Vladimir Putin...in his own words
[Posted from Moscow]
On Monday, in a press conference following a EU-Russia
summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stuck his foot in his
mouth, only it wasn’t really until the next day, when everyone
understood the translation, that the full impact was felt.
Putin railed against radical Islam and then, in addressing a
French reporter, uttered a rather crude joke.
First, in response to a Le Monde reporter, who questioned
Russia’s use of anti-personnel land mines and fragmentation
bombs in Chechnya, Putin calmly said Chechnya was a
“complex conglomeration of problems,” reiterating that the
separatist movement in the republic had been taken over by
radical Muslims and terrorists.
“No one can accuse Russia of suppressing freedom,” he said.
“Russia de facto gave full independence to the Chechen republic
(in 1996). In 1999 we had to pay for it. Wide-scale aggression
against Russia, the republic of Dagestan, took place under the
slogan of creating a (Muslim theocracy) by tearing apart
territories of the Russian Federation. What does that have to do
with Chechnya’s independence?”
Putin went on to explain that those who inspire and finance
Chechen fighters are “religious extremists and international
terrorists (but Russia is only the first line of defense because)
the radicals (have wide ambitions in) speaking of a global
Then the President grew agitated and began to categorize those
under threat from radical Muslims.
“They speak about the necessity to kill Americans and their
allies. I think you come from a country that happens to be an
ally of the United States – you are in danger,” he said in
addressing the French reporter.
“They are talking about the need to kill all (infidels), all non-
Muslims, or Crusaders, as they say. If you are a Christian, you
are in danger!
“But if you decide to reject your faith and become an atheist, you
are also subject to liquidation according to their way of thinking
you are in danger!
“If you decide to become a Muslim, even that won’t save you.
Because they consider traditional Islam also to be hostile to the
goals they put forward. Even in that case you are in danger!”
According to the Moscow Times, at this point the news coverage
of the press conference showed that those flanking Putin, EU
chief Javier Solana and Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, were
growing increasingly uncomfortable. Putin then went on to
make a tasteless joke, which was edited out of Russian state
“If you want to go all the way and become a Muslim radical and
are ready to get circumcised, I invite you to Moscow. We are a
multi-confessional country, we have experts in this field, too. I
will recommend that they carry out the operation in such a way
that nothing grows back.” Doh!
Western news agencies said that Putin’s remarks were followed
by silence in the hall. At the time the exact meaning of his words
was not known due to the translation. Later, a EU spokesman
called the President’s remarks “entirely inappropriate.” Putin’s
aides later described their boss as being tired and angry at
constantly being grilled on Chechnya.
But lost in the story was Putin’s main point, that being Europe
should see radical Islam’s true goals, even when couched in
“If the so-called freedom fighters terrorize us and threaten to take
over nuclear and other vital facilities we will either have a
common interpretation of such activity or we will have a
problem. I only want to warn you that you should not create any
loopholes for these people. Anything, even the smallest trifle
that’s to their advantage, is perceived by them as a weakness and
will be used by them against those who demonstrate this
Makes sense to me.
[Source: Andrei Zolotov Jr. / Moscow Times]
We will return next week.