Conservative leadership candidate retells Vladimir Putin's 'hilarious' joke about murdering your enemies
Deepak Obhrai shares Russian leader's gag that fell flat with world leaders — but not him
Have you heard the one about the Russian hunter who intimidates a fisherman by murdering people who stand in his way?
Deepak Obhrai has. And he gets it.
The Calgary MP and Conservative Party leadership candidate has been promoting a Facebook Live event in which he promised to "dish on his hilarious encounter with Vladimir Putin."
And on Friday, he delivered.
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According to Obhrai, the hilarity began when he found himself sitting around a table with the prime minister of Malaysia, the president of Vietnam, the president of Papua New Guinea, and none other than Putin, himself, during the APEC summit in Bali, Indonesia, in 2013.
Obhrai was parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs at the time, which earned him a seat with the world leaders.
After some small talk with Putin, and chuckles about whether Canada or Russia is colder, Obhrai said there was a lull in the conversation, so he decided to share a story with the Russian leader about how he had caught a fish in a nearby bay when he had visited Bali a few years earlier.
Putin, naturally, asked how big the fish was. And Obhrai, naturally, answered using his hands.
The Russian leader then paused, looked at Obhrai and held out his own hands — much closer together — while saying: "No. This big."
Obhrai said his response was "total confusion." He didn't understand what Putin meant.
But, he soon learned, this was all a set up to the knee-slapper that was coming down the pike.
"'Parliamentary secretary,' he says, 'Let me tell you a joke.'"
And then Putin launched right into it.
Two Russians meet in a cafe...
To paraphrase Obhrai's retelling of the gag, it went roughly like this.
Two Russians, a hunter and a fisherman, meet in a cafe one morning and have a friendly chat before heading out for their daily duties. They meet again in the same cafe that evening and the fisherman tells the hunter about the fish he caught.
The hunter asks, "How big?"
The fisherman holds his hands out wide and replies, "This big."
Then the fisherman asks the hunter how his day was, and he replies that he shot a deer.
"That's great," says the fisherman. "You must be happy?"
But the hunter says no, because when he went to get the deer, a ranger intervened and told him he couldn't touch it because he didn't have a permit.
So, the hunter explained, he shot the ranger. Then an assistant ranger came by. So he shot him, too.
The fisherman then looks at the hunter and figures the guy is dangerous.
So he holds out his hands, closer together this time, and says, "Mr. Hunter, my fish was small."
That's the joke.
And don't worry. If you're not laughing, you're not alone.
Once Putin delivered the punchline, Obhrai said there was stunned silence and confusion around the table of world leaders.
"But I understood what he was talking about," Obhrai said. "So I turned around to him and I said, 'Mr. President, my fish was small, too.'"
"And, lo and behold, he went berserk, laughing so loud … because I understood his jokes and the others didn't."
But wait, there's more
Obhrai said Putin then left to give a speech, but he bumped into him again later on and the Russian president said he had another joke to tell him.
But, as luck would have it, Putin's handlers ushered him off to the next event before he could share the yarn, but he promised to tell Obhrai the next time they met.
This, Obhrai said with a wry smile, is why you should vote for him as leader of the Conservative Party.
"When I become the Prime Minister, I'm going to meet him," he said. "Then I'll find out what his second joke was."
Seriously, though, Putin's enemies get murdered
Of course, every good joke sprouts from a kernel of truth, so it's probably important to remember that many of the people who have stood in Putin's way have wound up murdered in real life.
Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic opposition leader and one of Putin's sharpest critics, was shot dead in 2015 near the Kremlin, one day before a planned protest against the government.
Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who had just written a book documenting widespread abuse of civilians by government soldiers in Chechnya, was also gunned down in Moscow in 2006.
Ivan Safronov, a journalist who was preparing a report in 2007 about allegations that Russia planned to provide sophisticated weaponry to Syria and Iran, mysteriously fell five storeys to his death before the report came out.
They were among 20 journalists killed in Russia since 2006, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
There is no conclusive proof Putin, himself, is behind the murders.
But a British inquiry did conclude last year that Putin probably approved the murder of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London by having Russian intelligence operatives poison his tea with radioactive polonium-210.
Here's Obhrai telling that joke again: