In this post I wrote that Putin’s speech has become more emotional and less informative over the years. His recent speech at the Valdai Discussion Club meeting, which was full of colloquial and derogatory words, is a good illustration of this unmasking. The official translation of this speech at en.kremlin.ru does not give justice to all verbal “gems”, unfortunately. For example, this passage in Russian contains the word popa “butt”. But due to some mysterious reasons it has not ended up in the official translation.
… может быть только один ответ – показать, кто в доме хозяин: всем сидеть – извините меня, перед дамами прошу извинения, – всем сидеть на попе ровно и не крякать, будет так, как мы скажем.
… there is only one answer – to show who’s the boss. Everyone – excuse me, my apologies to the ladies – everyone sit quietly [on their butt – TG] and keep your mouths shut [literally: not quack – TG], just do what we say.Sources: http://www.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/69695, http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/69695
In case anyone was wondering why this passage contains apologies to the ladies, now you know!
But what particularly struck me is how often Putin uses words related to insanity and nonsense. He claims that the words and actions of his opponents in the West are irrational, a sign of lazy thinking and arrogance:
Whatever comes from Russia is all branded as “Kremlin intrigues.” But look at yourselves. Are we really so all-powerful? Any criticism of our opponents – any – is perceived as “Kremlin intrigues,” “the hand of the Kremlin.” This is insane. What have you sunk to? Use your brain, at least, say something more interesting, lay out your viewpoint conceptually. You cannot blame everything on the Kremlin’s scheming.
It may seem that there is a subtle, profound plot behind this. But I think there is nothing there, no subtle thought. It is just nonsense and arrogance, nothing else. Do you understand what the matter is? Such irrational actions are rooted in arrogance and a sense of impunity.
I mentioned this in my speech: who has read these rules? They are talking about rules – what rules? Where are they written and who has approved them? It is nonsense. Do they think they are talking to idiots? To some broad public, while some of those people do not even know how to read properly. What are the rules and who worked on them? It is nothing more than rubbish. Still, they keep drumming it into people’s heads indefinitely. And those who do not observe these rules will be subject to restrictions and sanctions.
A few more examples of Putin’s insanity talk:
- Have they lost it altogether, or what?
- It is nonsense, you see?
- That is delusional. It looks like a delusion, but it is actually happening.
- As for our involvement, this is just nonsense.
Putin’s misogyny deserves a separate study, but it is remarkable that he mentions two female politicians and questions their sanity in this speech. One of them is Nancy Pelosi. Putin does not mention her name, but describes her as a senile “granny” (Russian “babushka”):
But why spoil relations with China at the same time? Are they sane? It seems that this runs completely counter to common sense and logic. Why did this granny have to trudge to Taiwan in order to provoke China into some actions? And this is at the same time when they cannot settle relations with Russia due to what is happening in Ukraine. This is simply crazy.
The other female target is Liz Truss. The ex-Prime Minister of the UK, who is 47 years old, is referred to as a “girl”, who is “slightly of her mind”, or “out of it” (in the original, “devushka nemnozhko ne vs sebe”). The word “girl” is omitted (again!) in the official translation, but I’ve restored it:
Ms Liz Truss, the recent Prime Minister of Great Britain, directly stated in a conversation with a media representative that Great Britain is a nuclear power and the Prime Minister’s duty is to possibly use nuclear weapons, and she will do so. It’s not a quote, but close to the original wording. “I’m ready to do that.”
You see, no one responded to that in any way. Suppose she let it slip – the girl is slightly out of her mind. How can you say such things publicly? She did, though.
Progressive female politicians who try to justify Putin should consider this. Misogyny is a part of his “traditional values” package.
In fact, this year has seen a dramatic increase of words like bred “delirium, gibberish”, chush “rubbish”, erunda “nonsense” and others. The graph below shows the relative frequencies (per million words) of these words from 2012 until now.
About himself, Putin says in his Valdai talk: “You know, I have always believed in the power of common sense”. In his narrative, it is the West that has gone insane.
Why this obsession with other people’s irrationality? I would say that he probably realizes that he has made several fatal errors and that he looks like an idiot in the eyes of the civilized world. As I wrote in this post and as many people have observed already, Putin often resorts to projections (accusing others of one own’s misdeeds and flaws). He calls his opponents insane and their ideas nonsense, in an attempt to distract the audience from his own stupid acts. This looks pretty pathetic, if you ask me.