There was something that happened at the Brics summit in Goa last weekend that escaped the attention it deserved.
Asked by a small group of Russian journalists covering the summit about the threat of more sanctions on Russia by western countries, President Vladimir Putin said that they could “screw themselves”.
Whether Putin meant the western nations can “screw” themselves or the sanctions can “screw” themselves is not clear. What is clear is that he did use the s- word, and apparently the faces of a couple of Putin’s aides present at his interaction, turned red with embarrassment. Not surprisingly, Kremlin pulled down this remark from the Russian government’s website.
And this should confirm to us why US Presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken a shine to Putin. Like birds of the same feather, men of the same tongue hit it off famously. But let’s talk about Putin first.
“... Putin saw his usual statesman-like demeanour crack..(in Goa),” said The Moscow Times. But many Russians, familiar with Putin’s singular lack of linguistic finesse, are aware that he doesn’t find it easy to keep up his “statesman-like demeanour”.
In fact, the dialect of Russian that Putin speaks is called Fenya. Russians would tell you that Fenya is the kind of language that thieves use. Some Russians not only frown at Putin’s choice of words but even his grammar. And Putin’s work as an undercover KGB agent in East Germany before he entered politics obviously did nothing to hone his language skills.
Putin’s 1999 promise that he would destroy terrorists wherever they are found— “including toilets” — is still remembered in Russia and the West with a grimace. So is his comparison of the US to a “hungry wolf” which “eats and listens to no one”.
Why Deve Gowda used the ‘screw’ word
This reminds me of the day in 1996 when Deve Gowda, then India’s Prime Minister, caused a flutter by mouthing the screw word. Later, he himself was surprised that he had said something like it.
“Don’t screw us,” he thundered to a stunned audience at the World Economic Forum at Davos, taking exception to the protectionist policies of developed nations. If Gowda’s outburst was dismissed as an innocuous slip of the tongue, it was because, unlike Putin and Trump, he had had no history of using the s- and f- words even in private conversations. Besides, it was an open secret in those days that Gowda was still taking English lessons to perfect his language.
But why is Putin angry?
The very mention of America gets Putin’s adrenaline pumping. If he is furious with the US more than ever before now, it’s because of the sanctions against Russia that followed his country’s intervention in Ukraine and later in Syria. The sanctions are hurting Russia.
Putin’s “bravado” in Goa only hides his fear of sanctions, says Kyiv Post, a popular Ukrainian paper. It said: “President Putin is indeed screwing someone over, but it’s not the West; he is screwing over his own people, over and over again, millions of whom are paying the price for their leader’s personal ambitions and interests.”
Donald Trump loves Vladimir Putin
Yes, he does. He has been saying so himself—well, almost.
Trump suffers no qualms about degrading women with his lewd, loud and crass comments and thinks nothing of using the f- or even p- words. “Grab them by the p***y,” he once said. “You can do anything.”
Trump perhaps finds that Putin is the only world leader who appreciates the language.
Trump said on Monday that America was “too tough” on Putin and that, if elected, he would meet the Russian leader even before he stepped into White House.
Donald Trump says he might meet with Putin before inauguration https://t.co/zwt38VyFJX
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 18, 2016
Earlier, there was an important tweet. It was one from Russia with love.
In the final US presidential debate on Thursday, Hillary Clinton dubbed Trump as Putin’s puppet.
— CNN (@CNN) October 20, 2016
But Hillary Clinton fails to see what binds Trump and Putin: The two men speak the same language. Trump and Putin are two sides of the same dollar—or ruble.
Is Putin Russia’s Trump?
There has been some silly talk about whether Trump is the American version of Modi—or whether Modi is India’s Trump. There is no comparison between the two.
Modi is more like Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both are ambitious and fanatically loyal to their countries. And their avid reading has tempered their language, if not politics. Xi can tell Putin things about Tolstoy’s War and Peace and leave the former KGB spy gaping in surprise. Forget Modi and Xi.
What’s more relevant to ask is whether Putin is Russia’s Trump. Or, if you like, whether Trump is the American edition of Putin.
Trumps and Putins stump media
When I reported Deve Gowda’s use of the screw word in the Davos speech, the Mumbai edition of The Times of India deleted it. But other editions kept it.
The New York Times is famously allergic to such vocabulary. The best example is from a 2004 story. Dick Cheney, then the US vice-president, told Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate: “F**k yourself.” The Washington Post reported it verbatim, but the NYT had it this way: Cheney used “an obscene phrase to describe what he thought Mr Leahy should do”.
No wonder, the New York Times hates Trump. It’s recent editorial The Sleaziness of Donald Trump tells you why.
And no wonder Trump and Putin have become members of a mutual admiration society. Let the media screw itself.
Author tweets @sprasadindia
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Updated Date: Oct 20, 2016 14:20:48 IST