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The Guys Fell Asleep When Putin Was Speaking

Several senior politicians visibly struggled to keep their eyes open during the Russian president's speech, including the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

Posted on December 3, 2015, at 5:43 a.m. ET

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state of the union address.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Russia's entire political elite filled the Grand Kremlin Palace for Putin's speech, which is usually full of dramatic pronouncements they greet with thunderous applause.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Putin started off with some harsh words for Turkey, Russia's new public enemy number one after the country downed a Russian jet last week. "Allah decided to punish the Turkish elite by relieving them of their sense and judgement," he said.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Attendees included Alexander "Surgeon" Zaldostanov, leader of the pro-Putin Night Wolves Biker gang.

Russia's political elite listens attentively to Putin's state of the union address.

Zaldostanov's friend, the extravagantly coiffed lawmaker Valentina Petrenko, was also there.

The cast of the new Star Wars movie pitches up for President Vladimir Putin's annual state of the federation address

You could also find prosecutor general Yuri Chaika, recently implicated in corruption allegations, staggering even for Russia, embroiling his family in deals with the country's most notorious mafia murderers.

Вот этот слушатель послания Путина, конечно, ждёт раздела об успешной борьбе с коррупцией

The rest of Putin's speech eschewed saber-rattling for more mundane topics like jury composition, agricultural policy, and subsidies for mothers. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who has a habit of doing this, responded by appearing to doze off.

Igor Sechin, CEO of state oil giant Rosneft, also visibly struggled.

As did this guy.

This is one of the most boring Putin speeches I've ever heard. TV just showing dozing officials. I count at least 5.

And at least one person in this picture.

Many of those who stayed awake, like Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the upper house of parliament, clearly had a hard time doing it, as evidenced by the many prolonged absences of ovations.

After an hour, Putin ended his speech, and the hall rose for the national anthem. Lawmaker Nikolai Valuyev, a former heavyweight boxer, towered over the other officials.

Standing (some taller than others) for the anthem, and that's it for Putin's speech this year

Ordinary Russians, for whom Putin had little in the way of economic good news, turned their attentions elsewhere.

Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images
  • Picture of Max Seddon

    Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.