Article by: Mary Mycio
Philadelphia, PA. A group in the U.S. has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fight Russian President Vladimir Putin with mockery. The project, called “VATNIK: The Putin Voodoo Magnet” aims to raise $5000 to produce voodoo doll-refrigerator magnets with Putin’s face that can be stuck with Ukrainian flag pins.
“Vatnik” is the Russian word for a padded or quilted jacket. It also a derogatory term that Ukrainians use to refer to people who believe in Putin’s propaganda – because they must have cotton stuffing for brains. “What better to symbolize them than a stuffed Putin Voodoo Doll?” asks the project’s Kickstarter page.
Kickstarter is a popular platform for online crowd-funding, a way of raising money from large numbers of contributors, usually online. So far, the VATNIK project has raised close to $2200 in pledges. But the goal must be reached by December 31 or the project will get nothing and the pledges will be fully refunded. But if it succeeds, a portion of sales will be donated to help the Ukrainian army.
The activists who created the project call themselves “Voodoo Politics” and do not want to reveal their identities. Their spokesperson, Mary Mycio, a Pennsylvania-based writer and lawyer with many years of experience in Ukraine, calls them the “little green men” of anti-Putinism.
“Little green men” was one name given to the Russian troops who wore no insignia when they invaded the Crimean peninsula earlier this year. Since the conflict spread to eastern Ukraine in the spring, nearly 5,000 people have died.
“If Putin can deny that he’s backing the ‘vatniks’, Voodoo Politics’ members can deny anything to do with the VATNIK project,” says Mycio, who also helped with a successful Kickstarter for the documentary: The Babushkas of Chernobyl, due out this winter. “Irony is integral to the project, which also includes making videos and memes of VATNIK’s in funny scenes composed of dollar store toys.”
According to the Kickstarter description, the VATNIKs are form of “weaponizing humor in the information wars.” “We think they’re hilarious,” Mycio adds, “and deadly serious.” If the product is commercially successful, it could provide a steady stream of donations that none of Voodoo Politics’ members could individually afford.
If the Kickstarter succeeds, donations from the first production run will go to Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade, in cooperation with the Facebook group “1,000,000 people around the world in support of Ukraine’s fight for freedom”. The group, created by Ed Sibicki, a New Jersey-based wealth manager, has “adopted” that unit for members to support.
Mary Mycio: 610-430-1437