International Women’s Day on Wednesday inspired marches, speeches, demonstrations, think-pieces — and it also apparently moved Vladimir Putin to dismount his horse and craft a poetic essay about the ladies of Russia.
In a post on the Kremlin’s website, Russia’s president spoke directly to women. “You fill this world with beauty and vitality, giving warmth and comfort, cordiality and harmony with your tenderness and generosity of spirit,” he wrote. “You care day and night for your children, grandchildren and your family. Even today, on International Women’s Day, you are still caught up in your routine, working tirelessly, always on time. We often ask ourselves, how do they manage it all?”
If only, Putin mused, all that work didn’t leave women frowning so much. “We will do our outmost to surround the women we love with care and attention, so that they can smile more often,” he wrote.
It was actually not the first time that Putin spoke about the subject on International Women’s Day. In 2004, he said that March 8 was “a day for celebrating women, a day for celebrating goodness, wisdom, beauty and spiritual strength.” In 2015, he noted that “A well-known expression says, ‘to drink it in with your mother’s milk.’ The sense of individual self-awareness and first skills in interacting with the world around us are things we learn from women.”
Oh, also on Putin:
- According to German intelligence reports, Putin was a “philanderer and a wifebeater,” during his time leading KGB operations in West Germany.
- Just last month, he signed a highly controversial law that partially decriminalized domestic violence. It is now legal for a man to assault a woman once — just not repeatedly.
- In 2012, three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot were charged with hooliganism and jailed in Russia after performing in a church.
- In 2011, Putin said in response to criticism from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “It’s better not to argue with women, but Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements … When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”
- In 2006, when Israel’s then-President Moshe Katsav was accused of rape, Putin joked, “What a mighty man he turns out to be! He raped 10 women — I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all — we all envy him!”
But smile, ladies! President Putin commands it.