Putin’s Remarks

It appears that President Putin, who I shall take care not to offend in my postings here lest I be banished from Russia for good, has made a bit of a daft statement regarding allegations of rape in the highest circles of Israeli politics:

“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!”

Which certainly seems like an insensitive gaff of the highest order.  I see that the whole episode is being blamed on a mistranslation:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov admitted: “Yes really, these words were pronounced.”

“Russian is a very complicated language, sometimes it is very sensitive from the point of view of phrasing.

“I don’t think that the proper translation is able to reflect the meaning of the joke.

He said it “in no way means that President Putin welcomes rape”.

Russian is a complicated language, but I doubt the remarks lost much of their meaning in translation.  I am more inclined to think that the manner in which a Russian would interpret such remarks is vastly different from how a westerner would.  Russian humour, often thought not to exist, is very dry and often exceptionally dark.  In many cases, it cares little for the sensibilities of those who are easily offended.  This is, after all, a country which within living memory deemed half of its citizens criminals and threw them into icy labour camps.  So my take is that Putin was simply making an exceptionally crude joke which would not cause the same offence to the Russian men in his entourage as it would to western journalists.

Whatever the intentions behind the remarks, I’m not sure I agree with Lemuel on Russia when he says:

Plus Russians are the real experts when it comes to rape, they have raped whole countries.

Which may or may not be true, but he is missing the obvious point that the Russians as a people were systematically raped by the Golden Horde of Ghengis Khan to the effect that the Asiatic features they bequeathed are noticable in nearly all Russians. There is a Russian proverb: Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tatar which acknowledges this fact. So when he says Russians are experts when it comes to rape, they ought to be as most of them carry the physical evidence of it in their features.

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24 Responses to Putin’s Remarks

  1. secretdubai says:

    So when he says Russians are experts when it comes to rape

    Likewise to German women during WW2.

  2. Tim Newman says:

    SD,

    Yeah, that is a shameful piece of Russian history. It is the reason I did not dismiss Lemuel’s statement completely, because what he says is true in the case of 1945 Germany. However, I am not aware of Russians systematically raping any other conquered territory in the same manner. Certainly, I’ve not read about it if it did happen.

    I know that Lemuel was also referring to the metaphorical rape of Russia’s neighbours rather than the actual rape, but in this case it is probably best to keep the two separate.

  3. lemuel says:

    What I said was just another example of a dark and cynical way how we Slavic people in general joke ;).
    And yes, I was referring to the metaphorical rape and I really don’t understand what the genealogy of the Russians has got to do with it, apart from the obvious conclusion: “like father like son”. That would explain a lot (even Russia’s general propensity for asiatic despotism) though it would hardly exculpate them.

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  5. Tatyana says:

    Intersting that when western-born media-consumers mention poor German women mass-raped by those barbaric Russians (I was laughing out loud reading, some time ago, Grass’s Tin Drum)
    they somehow omit any mention of millions of Soviet citizens of various ethnicities, raped/killed/mutilated by Germans and their allies on Soviet side of the border. Not counting all those Poles, Jews, Hungarians, French etc in their countries of residence.

  6. secretdubai says:

    Tatyana – I’m quite sure it went both ways. While we’re at it, let’s mention Rwanda and god knows how many other conflicts from around the world throughout where systematic rape has taken place.

    The point here was Russia and rape. But yes, let’s drag “the west” back into it. *yawn* Or maybe let’s wait until one of our western politicians makes a similar remark.

  7. Tatyana says:

    No, the point here that you made a remark about Russians notorious of being rapists – and you brought as example that tired cliche about poor innocent Germans. So I’m telling you – Germans deserved more than they had experienced in the hands of Russians. They should have been horded into ghettos and German-style concentration camps and made to live like that for years, in constant fear of their lives. Not military and not SS – civilians, the only crime of them being ethnic Germans. So they can taste their own medicine, as they have behaved with millions of Polish, Jewish, Ukranian, Russian, French, Dutch, Hungarian, etc etc civilians.

    It didn’t “went both ways”. You don’t equal a person who kills in self-defence with a bandit who commits an unprovoked crime. It’s the question of who started it, if you will.

    Don’t drag Rwanda in it, or Kongo, or any other irrelevant country. You were making stupid sweeping acusations against Russians – don’t change the subject.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    Whereas I have sympathy for the suffering of the Russians during the Nazi invasion, a suffering which certainly played a huge role in the behaviour of the Russians when they were able to exact their revenge in Berlin, my sympathy is somewhat limited by the fact that the Russians had no problem with the Nazis’ behaviour in Europe until they found themselves on the receiving end.

