April 13, 2020

Meet Russia's Newest Meme: Pechenegs


Meet Russia's Newest Meme: Pechenegs
If Russia can overcome these guys, it can overcome coronavirus. Skyllitzes Matritensis, fol. 173r, detail. Public domain.

Like many world leaders, Putin has gone on TV to provide some comfort to his citizens in this crazy time of global pandemic. What he couldn't have anticipated, however, was an uproarious internet response.

In the address last week, Putin said

“Everything passes and this too will pass. Our country has been through serious tests more than once: when tormented by the Pechenegs and the Cumans, Russia coped with everything."

The choice of the relatively obscure Pechenegs and Cumans (the latter being "Polovtsy" for all you non-medievalists out there), both semi-nomadic Turkic peoples who entered what is now southern Russia and Ukraine in the early medieval period, drew some bewilderment. After all, Russia suffered, similar, more recent, and, arguably, greater trials against Vikings, Mongols, Teutons, the French, Turks, Japanese, Poles, Cossacks, Swedes, Finns, and, of course, Germany.

In response, the Russian corners of the internet have exploded with some delightful memes. And, it seems, a sense of relief that Putin isn't comparing coronavirus to the Great Patriotic War.

 "Natasha, are you asleep?"
"The Polovtsy have tormented us."
"And the Pechenegs have tormented us, Natash."
"And, frankly speaking, the coronavirus infection, Natash."

 

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