered over the other officials.

Ordinary Russians, for whom Putin had little in the way of economic good news, turned their attentions elsewhere.

Ordinary Russians, for whom Putin had little in the way of economic good news, turned their attentions elsewhere.

Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images

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