“Muddle instead of music,” said Pravda in 1936 of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Stalin had attended a performance at the Bolshoi. Shostakovich was lucky to escape with his life. His masterpiece, until then the most acclaimed Russian opera of the 20th century, was not so lucky. Comrade Stalin interpreted the work as an attack on the Soviet regime, i.e. him, and it was banned.
Putin’s gifting of a luxury car to Kim is just the latest in a long line of eccentric bilateral offerings.