The Kremlin would like you all to know that Vladimir Putin is a hot commodity—and not at all an aging dictator—and that his interview with Tucker Carlson was such a blockbuster hit that Ukraine might as well throw in the towel.
Carlson may have left the country days ago, but Moscow also now seems to be using his sit-down with the Russian leader to celebrate Putin’s inevitable victory in the upcoming presidential election.
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of Putin’s United Russia party, took to the podium of the State Duma on Tuesday to boast of how many people tuned in to watch the Russian leader speak.
“All [political] factions, in one way or another, are talking about the main event of recent days: Tucker Carlson’s interview with the president of our country,” Nikonov said.
“It really is the most discussed world event, both in the world of politics and the world of information. We all understand very well that on the X platform alone, more than 200 million people watched this interview. That means that in the world, I would estimate the number of those who listened attentively to our president as at least one billion people,” he said.
“Thanks to this event, Vladimir Putin, of course, has become the top global newsmaker of the year,” Nikonov said, going on to reveal what was perhaps the Kremlin’s true intention all along: “The West must now find ways to save face by finding paths to start negotiations.”
Carlson, he noted, has left “but promised to return.”
And any Russians who missed the interview may soon have a chance (or be forced?) to watch the two-hour trainwreck in movie theaters: the mayor of at least one city has arranged a free showing. Sergei Voropanov, the mayor of Vologda, has commandeered a local theater to air the interview for those who haven’t seen it yet, he announced on Telegram.
Free screenings have also been proposed elsewhere. Mikhail Isayev, the speaker of the Saratov Regional Duma, suggested showing school children the interview in theaters throughout the region, declaring that the “truth about the inevitability of victory” must be heard from movie screens.
Viewers will not, however, get to see the informal chat that took place between Putin and Carlson after the interview, a conversation confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.
“It was brief,” Peskov assured curious reporters.
Elsewhere, the Kremlin is taking great pains to keep up the appearance of Putin’s overwhelming popularity. Sergei Nechaev, Russia’s ambassador to Germany, was quoted telling RBC on Tuesday that diplomats have asked local authorities to block any anti-Putin protests outside the embassy on the day of the presidential election.
“We know that anti-Russian rallies are being prepared. German authorities were asked to take comprehensive security measures. We insist on a ban on holding mass rallies in the immediate vicinity of diplomatic missions in order to avoid clashes and threats to voters,” he said.