V. Putin fastens a Cold War, Soviet-style sports bra: straps like umbrella handles, indifferent material akin to upholstery, a clasp that pinches his upper excess as would an inebriated toothless granny. Yet the bra—and the leader—exude the kind of sturdy defiance one might expect from the products of a durable if blundering empire. The sports bra, however abrasive to his Caucasian epidermis, holds; the contraption creates a bloc; the bloc holds. Once supported, V. Putin can dress in formal attire, a rose pinned to his lapel. Not far away, a catering staff prowls around the diplomatic affair, offering small pours of spritzers. The catering staff offers small bites of salty cakes. “Wired”, notes an American spy, “every living soul electric.” The American spy thinks of the difference between “W” and “V”, the difference, in English, between Wladimir and Vladimir. In glides V. Putin. He crouches. Judo rises into his eyes; he performs virtual parries and slips; he takes virtual advantage of the momentum he perceives about the assembly: a pair of ladies drifting in glittery gowns. His expression crosses from feline hungry to feline kill, crosses back to feline hungry. V. Putin slides invisible armies across the great steppes of his mind, swift columns of vehicles governed by gritty throttles. Every sweet, doomed soldier resembles V. Putin, arriving at a pock-marked destination shaped, in advance, by the shortages of his
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