Russia’s sidelined Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was mercilessly mocked by bloggers Saturday after apparently falling asleep during the high-octane ceremony to open the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Medvedev served as Russian president between 2008 to 2012 but has been a largely marginal figure since moving to prime minster when his mentor Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012.
Russian state television footage uploaded onto YouTube shows Medvedev abruptly closing his eyes and nodding his head just before the Games are about to be declared open Friday evening.
He was sitting in the VIP stand at the Fisht stadium close to Putin and dozens of world leaders who attended the ceremony to support their athletes.
Anti-Kremlin bloggers seized on the chance to mock Medvedev, who briefly raised hopes of imposing serious reform while Kremlin chief but now has for many become a figure of fun.
A sarcastic popular hashtag appeared in Russian “PodderzhimDimu” — “Let’s support Dima”. Dima is the short version of the Russian name Dmitry.
One picture being posted showed just a black square with the slogan: “The Olympics through the eyes of Medvedev”.
Another showed his sleeping head in the place of the fifth Olympic ring that failed to appear in a glitch at the start of the ceremony.
“The ballerina Vishneva dances to quiet calm music, so as not to wake up Medvedev,” said the prominent anonymous blogger KermlinRussia, referring to the ballerina Diana Vishneva who was one of the stars of the show.
Others pointed out that Medvedev would have woken up to a performance of the ballet “Swan Lake” — which in Soviet times was unusually a signal of a coup or death of a leader when it was shown on television.
One blogger has already created a spoof account called “The Sleeping Medvedev”. “Sleep is good for your health,” it says. “Good morning the country! I have woken up!” it adds.
The furore is particularly ironic given that while president Medvedev became the first Russian leader to embrace Twitter and other social networks, sending a now notorious “Hi Everyone!” as his first tweet.
His official account @MedvedevRussia was predictably silent on the affair Saturday, with his last tweet a photo of the start of the opening ceremony.
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