Putin pimps his Russian ride

Drive a ZiL: Puts the authority back into authoritarianism.

Putin’s new ZiL: The T-90 tank of limosine-class automobiles.

Carolyn Grant

I think we have known each other long enough, loyal readers, where you know who my favourite dictator is.

Yes, I flirted briefly with Kim Jung Il — how couldn’t you just love him to bits with his chubby cheeks and personal brand of megalomania? We’re coming up on the anniversary of the beloved leader’s death this month and I’m pretty sure his son Kim Jung Un will mark the occasion well.

By the way, the U.S. satire newspaper the Onion recently announced they had chosen Kim Jung Un as the Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. The Onion says, and I quote, “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.”

Heh. That’s pretty good. So good in fact, that the People’s Daily, the website for the Chinese Communist Party,  published a story congratulating Kim Jung Un on his accomplishment. I bet they’re blushing now. That’s why they call it red China.  Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

In any event, the photo accompanying the Onion article was of Kim Jung Un on a horse. And that’s what got my dander up.

There’s only one dictator that can sit a horse with the proper macho attitude and that’s Vladimir Putin, my favourite dictator. Putin owns the rights to sitting atop a horse surveying his domain. Although at least Kim Jung Un spared us the bare chest (thankfully).

But speaking of Putin and horses, the Russian icon of all that is manly will be harnessing a bit of extra horsepower this Christmas, in the form of his new, Russian-built limousine. Note: Russian built except for the engine and transmission which were built in the United States.

This all part of a Putin-led Made in Russia campaign where the President then Prime Minister then President for Life has suggested his people opt for Russian made products (except for engines and transmissions).

Putin’s new wheels were made by the same company that used to produce limos for the Soviet dictators — ZiL. And ZiL has pimped Putin’s ride to the extent that he will be the envy of every dictator — which is quite an accomplishment since ZiL has been out of business for 20 years.

In any event, Putin’s got his limo. It weighs 3.5 tonnes, so I’m not going to lie to you and say it corners well. Nor will I make the error of claiming superior gas mileage.

And while Putin may be justifiably proud of his new wheels, I can’t claim definitively that it’s a handsome vehicle.

It has a certain boxy charm, I guess. In fact, one could probably trace its Russian roots back to the T series tanks produced in WW 2. It has that particular brute force look so favoured by strongmen.

But inside it’s every dictator’s dream with a retractable throne… er, seat that folds out at the push of a button, along with lush upholstery and wood accents. Built in bar — all the bells and whistles.

I bet it has a premium sound system too. I wonder what Putin likes to listen to while he’s cruising around the Motherland. I’m guessing it’s not Pussy Riot.