...and replace it with the old Soviet flag. "Comrades, we
have another proposal about changing the flag," Putin tells his advisors, "but this one is quite a bit more attractive, and I think we should consider it. But first, tell me--how much time do we have left on the current flag contract with Coca-Cola?"
There are two truths in this joke: One--under Putin, the personal financial interests of the state apparatchiki have become completely inbred with the national interest. The entirety of state-owned and controlled enterprises are run by and for the benefit of the cabal around Putin--a collection of former KGB colleagues, St. Petersburg lawyers, and other political cronies. This band of comrades has managed to place all of the large money-making industries under their control--so much so that the thought of losing their grip when the Russian president's second term ends next year is a source of rising anxiety for his inner circle.