Kremlin apparatchiks are not glued to their laptops binge-watching House of Cards, the Russian government said Thursday. And unlike US president Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t watch the political drama.
Apparently it was news to the Russian authorities—weeks after the third season of the hit Netflix show premiered—that their all-powerful leader is portrayed on the show as the US president’s sleazy Russian counterpart, Victor Petrov.
“We [at the Kremlin] have not watched it… and we have not heard that [Putin’s] image was used,” spokesperson Dmitri Peskov told a Russian news agency.
A likely story. (The Kremlin must be at least aware of the show, as the Russian delegation vetoed its filming at the United Nations in 2014.)
The recurring Putin-like character first shows up in the third episode of the show, which also features a bizarre and rather awkward appearance from the anti-Kremlin punk activists Pussy Riot (playing themselves). The similarities between the fictional Victor Petrov and the real Vladimir Putin are many, aside from the not-so-subtle name inspiration: They’re both manipulative, power-hungry, charismatic. They have a vaguely snake-like and washed-out appearance. Both started their careers at the KGB.
Petrov, played by the Danish actor Lars Mikkelsen, however, is a good 9 inches (23 cm) taller than the real Russian president, with a slighter frame and a terrible Russian accent. His politics are highly unrealistic, and his behavior is even more outlandish than that of his real-life inspiration. (Even with his quirks, it’s hard to imagine Putin planting an intense kiss on Michelle Obama’s lips, as Petrov does with the fictional first lady, Claire Underwood.)
But still, for all intents and purposes, Petrov = Putin. It remains to be seen what will happen if Netflix makes it to Russia, as the company hopes to in two years—will the villainous Putin character come along?