As Russia heads for December parliamentary polls followed by March presidential elections expected to give Vladimir Putin a third Kremlin mandate, Russians are indulging in increasingly cynical jokes about their leader.
Many Russians say Putin has robbed them of the choice to democratically elect a leader and fear he will remain in power for two more six-year terms until 2024.
By that time he would be 72 and the longest-serving Moscow leader since dictator Joseph Stalin.
Here are some of the jokes making the rounds in Russia:
- Who are you going to vote for: Putin or Putin?
- I'm so sick of them all, I'll vote for Putin.
- February 2012, a sign on the wall of a polling station: "Sunday, March 4 is the date for the elections of Russian President Vladimir Putin."
- Hello, you've reached Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. If you wish to speak to Dmitry Anatolyevich (Medvedev), press "two."
- Even journalists don't feel comfortable calling Medvedev the president of Russia. They just call him President Medvedev.
- A referendum in 2012 asks: Do you agree to give another term to: 1/ Vladimir Putin, 2/ (Jailed oligarch) Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Vladimir Putin: "I am fine with both."
- A hospital announces a change of linen for its patients. "The patients in the second ward will all swap with those in the third ward."
- The Federal Guard Service, in charge of protecting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, detains an activist who is handing out leaflets on Red Square.
The man is taken to the security service's Lubyanka headquarters for a search, when his detainers spot that all the leaflets are blank.
"Why are they blank, then?" the man is asked.
"Why bother? Everything is clear anyway."
- Putin said he would run for a third term because he still has some friends from school and college who are out of a job.
- Television news bulletin lengthily sings the praises of Putin. "And finally it's time for the weather forecast. Today Vladimir Putin visited the offices of the State Weather Forecasting Services..."