    When some of us in Europe were getting thumped by the Nazis and were facing invasion and ruin, the USSR was happily dividing countries up with the Nazis and supplying them with raw materials.

  9. Tim Newman says:

    The point here was Russia and rape. But yes, lets drag the west back into it. *yawn* Or maybe lets wait until one of our western politicians makes a similar remark.

    To be fair SD, knowing your previous battles with the good folk of the ME pretty well, I can see where you’re coming from with this remark. But I can assure you Tatyana isn’t one of the reflexively anti-western types (of which there are plenty in Russia and ME) who simply drags the west’s behaviour into everything to distract from the criticism at hand. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I don’t wish to speak for her, but I’m sure her dislike of Germans in this context is heartfelt and not simply a method of blaming everything on the west. Indeed, I doubt that my own wife, who grew up speaking German and visited the place many times, would strongly condemn the Russians in 1945 Germany given that she is from the city of Leningrad which bore the full brunt of the Nazi invasion.

  10. Castor says:

    Tim, you’re not wrong, but your’s is also hardly the full story. While Churchill would have liked nothing more than to see Hitler’s Germany and the USSR strangle each other, the government before him had no thought whatsoever for Czechoslovakia, Austria, etc. And poor little Poland was only too happy to take over a piece of rump Czech lands when given the chance.

    I’d like to see _one_ absolutely authoritative recount of the fruitless negotiations between France, Britain and the USSR. Who stuffed whom?

  11. Tatyana says:

    Tim: and who, what country had any problem with Nazis or for that matter, Stalinists in Poland or Western Ukraine until they found themselves on recieving end?

    In fact, let me ask you this: had Londoners truly, truly understood Israelis or Australians on vacation in Bali, or New Yorkers etc etc until they found themselves on the recieving end of the murderous Muslim hatred?

  12. So, as I understand it, you feel that Russia is a nation still populated, despite hundreds of years of existence, by savage barbarians who not only view rape as a joking matter (despite having been raped themselves) but who are incapable of realizing that other nations are more civilized (and much more powerful) than they and do not so view it (or who, recognizing this, couldn’t care less who they offend).

    Gosh, what a russophobe you are!

  13. Intellectual Pariah says:

    “So Im telling you – Germans deserved more than they had experienced in the hands of Russians. They should have been horded into ghettos and German-style concentration camps and made to live like that for years, in constant fear of their lives. Not military and not SS – civilians, the only crime of them being ethnic Germans. So they can taste their own medicine…”

    Tatyana, I believe you’re Russian by birth, so I can understood you having strong feelings on the issue, but the fact remains: these comments are bereft of any moral sense.

    There are so many things wrong here it’s hard to know where to begin. I might just ask whether you feel the terrorist attack on Beslan was justified by earlier Russian atrocities in Grozny. By the reasoning you’ve used above, weren’t those children just getting a taste of their own medicine?

  14. Tim Newman says:

    Tim: and who, what country had any problem with Nazis or for that matter, Stalinists in Poland or Western Ukraine until they found themselves on recieving end?

    I’d say that a great many nations had a problem with the Nazis once their war machine got rolling into Poland. Admittedly, many countries misunderstood or downplayed the Nazis intentions when they were on the rise to power up until 1939, but we can safely say that Britain had a major problem once their true intentions were finally revealed. Indeed, we went to war over it. What I am complaining about is that the USSR had no problem with the Nazis even once they had embarked on a journey of military conquest and genocide against their neighbours.

    In fact, let me ask you this: had Londoners truly, truly understood Israelis or Australians on vacation in Bali, or New Yorkers etc etc until they found themselves on the recieving end of the murderous Muslim hatred?

    This is IMO a separate issue. I personally still don’t think Londoners have a clue how Israelis or New Yorkers feel about Islamic terror. We are all too busy blaming ourselves.

  15. Tatyana says:

    Who is this clown?
    I’m not “Russian by birth”, I’m Jewish by birth, moron.
    I don’t get to know half of my family because Germans converted them into rotting dust in Belorussia and Ukraine.
    I hope you choke on your moral superiority.

    Tim, Stalin had no problem with Hitler because both regimes were 2 faces of same medal, both – totalitarian left societies. Still, before 1939 (the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact) the official line was anti-fascist (try to rent a wonderful film, ??? ???? ???? ??????), the plays and films and novels etc, in full hysteria of “purifying 1937-39″ were posing Nazis as mortal enemies. Of course, in fact, Stalin very much sympathised with Hitler, and felt crushed and betrayed when Germany crossed the border June22, 1941.
    All Stalin’s conquests in per-War months, starting with the Finnish campaign, thru “liberation” of Baltic States, parts of Moldavia, Western Ukraine – were all done under “understanding” with Germans; the bastard was doing exactly same thing as Hitler.

