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Meet The American Who Called Into Putin's Marathon Question And Answer Session

Arizona resident Jeremy Bowling loves reviewing movies, and trying to get Americans to understand that they've got Vladimir Putin all wrong.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is nothing if not a man of tradition. And one of his favorites is his annual call-in show, where he marathons through questions from his citizens.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP / Getty Images

Among this year's highlights: a rousing chorus from "singing shamans on Siberia’s Lake Baikal, an oath ceremony for army conscripts in Volgograd," and a seemingly sarcastic offer to former FBI director James Comey to find asylum within Russia's borders.

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The question came from Arizona resident Jeremy Bowling, who described himself in the YouTube video he posted with his question as "a very big supporter" and "very pro-Russian."

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"As an American who sits here and sees the racist Russophobia that running crazy in my country, what advice would you give me to help set the record straight?" Bowling asked. "To help my fellow Americans to understand that Russia is not the enemy?"

“As the current head of state, I know the feelings of our people," Putin said, stressing that he doesn't see the US as an enemy of Russia.

Mikhail Klimentiev / AFP / Getty Images

"We don't think of America as our enemy," he said. "Even more to it — twice in history, when it was especially hard, we joined our forces and were allies during two world wars." (The Russian Revolution led to Russia pulling out from World War I, but whatever.)

"The Russian Empire at the time played a big role in the United States becoming independent," he continued. "We see that Russophobia is spreading right now but we think it is more of a result of an internal political struggle. We know that we have lots of friends in the US, too. I've been told this by my American colleagues as well as some polls said so, at least the ones that were published a month ago.”

The exchange got us curious though. Who is this guy, we asked ourselves, who seemingly fits the mold of the Soviet-era concept of a "useful idiot," someone who promotes propaganda without being fully aware of it?

Bowling has been a fan of Russia for a while judging by the videos posted to his YouTube channel — an eclectic mix of pro-Russia videos, Bollywood film reviews, and reviews of FX's The Americans.

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In this video, Bowling lays out his high level of regard for President Donald Trump, who he sees as smashing Russophobia, and defends his firing of Comey.

"You have been vindicated, people of Russia, by Donald Trump," he said. "He just rolled on them, like Bratva-style," he added, seemingly referring to the largest syndicate in the Russian mafia.

Bowling has been publishing skepticism of the idea that Russia interfered in the 2016 election since at least January, when he released a blog post calling it "the return of the Red Scare."

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"Just as [Sen. Joseph] McCarthy went on a rampage of over-exaggerations and false accusations that every opposition was a communist/Soviet plant," Bowling wrote. "So, too, the modern-day McCarthyites (Democrats) are inventing new ways to fabricate 'news stories' via their surrogates in the drive-by - I mean - the mainstream media.

"Dems and the media have not learned their lesson of lying to the American people," Bowling, who also runs online radio station Dark Sky Radio, continued. "At this rate my guess is it will be a generation before they have power again! To my liberal god-hating friends, Donald Trump is not your enemy. Putin and Russia are not your enemies. The flyover population is not your enemy. Your enemy is your failed policies! Putting transgender politics over jobs is your enemy, persecuting small business owners who have the right to refuse service to whomever they please is your enemy. Treading on the Constitution with no regard is your enemy."

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Bowling via email and VK, the Russian social media site, to ask about his views on Putin and the response to his TV appearance.

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Bowling may have raised eyebrows with his virtual one-on-one with Putin, but he's not the only American accused of making eyes at the Russian president.

Charley Gallay, / AP, Alberto E. Rodriguez

The phrase "useful idiot" may not actually have come from Lenin, but it's definitely Russian, and has seen a huge resurgence since the 2016 US election. Among those hit with the tag include Russia Today personalities like Sean Stone, the son of filmmaker Oliver Stone who, himself, just released a lengthy set of interviews with Putin and the president himself.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

Anup Kaphle is a deputy world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. His secure PGP fingerprint is AA69 A7F0 91A0 8CF9 F06A 8343 05EE 4615 8CD5 33D8.

Contact Anup Kaphle at anup.kaphle@buzzfeed.com.

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