MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Animated U.S. television show "Family Guy" has spoofed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin by lampooning him as a macho spymaster who entraps enemy spooks and lights cigarettes with a Kalashnikov rifle.
The subversive award-winning show, which has featured bestiality, incest and stars Brian the talking dog, centers around one-year-old Stewie who speaks in a faux upper class English accent and abhors his middle class American parents.
The third episode of its eighth season, "Spies Reminiscent of Us" premiered on October 11 on U.S. television channel Fox, and features Stewie and Brian on an adventure in Russia, where passersby are large, hat-wearing bears pedaling unicycles.
Police, clad in dark trenchcoats and fur caps with red stars, accuse Stewie and Brian of being American spies and whisk them off to see the Putin character, who is brooding in an office underneath portraits of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on his walls.
Putin horrifies the duo, along with Hollywood actors Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, whose animated characters are voiced by the real-life stars, by pointing a Kalashnikov at them and transforming chained sticks into a coat hanger just like the Nazi baddy in the film "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
But it all turns out to be in jest.
In a clear pun on Putin's name, Stewie asks between guffaws: "He was puttin' us on, right?"
The episode, which also shows Stewie turning into the ubiquitous Russian nesting doll, has sprung up on several popular Russian media sites and was praised by viewers for its humor value.
Putin's spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Called "The Griffins" in Russian after Stewie's surname, "Family Guy" is produced by the U.S. Fox Broadcasting Company, which also produces popular cartoon series The Simpsons.
A cartoon Putin has also appeared on TV show "South Park," produced by The Comedy Channel.
In 2003, Harry Potter's house-elf Dobby caused a stir in the Russian press when comparisons were made between Putin, then president, and the miniature pale creature with flappy ears and large green eyes.
Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Paul Casciato