Dhat is an old political game, commented Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov the reports that he was taken to a hospital with heart problems after his arrival for the G-20 summit in Bali: “They have been writing about our president for a good ten years that he is ill.” A short video by Lavrov’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Monday on her Telegram channel, should prove his well-being: It shows the minister in a T-shirt and shorts on a terrace, in the background palm trees. An iPhone and papers lie on a table in front of him. He is currently preparing for the performances of the next few days, explains Lavrov.
Had Lavrov left the reports of his alleged heart problems uncommented, they might have simply been lost in the flood of political news from the Bali summit. Finally, on Tuesday, he showed himself on various official occasions with no discernible sign of weakness.
Nothing more can be said about the suit and tie he wore. The situation is different with the T-shirt Lavrov wore when trying to dispel speculation about his health. On it is the surname of the black American artist who died in 1988 at the age of 27 in large letters Jean Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was heroin addicted and queer – and thus the perfect embodiment of that alleged moral depravity of the West, against which – like President Vladimir Putin – Sergei Lavrov railed again and again.
A law is due to be passed in the Russian parliament next week that will ban any neutral or positive representation of homosexuality criminalized as “LGBT propaganda”. The war against Ukraine is regularly portrayed as a crusade against Western depravity. As soon as the video was released, a storm of ridicule broke out over Lavrov because of the Basquiat T-shirt on social networks and western media.
Of course, that shouldn’t bother him anymore. Basquiat is unlikely to be well known to Russian audiences, and the pro-Kremlin media, the only one left in Russia, won’t change that.