In the dear old USSR (still late and unlamented except by President Putin and his Chekists) people who achieved anything in, let us say, sport or literature or any other field, were "elected" to the national or the federal (one gets a little tired of all those quotation marks) Supreme Soviets. Alexander Tvardovsky, of whom I wrote recently, describes in all seriousness in his diaries one such "election campaign" that, oddly enough, resulted in an overwhelming victory for him.
This habit was replicated in the People's Democracies (is that where UKIP got its recent slogans from?). Members of the famous Hungarian football team, for instance, were not just officers in the People's Army but deputies in the People's Parliament.
One wonders whether people who keep telling us that we ought to have politicians who have achieved things in other walks of life first would like to emulate that habit though, I must warn them, all these things are so much easier if there is nobody to oppose you in the election. (Mind you, I suspect that Major Puskás would have been elected in a free and fair contest as well.)
Now we find out that Alina Kabayeva, a former Olympic gymnast and President Putin's supposed girl-friend, has been an MP for his United Russia party. Just to remind us of the dear old days:
Kabayeva spent more than six years as an MP, one of many high-achievers in the sports and entertainment fields to represent Putin's United Russia party, before announcing on Monday she was stepping down from parliament to take up control of the media holding.For that is what Ms Kabayeva going to do: take up controlling position in the National Media Group, which "owns 25% of Channel One, Russia's main state-controlled television channel, and also owns stakes in other channels and newspapers, including a majority share of the influential Izvestia daily. The group is controlled by Yuri Kovalchuk, a longstanding friend of Putin who was sanctioned by the US earlier this year due to his closeness to the Russian president".
A spokeswoman for the group confirmed Kabayeva's appointment but did not give details about when she would start, or what qualifications she had for the role. She previously hosted a television chat show but is not thought to have any experience in media management.Undoubtedly, this should be welcomed by all those people in the West, many of them in the Eurosceptic community (whatever that might be these days) who prefer to take their news from the Russian state controlled media.