The Moscow Times reported this prank yesterday. The concept for the clip was simple. A man placed a large, official looking portrait of President Vladimir Putin in the elevator of his building along with a camera that recorded people’s reactions as the elevator doors opened. He then edited together the highlights to create this clip.
The reactions are great. One older man gave the painting the Russian equivalent of a raspberry. A young woman filming with her phone said, “This is the worst thing that could happen to our building after the renovation.” An older woman was more blunt, “Holy f***! What idiot put that up?” Then there are the two young women who decide to take a selfie with one of them bowing in mock-supplication before the portrait. Several of the people seem convinced they are being watched by the portrait itself. Others note the camera in the elevator and appear to restrain themselves. Here’s the shorter version of the clip published by the Moscow Times:
The prankster behind it isn’t named in the clip but you do see his face. That seems rather bold given that this clip has now attracted millions of views from around the world. I guess he’s not too worried but maybe he should be. Yesterday the New York Post reported on the gruesome death of a Putin critic in France:
An outspoken blogger who routinely attacked Russia and Chechnya has been found dead in a French hotel with his throat slit and 100 stab wounds — and police suspect a “political motivation,” according to reports…
The murder “bears all the characteristics of having a political motivation,” a source close to the investigation told AFP.
There’s a slightly longer version of the clip published by Radio Free Europe. In this version the faces of the people on the elevator are blurred. I also located the original clip which is even longer. This is in Russian and there are no subtitles available but you can still understand most of the reactions:
The prankster has also released a follow-up clip today which includes additional reactions that weren’t in the first video. I wonder if Russia’s supreme leader for life has seen this and, if so, how he reacted to this prank.
Finally, lots of people reacting to the clip on Twitter and YouTube are demanding an American version of the prank with a portrait of Trump instead of Putin. I suspect one of the late night hosts is already working on it.