On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held his 15th annual 'Direct Line' Q & A call-in session. It's a highly staged event that includes Putin babies, discussion on potholes, and answering questions from the Russian people. Russians can submit questions through the show’s website, over the phone or as a text message. Kremlin officials said almost 2 million questions were submitted this year and with any political event anywhere they are prescreened for their benefit. Someone had the idea to have the text message questions appear on screen throughout the broadcast. For a country ranked 148th out of 180 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index you would expect a thorough vetting process to avoid unseemly content. If it was the overwhelming number of messages or a rogue producer vetting of messages was not efficient leading to a unique moment in Russian State Ran Media.
Some of the Texts displaced
"Putin, do you really think the people believe in this circus with phony questions?"
"Three presidential terms is enough"
"Is it true that Navalny is making his next film about you?"
“When will you stop violating constitutional limit of two presidential terms?”
"When you say “we don’t betray our own,” does that apply to kleptocrats and corrupt officials?"
"Where is Medvedev? You Should Vaccinate Him!”
"The whole of Russia thinks you've been sitting on your throne for too long"
"Putin, do you really think people believe in this circus of stage questions"
"When are you going to stop violating the clause of the constitution about two-term limits?"
"Maybe you're tired and you need a rest?"
In the second hour of the four hour event the text messages that were popping up in the right hand corner seemed have slowed down. But expanded shots of the studio did however show a large screen also relaying the messages, some of which also got past Kremlin vetting. From the screen's in the studio it's easy to imagine Putin spotting a message or two while on the air. Either way I can imagine a couple of people having a worse day than me.