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Vladimir Putin stood in front of the world’s press on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, and declared that in life, there is “only the spectre of” happiness, following his face-to-face with Joe Biden.
The philosophical remarks – which came amid a brief assessment of his US counterpart on Wednesday – were an immediate revelation for commentators on the internet, who ridiculed Russia’s president for his dour worldview.
After all, how unhappy can you be knowing your biggest rival (aka Alexei Navalny) is in prison and that Russia is allowing you to be president indefinitely?
Fortunately, the internet has carried out a very keen assessment:
“If you lived in kleptocracy with a 3rd world economy you'd think happiness was a mirage as well”, wrote Jennifer Rubin, of The Washington Post in a tweet.
The writer followed that up with a poll asking "There is no happiness in life, there is only a mirage on the horizon", with the following answers: “depressed fortune cookie”, “apt take on Russian life”, or “covid slump”.
A parody account by the name of “Darth Putin” added that “Everything in the world displeases me, but, above all, my displeasure in everything displeases me”.
Another tweeted that Mr Putin comments were relatable, “or is it cuz my mom was Russian with a bona fide tragic life?”
“Doesn’t sound as if a Putin advice book on how to be happy would be a bestseller,” added the American historian and author, Michael Beschloss.
“It'd be War and Peace length, though”, another ironically replied, in reference to Russia’s most famous writer, Leo Tolstoy.
Following that, Alec Luhn, a former correspondent in Russia, appeared to identify the source of Mr Putin’s remarks as a quote from a book about Tolstoy.
He wrote: “Makes me wonder if someone's been Googling ‘Tolstoy quotes about happiness’...”
Finally, Susan Glosser of The New Yorker, wrote of Mr Putin’s press conference:“almost no news. only concrete act, return of ambassadors to their posts. otherwise, Putin says everything is US's fault... and there is no happiness in the world.”