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Hey Putin – if the hat fits

Every old-school Western movie ever made had a mandatory bad guy. Or maybe two.

They were more often than not easily distinguishable from the film’s outset because they sported an outrageously oversized handlebar moustache or an equally large black hat. By the end of the movie, the bad guy had either suffered a grisly but thoroughly deserved demise or, at the very least, had been unceremoniously thrown into the sheriff’s jail.

Carterton Mayor Ron Mark is often spotted around the place wearing a decidedly lightly-hued good-guy cowboy hat.

One of Mark’s current battles [he has a few on the go at any given time] is wrangling the dog owners who are not doing the right thing and picking up after their canine has done number two while out on walkies.

It’s a mucky job, but someone has to do it.

Further afield, a particularly nasty outlaw who sits on the top of the international most-wanted list is trying to avoid detection by not wearing the compulsory, aforementioned black hat. We won’t be fooled.

Vladimir Putin has been throwing his weight around for quite a while now.

His latest downright underhand behaviour comes as no surprise and makes him about as welcome as a rattlesnake at a square dance. Mind you, his dance partners are a motley band of outlaws, make no mistake.

Putin doesn’t like being questioned. He prefers total agreement. He most definitely doesn’t like being challenged and this is most likely why mercenary leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin is dead.

Prigozhin’s plane fell from the sky en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg this week. The head of the terrorist-style Wagner group dared to ride into town a couple of months ago with a posse of mercenaries and stage a short-lived mutiny against the Russian military.

Let’s tell it like it is. Prigozhin was a murderer. He gathered up prisoners and offered them a ticket out of jail. All they had to do was kill complete strangers for a time, and freedom was theirs. Charming.

Despite his awful record, plenty of us hoped Prigozhin could do the unthinkable and overthrow Putin. It wasn’t to be. Not that we had any idea what Prigozhin would be like as the King of the Kremlin, but we were willing to risk he was the lesser of two evils.

There is a growing list of leading Russian military figures who have fallen out with Putin and who are now dead.

We also discovered this week that Colonel General Gennady Zhidko had died, aged 57. Putin sacked Zhidko last year, blaming him for some of the failures in the war in Ukraine. That took the number of Russian generals who have died since the war started to seven.

If Prigozhin and Wagner founder Dimitry Utkin, who was with Prigozhin on the ill-fated flight, are counted, that takes the number of senior people with whom Putin fell out and who are now dead to nine.

What we need is a bounty hunter. Someone tougher than nails and strong as steel.

Meanwhile, where Putin is concerned, remember this: Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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