Saturday, February 16, 2008
Vlad gave his last annual address as President of Russia this week, and he had some burns to get off his chest (full story):
"The conference, a question-and-answer format, has been an annual event in which Mr. Putin has often displayed his comfort with power and a command of the fine details of governing.
The audience was a mixture of Russian reporters, many openly praising the Russian president, and foreign journalists, several of them pressing him on policies that have alarmed Western governments and undermined his reputation abroad.
Mr. Putin basked in the praise and seemed to revel in the criticism, which he rebutted with a mix of long, unapologetic answers and occasional insults.
When asked about the decision of the principal international election monitors not to send missions to observe the presidential elections, Mr. Putin was dismissive.
The monitors, from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have routinely found that elections in post-Soviet autocracies, including Russia, have been rigged. And they have said that Russia has unilaterally imposed conditions that make it impossible to assess the current campaign and election fully.
Mr. Putin said that the organization needed to be overhauled, and suggested that the monitors intended to teach Russia how to become democratic.
“Let them teach their wives to make shchi. Burn,” he said. Shchi is a popular Russian cabbage soup.
Similarly, Mr. Putin swept aside a remark by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said that as a former K.G.B. officer, Mr. Putin “has no soul.”
“As a minimum, a state official must at least have a head. Burn,” he said.
Mr. Putin also flashed his annoyance when asked about reports in Western newspapers that he had used his office to accumulate a vast personal fortune. Such “rumors,” he said, “they picked from a nose and smeared onto their papers. To them is a burn of extreme proportions.”"