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Russia: Fires, Rynda and Putin Create Internet Meme

Rynda. Image by Arek1979

The coverage of Russian fires on the blogosphere took a different – less pessimistic – turn when notorious Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin replied to one of the posts on LiveJournal, popular blogging platform in the country, and, inadvertently, created a new Internet meme called “rynda.”

The story started with a highly popular blog post by LJ user top-lap re-posted by Aleksey Venediktov, highly respected editor-in-chief of Russian radio station “Echo Moskvy,” on the radio station's website [RUS].

In an introduction to the post, Venediktov addressed Vladimir Putin:

Уважаемый Владимир Владимирович,
Знаете ли Вы, что народ негодует по поводу работы правительства по тушению пожаров в регионах РФ? В лицо Вам, конечно, никто не скажет, но Интернет полон критики и негодования.
В частности, многие жители пострадавших регионов в своих блогах весьма нелестным образом отзываются о том, что делается Вашим правительством.
Вот образчик одного еще не самого резкого выступления в Интернете.
Что бы Вы ответили этому человеку?

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
Do you know that people are angry about the job the government does to put out fires in the regions of Russia? Of course, nobody will tell it to you in your face but the Internet is full of criticism and anger.
In particular, many inhabitants of the affected region in their blogs tell about what your government does in not flattering way.
This is an example of one, not the harshest, post on the Internet.
What will you reply to this man?

Venediktov continued with the copy of the full post by top-lap. Below are the excerpts of the post:

Знаете, почему горим? Потому что п**дец. [...] В деревне при м**аках коммунистах, которых все ругают было три пожарных пруда, висела рында, в которую били если начинался пожар и о чудо была пожарная машина, одна на три деревни правда, но была. И вот пришли господа демократы и начался п**дец, первое что сделали – это засыпали пруды и продали эти места под застройку, пожарную машину тоже куда то дели, наверно инопланетяне с**здили, а рынду заменили на телефон (модернизация б**дь), только он ни х** не работает, потому что забыли подключить. Остался пожарник правда у него ничего нет кроме шлема и робы, которые остались еще от всех тех же плохих коммунистов.

Do you know why we're burning? Because it is a f…-up. [...] In my village under communists – who are being criticized by everyone now – there were three fire ponds, rynda [apparently, old Russian word "rynda" means a small bell used to signal important events in a village, this word will later turn out to be critical in the post and later discussions - GV] that people would ring in case of fire and – oh, miracle – fire truck, one for three villages but at least there was a fire truck. And then democrats came and that is when a f…-up started. They leveled the fire ponds with the ground and sold that ground for construction projects. They did something to the fire truck, maybe aliens stole it, and the rynda was replaced (f…ing modernization) with a telephone that doesn't work because they forgot to connect it to the line. A firefighter stayed but he doesn't have anything except a helmet and robe left after the same bad communists

Top-lap continued with describing how the lack of basic resources makes it impossible to put out the fires effectively.  Full with frustration and anger, the blogger asks questions:

У меня вопрос.
Куда уходят наши деньги? Почему мы с каждым годом все дальше и дальше скатываемся к первобытному строю общества? На х** нам какой то инновационный центр в Сколково, если у нас пожарных машин элементарных нет. Почему раньше были такие люди как лесники, которые предупреждали возгорание и оперативно доносили информацию до пожарных, тем самым не допуская огонь до населенных пунктов. Я не хочу телефон в деревне, я хочу пожарные пруды и мою рынду обратно, верните мне б**дь рынду и выкопайте мне пруд, я сам за ним следить буду и наполнять, если администрации района впадлу этим заниматься, просто выдайте мне место.

I have a question. Where does our money go? Why every year we slide further and further toward a primitive society? Why do we need a f…ing innovation center in Skolkovo [more about this project here [RUS] – GV] if we don't even have fire trucks? Why before we had such people as forest rangers who would warn firefighters about fires and did not allow those fires to spread and affect villages. I don't want a telephone in a village. I want fire ponds and my rynda back. Give my f…ing rynda back and dig me a pond. I will take care of the pond myself and I will fill it with water if a local administration doesn't want to do it. Just give me a place.

Criticizing local authorities and advocating self-government, top-tap proposes:

Освободите меня от налогов или просто уберите отчисления в пенсионный фонд, я все равно не доживу до пенсии по такой жизни, а на эти деньги куплю пожарную машину на три деревни и буду спать спокойно, зная, что ее уже никто не отберет ее у моего народа, моих соседей сельчан, потому что она сука будет наша и мы за нее убьем, если нужно будет.

Liberate me from taxes and from my contributions to a pension fund. With this kind of life, I am not going to live long enough to collect pension benefits anyway. I will take this money and buy one fire truck for three villages and then I will sleep peaceful knowing nobody will take it from my people, my neighbors, because the truck will be f…ing ours and we will kill for it if need be.

Top-tap concludes with a cry:

Верните мне б**дь мою рынду, суки, и заберите свой телефон нах**.

Give me my f…ing rynda back and take your f…ing telephone.

This emotional and linguistically creative post could have stayed as one of millions of complains against the government in Russian blogosphere if radio station “Echo Moskvy” did not receive an official reply from Vladimir Putin:

Уважаемый пользователь,
Сегодня в конце рабочего дня, вдыхая, как и все москвичи, дым горящих подмосковных лесов, с большим интересом и удовольствием ознакомился с Вашей оценкой ситуации, которая сложилась в центральной России с лесными пожарами.
Справедливости ради, надо отметить, что таких высоких температур в России на протяжении 140 лет, а значит, и при коммунистах, не было.

Dear User,
today, at the end of a work day, breathing in, as all Moskovites, the smoke of burning suburban forests, I with great interest and pleasure acquainted myself with your assessment of the situation that occurred in central Russia due to the forest fires.
For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that Russia did not experience such high temperatures for the last 140 years and, hence, it did not occur under communists.

That fact, according to Putin, partially eliminated that blame put by people on the government. Putin's reply finishes with positive outlook on the future and a promise to return rynda to the blogger:

Несмотря на все проблемы и трудности, надеюсь, до пенсии мы с Вами все-таки дотянем.
Все необходимые денежные средства на преодоление последствий стихийного бедствия и решение других неотложных проблем уже направлены из федерального бюджета на счета пострадавших субъектов Российской Федерации.
При наличии Вашего адреса рынду получите у губернатора незамедлительно.
Искренне Ваш, В.Путин.

Despite of all the problems and hardships, I hope we live to collect our pension benefits.
All finances required to prevent the aftermath of this natural disaster and resolve other pressing problems have already been transferred from a federal budget to the accounts of affected subjects of the Russian Federation.
If you provide your address, you can receive your rynda from your governor immediately.
Sincerely yours,
V. Putin

Needless to say, Putin's unexpected and half-serious reply created a wave of jokes among RuNet users. Previously largely unknown word “rynda” became a new popular meme symbolizing the struggle against Russian fires and inability of current local administrations to handle the natural disaster appropriately. “Rynda” also became a subject of political cartoons:

“Abramovich? Hello! Listen, do you have a rynda on your yacht? See, the thing is… You have to return it.”

Apparently, the popularity of the “Echo Moskvy” website soared after Putin's reply. LJ user teh_nomad claimed [RUS] that 50,000 people visited the site withing the first two hours after the reply was published.

UPDATE: As of December 25, 2010, the LJ account of top-lap has been disabled. The cashed blog entries before the account suspension indicate that the blogger was complaining about Russian police threatening him. Apparently, he was visited by the authorities who took away his memory stick and hard drive. In the last entry he claimed that he was about being arrested and wanted to flee.

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