I know. It’s only a fridge magnet. But it encapsulates the whole Putin-Trump/Russia-America saga. After six months of Donald Trump in the White House, Russians are beginning to feel that their country enjoys considerable influence over America.
One fridge magnet in particular caught my eye. It looks just like a $100 bill but, in place of the American founding father Benjamin Franklin, there is a portrait of Vladimir Putin.
You can tell a lot from Russian fridge magnets. This week’s selection includes several different “Vladimir Putin in military camouflage” magnets, complete with patriotic slogans, like: “Together we are a force to be reckoned with!” and “We will always look out for our guys!”
The art of Kremlinology has moved on since then. And I’m proud to say I’ve come up with my own 21st Century method for keeping up to date with the current thinking in the corridors of Russian power: it involves walking to the train station opposite the BBC Moscow office, going up to the souvenir stand and looking at the fridge magnets on sale.
There was a time when to work out what was happening in Moscow you needed to read between the lines in Pravda, or look at the line-up of Soviet officials at a Red Square parade and study who was standing next to whom.