Not a day goes by without someone reaching out to this news organization to ask, “The, you’re such a well-known Sovietologist, Kremlinologist, historian of totalitarian regimes, not to mention the keenest observer known to scholars of American political corruption, so how is it that you’re letting The New York Times and The Washington Post get all the scoops about Trump’s connections to Russia? Come on, man!”
Well, it’s true. I really haven’t thrown my hat into that ring. Until now….
Let me begin with three syllables: Trololo. Ring any bells?
In case it doesn't, Trololo is Edouard Zhil’s iconic 1976 rendition of his landmark song, not to mention the best-known artifact of Soviet Communist-era television.
By 1976, the only thing keeping the Worker’s Paradise’s from going under was force, repression, imposed deprivation, a violent police and prison state and a few of the other features of Stalinism that Trump is trying to bring to America.
Not that many Soviet citizens back then had televisions — they were precious instruments, produced in limited numbers and distributed only to the most deserving apparatchiki — and those who did would steel themselves with triple their normal vodka consumption before consigning themselves to an evening of watching it. Typical programming might feature a lengthy special on metallurgic advances in the Kazakh boat propeller industry followed by a discussion of Lithuanian tablecloth patterns capped off with a few scenes of Leonid Brezhnev cutting the ribbon at the opening of a wheelbarrow factory.
But, every once in a while, the ether on those grey Stalingrad nights would be electrified by broadcast gold, and none ever captured the Russian soul or achieved as durable a fame as Tovarisch Zhil’s Trololo. In fact, it is the only known instance of Soviet television ever receiving a tribute from the elite American counterparts they could only envy in secret, as the embedded version will demonstrate. Please, Comrades—have a look. Then we'll continue.
So… why do you bring this up, The?
Last night a source alerted me to the fact that in 2012 Russian television produced a remake of the original performance. Of course, historians and journalists of my caliber can't normally waste time on such frivolity, but something told me not to pass it up. I hungered to know who would be there: the audience at such a pinnacle cultural event would be limited to the élite of the élite. It would be like reading the KGB's classified internal phone directory. No one who was not a personal darling of Putin himself could hope to attend a show like that. Go to the Bolshoi. Run naked down the halls of the Hermitage… but Trololo? Hardly.
And so it was that I spotted something in this version of Trololo that none of my colleagues in the broader press, our own élites, too finely feathered a bunch to stoop to the real work of reporting, caught: Nothing less than final proof of the Trump-Russia connection. Watch it. See for yourselves. You only have to go 12 seconds in to see on whom the camera lingers so lovingly and accords so much of the screen time that, by rights, should have been the great Zhil's and Zhil's alone—a clear message from the Kremlin. I will leave the identification of the person in question to you so that you may experience the pleasure of discovery for yourself.
So we have the disgraced traitor Flynn. We have Attorney General Sessions caught lying about meeting the Russians. We have Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the only American owner of the main Russian money laundering bank on Cyprus; Tillerson, Putin most favored of them all, the kind of fellow he'd take on a chimpanzee-shooting expedition. Manafort, Page, Bannon, Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, the Trump boys, reeking of lavender-scented pomade... there aren't enough electrons in the galaxy to pump all their names out on the internet.
None of that will matter after tonight. This is the footage that will bring the Trump crime and treason family to its knees.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.