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5 Apr, 2020 22:24

Foul-mouthed JESUS arrested in Moscow for violating self-isolation rules, becomes instant meme fodder online

Foul-mouthed JESUS arrested in Moscow for violating self-isolation rules, becomes instant meme fodder online

Saying harsh things to police when you think you’re being unlawfully detained may be understandable… but not when your name is Jesus. The internet has gone crazy over a bizarre Covid-19 arrest made by the Moscow police.

A man walking his dog in the center of the capital – an activity allowed, within 100 meters of home, despite the coronavirus-related near-total lockdown – was arrested in broad daylight. He was then put in a police van and driven to the station as his scared pooch remained alone in the street.

Adding to the drama, the incident took place at Moscow's prestigious Patriarch's Ponds, a chic upper-class area, familiar to fans of the writer Mikhail Bulgakov. 

Outrage was the initial online reaction to videos that emerged on Saturday – but that was neither the whole story, nor exactly accurate.

The man’s ordeal appeared in a whole new light when his identity – Jesus Vorobyev – and a video of him speaking to police emerged. Let’s just say his demeanor was far from the standards of a messiah.

It turned out that he was not detained for simply walking his dog, but for repeated violations of the city’s self-isolation rules. Amid the pandemic, public parks have been shut down, and officers had reportedly given the man ample warnings on other occasions.

But Jesus refused to cooperate with police when asked to produce his passport, and things escalated quickly. 

“You know I wish that you all die together with your children, wives and mothers,” he appeared to shout at the officers in footage obtained by RT.

Also on rt.com Moscow extends partial coronavirus lockdown until May 1 as Putin prolongs paid leave period

Vorobyov was eventually apprehended for disobeying the police and now faces the prospect of a 15-day administrative arrest (unlike the dog, which was brought back home by his wife). He was released from the station after a few hours, but he’ll now have to show up in court on Monday.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. Vorobyov talked to the media about his arrest, saying that the officers acted like “fascists” and that parting a man from his dog is the same as separating a mother from her child.

Unfortunately for the man, far fewer were taking him seriously at this stage, as the internet responded with jokes – and with people online both stressed out and bored by the pandemic, there was no shortage of them.

Commenters noted that the location of the arrest – the Patriarch Ponds – has made the incident even more surreal. The park is where the opening scene of Mikhail Bulgakov’s iconic 'Master and Maragarita' novel takes place, and its story alternates between Moscow of 1930s and Jerusalem during the trial of Yeshua Ha-Notsri (Jesus of Nazareth) by Pontius Pilate.

“Jesus detained at the Patriarch Ponds for walking his dog and arguing with the cops. The end of days is really here,” one of the commenters wrote, while another added that even the creators of 'South Park' wouldn’t have been able to come up with such a twisted plot.

The very combination of “Jesus” and “Vorobyev” (“sparrow’s son” or “that of the sparrows”) sounds quite comical and mismatched to a Russian ear. So the man was swiftly proclaimed the God of the Birds.

The character of the High Sparrow, a religious fanatic known to the ‘Game of Thrones’ fans, was brought up as well.

Online sleuths found out that Vorobyev’s given name was Denis, but he changed it to Jesus just for laughs. Even more bizarre are reports that he used to be a policeman himself, but got sacked. Now Jesus apparently runs a small fashion brand, which specializes in T-shirts and hoodies featuring obscene prints.

After analyzing all of this information, some on Twitter came to the conclusion that “the only victim in this situation is the dog.”

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