"I'll be working as Santa Claus, just like 25 years ago."
Much of what is shown on TV in Russia is carefully controlled by the state... but not everything.
An RBK news anchor could barely hide her astonishment on Wednesday when an economist guest appeared to go completely off script — and literally toast the death of the Russian stock market.
Expert Aleksandr Butmanov was invited on a live segment on the popular business news channel, presumably with the unenviable task of painting a silver lining on the crippling sanctions Russia is being laden with in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
"Well, that's only once a year... Tikhonova professionally rolled with the gag — but Butmanov wasn't kidding.
"Jokes aside, let me do this quickly: I'm sending my regards to Serget Usichenko who 12, 13 years ago drank for the death of the stock market," he said, pulling out a bottle, to the wide-eyed stunned silence of the speechless host.
"Today I'm drinking soda. Dear stock market — you were close to us, interesting to us. Rest in peace, dear comrade." And he took a swig.
Recovering from her stupefaction, Tikhonova hastily ended the short-lived segment by saying "she would not comment on this flash mob in any way," according to Russian news aggregator TJournal.
In the seven days since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his almost universally condemned invasion of his neighbor, the value of the ruble has plummeted as the country is hammered with increasingly suffocating economic sanctions.
Russian banks have been cut off from the SWIFT system, preventing them from doing business outside the country; foreign-based assets belonging to oligarchs have been frozen, and Germany halted its $11billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Several global companies have either pulled out of the country or stopped exporting there, including energy giants, BP and Shell, Exxon; transport manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, Boeing, and Airbus; and retail behemoths such as IKEA and H&M.
Disney, WarnerMedia, YouTube, Netflix, Spotify and DirecTV have stopped distributing content there, and Facebook and Twitter have vowed to block content from state-owned media. Mastercard and Visa have also blocked financial institutions.