20 October 2006

Some jokes are not funny

A hat tip is due to Simply Jews for this story.

Vladimir Putin appears to have stuck his foot firmly in his mouth when he was overheard joking about the virility of Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who is accused of multiple rape.

Mr Putin's comment was made at the end of a press conference held by Mr Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow, which focused mainly on the Iran crisis. As the leaders prepared to leave, the microphone caught Mr Putin saying "greetings to your president". The microphone then went dead, but journalist Andrei Kolesnikov told the BBC he heard the rest of the comment. He said the president continued: "What a mighty man he turns out to be! He raped 10 women - I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all - we all envy him!" There reportedly followed loud laughter among the official delegations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov admitted: "Yes really, these words were pronounced." But he said it "in no way means that President Putin welcomes rape". "The president was joking," he told the BBC's World Today radio programme. "Russian is a very complicated language, sometimes it is very sensitive from the point of view of phrasing. don't think that the proper translation is able to reflect the meaning of the joke."

Call me cynical or careworn but do I detect a little bit of spin doctoring on Mr Peskov’s part? Surely not!

10 comments:

Daniel said...

Given that the Israelis having been religiously screwing the Palestinians for forty years, it's not suprising that, for a diversion, they sometimes turn their attention to their womenfolk!

Cheers!

betmo said...

russian- english- there seems to be tripping over tongues on both sides of the ocean.

Bryan said...

Because Putin is former KGB I can well imagine the verb he used that is translated as "rape" in English. It isn't exactly the equivalent and is not going to appear in a standard Русско-Английский Словарь [Russian-English Dictionary, for those who don't speak Russian]. "Fuck" is as close as we come in English.

If you are associated with the GULags you would consider it a joke, and it was meant as a joke, but it would be an understatement to say it was crude.

We didn't get into this vocabulary until the advanced course at the Defense Language Institute, and we learned it after normal duty hours at a bar with an instructor who worked construction in the Soviet Union before escaping.

jams o donnell said...

Bryan Ii would have been way beyong md limited understanding of Russian (Rusian was the second modern language raught at my secondary school).... Even if I hadn't forgotten virtualy all of it we wouldn.t quite have gone on to disucssing such language, not at a Jesuit school!

Seriously I do appreciate that words don't necessarily translate easily from one laguage that easily but in some cases isn't the meaning conveyed by context? The jole was overheard by a native Russian speaker, so it seems. Surely wouldnt he have understood the context-meaning?

He certainly seems like a man who has no idea of tact or good taste when it comes to comments.

[he famously suggested that a French reporter who had posed an uncomfortable question about abuses against civilians in mostly Muslim Chechnya travel to Russia for a circumcision."I would recommend that he who does the surgery does it so you'll have nothing growing back, afterward," Putin said].. They were laughing in the aisle in Grozny I'm sure!

It would seem like that Betmo, but I cant remember Bush cracking that sort of joke among the veritable cornucopia of crap he spouts

???? Daniel

Pete's Blog said...

Sounds like Putin is again trying to prove he Has a sense of humour - difficult! Funny how Russian leaders sound like bearish T34 gunners or horny Volga boatmen.

Pete

jams o donnell said...

lol Pete an apt description!

Bryan said...

The Russian are very Victorian about sex, while officially acting like Nuns they are responsible for a major segment of the porn on the Internet.

Looking at the Russian language sources, the Associated Press version was: We heard your president was sleeping with 10 women. What a man! We are in awe.

That would have been bad enough at a diplomatic level, but that he used language associated with a stag party after everyone is totally drunk, really shocked the Russian press.

Solzhenitzyn was censored as often for his use of vernacular language as for politics.

jams o donnell said...

Hm it seem to show his diplomatic skills are somewhat lacking!

Pēteris Cedriņš said...

It's hardly the first time that Lt. Col. Putin has descended to this sort of language. Leonid Finkelstein offered a look at the spread of Fenya five years ago, here.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks for the link Peteris. Perhaps this explains a lot