The problems of political namesakes and how to perform plastic surgery on Putin


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

We’ve reached the ‘what’s going on with Vladimir Putin’s cheeks?’ stage of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Rumors about the Russian president’s health have been swirling for a long time, with the Kremlin having to repeatedly deny that he’s dead. (Putin’s not a laugh-a-minute kind of guy so when he does go he’s unlikely to copy comedy legend Spike Milligan’s famous epitaph: “I told you I was ill.”)

The latest round of claims about Putin’s health involves his puffy cheeks, with suggestions that he’s either been attacked by a swarm of bees or has been using whatever “butt filler” is (no, you Google that on your work computer!).

Imagine being Putin’s plastic surgeon and having to make a man not exactly known for his movie-star good looks — earlier this year it was reported that a group of Russian lawyers was planning a lawsuit against Harry Potter producers Warner Bros over similarities between Putin and the CGI-generated “Chamber of Secrets” character Dobby the elf — look better! Your hands would be shaking during the procedure as you’d know that if you fail to make him look like the Russian version of Brad Pitt, you’ll likely be found dead after ‘accidentally’ cutting your head off while cleaning your teeth.

Changing your appearance is not a massive problem that needs fixing in the upper echelons of Portuguese politics, but changing names could be a good idea following the corruption scandal that led to Prime Minister António Costa handing in his resignation (although he will remain the country’s caretaker leader until snap elections are held in March 2024).

Among the allegations that have surfaced in recent days is a claim from a defense attorney that the António Costa mentioned on a wiretap submitted as evidence in the prosecutor’s case is not the prime minister at all, but the similarly named economy minister, António Costa Silva.

Surely there needs to be a U.N. ruling that prevents two people with almost the same name from working together! In Ukraine, there’s Olga Stefanishyna — the deputy prime minister for EU and Euroatlantic integration — and Olha Stefanyshyna, a member of parliament.

This has been a long-running issue. In 1907 (this column first with the news as always), two men called John F. Fitzgerald ran to be mayor of Boston. And in elections about to take place in India, Devireddy Sudheer Reddy faces tough competition from, er, Devireddy Sudheer Reddy.

It’s not a problem that has to be dealt with by Young Boozer, the state treasurer of Alabama.


“The ghost of Christmas shite.”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter/X @pdallisonesque

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Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“Then, once you’ve changed the laws in your country to best suit my company’s needs, I’ll add you to my payroll with a nice paycheck a few months after you leave office!” by V.E.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s deputy EU editor.

The post The problems of political namesakes and how to perform plastic surgery on Putin appeared first on Politico.

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