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Communist Leader Tries Hand at Cracking Jokes

Published: April 3, 2007 (Issue # 1259)


MOSCOW Gennady Zyuganov rattled out joke after joke at a news conference Thursday, but was only met with the occasional polite chuckle from attending journalists.

The Communist Party leaders jokes went along these lines: There are two main problems in Russia: roads and fools. In the Duma, one is trying to fix the other.

Zyuganov, better known for his firebrand speeches than for his sense of humor, was speaking during the release of a book of jokes to tie in with April Fools Day on Sunday.

With State Duma elections just nine months away, Zyuganov used the book to poke fun at his biggest political adversary, United Russia.

The pocket-sized book, 100 Jokes From Zyuganov, has dozens of jokes about the pro-Kremlin party and President Vladimir Putin and is accompanied by cartoons of a bear the symbol of United Russia looking intermittently aggressive, dopey and sulky.

But the most personal joke in the book is the one about an aide who rings up President Boris Yeltsin the day after the presidential election and asks what he wants to hear: the good or the bad news.

Yeltsin takes a tranquilizer, has a glass of vodka and begins to sweat. Lets have the bad news, he says.

Zyuganov got 62 percent.

As his shaky hand moves for the pistol, Yeltsin asks, What is the good news?

You won. You got 75 percent.

Zyuganov, after leading Yeltsin by a clear margin, lost the 1996 presidential election in a race that the Communists say was fixed.

The book was put together by Zyuganovs press secretary, Alexander Yushchenko, who writes in the foreword that Zyuganov would always cheer up his party activists on long train trips by telling jokes. A total of 20,000 copies of the book have been printed.

Zyuganovs performance Thursday wasnt exactly stand-up comedy. For a start, he sat down. While he told jokes, a short man stood in a bears costume to his right carrying a poster advertising Zyuganovs book and wearing a bandage over his jaws, as if to keep him from talking or biting.

The Communist leader tried to please the journalists each was given a free box of honey, too but a tough crowd is a tough crowd, especially when they are hearing jokes that probably only sound funny on the second day of a train journey.

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Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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