    I’m sure you know all this, if not – it’s worth to read about those 2-3 years; explains a lot.

  16. Intellectual Pariah says:

    So I get your nationality wrong, and that makes me a “moron”. OK.

    The difference between you and me – in fact the difference between you and 99% of people, including every Jew I’ve known – is that we think deliberately, targeted killings of women, children, and other non-combantants are everywhere and always wrong, whereas you think that killing the right group under the right conditions can actually be good. That’s very select company you’re keeping.

  17. Tim Newman says:

    …whereas you think that killing the right group under the right conditions can actually be good.

    I’m not sure she is saying this. She seems to be saying she doesn’t give a shit about the Germans in 1945 and they were merely reaping what they sowed: this is not the same as thinking it is good, or morally right.

    In fact, revenge or indifference is IMO a far more natural response than addressing the issue on a moral basis. I would not consider the actions of the Russians in Germany to be moral or right, but damn if I was a Russian who had lived through the Nazi invasion I would have been straining every sinew just to feel indifference as opposed to cheering them on or, God forbid, joining in.

    This is not a pretty side to human nature, but human nature it is and it far better to take the reality of human nature into account when examining situations both past and present than hoping a ravaged people will react in a moralistic manner when the tide eventually turns on their former conquerors.

  18. Intellectual Pariah says:

    You some good points, Tim. I can understand that desire for revenge by Nazis’ victims. And you know, if the Allies – eastern and western – had behaved scrupulously towards the Germans – no annexations, no expulsions, no destruction of their beautiful cities – I’d say something was wrong. There must be such a thing as a fair distribution of injustice.

    That being said, inflicting atrocities on a helpless civilian population is almost as bad as it gets (though Hitler showed there is worse). It’s ugly for Tatyana in 2006 to express the sentiments her grandmother might have in 1945. I’ll cut her grandmother slack I won’t cut her. And I’ll still correct her distorted concepts. Revenge is revenge, it’s not “self-defence”. And what joins Hitler and Stalin is not some dubious notion of Hitler as a leftwinger (tell it to Fritz Thyssen) but the idea that people can be dealt with on the basis of their category (ethnicity, class), and not on the basis of each person’s responsibility for their own actions. But the same idea of collective guilt infects Tatyana’s thinking, at least as she’s expressed it here.

  19. Tatyana says:

    Hey, who gave you the right to tell me what’s ugly what’s not? Who gave you MF right to “cut some slack” to my grandmother? You’re not worthy of the sweat of her heels, you moralizing idiot.
    And don’t you tell me what Jews think.

  20. Alexei says:

    Tim, I’m not going to get into this “Putin on rape” debate because I think that either Putin’s mind has been falling apart lately, or Putin intended to compromise the Israeli president in an incomprehensible KGB way. Either way, Putin’s words are hardly representative of the way the educated class think in Russia. What I’d rather facus on are the stereotypes in these sentences:

    “…Russians as a people were systematically raped by the Golden Horde of Ghengis Khan to the effect that the Asiatic features they bequeathed are noticable in nearly all Russians. There is a Russian proverb: Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tatar which acknowledges this fact.”

    The features we can agree to describe as Asiatic that are common (but not to the point of being noticeable in all Russians, of course) in the Russian population, were most likely inherited from the autochtonous Ugro-Finnic population of Central Russia, whose distant descendants are the Mari and the Mordva. Whether the Mongols were more given to rape than other invaders, I am not sure; anyway, the Golden Horde (Genghis didn’t live to invade Russia BTW) ruled Russian lands indirectly, through Russian princes. The saying you mention is not Russian in origin and refers, first, to the supposedly Asiatic ways of the Russian aristocracy (implying that in the 18th century, after Peter I, Russian nobles were merely Tartars in European attire), and second, to the Mongol-Tatar ancestors of many preeminent Russian nobles. It was not supposed to apply to the peasants, who made up 80% of the country even in the early 20th century.

    Yes, Russians have an odd sense of humor — almost as odd as the English — but modern Russian humor is not just Slavic: it has a strong Jewish component, which makes it more palatable.

  21. Tim Newman says:

    Alexei,

    Thanks for your input, I stand corrected.

  22. Doug Eberspacher says:

    The Germans didn’t harm anyone that wasn’t out to harm them. The had to spread out and take on trhe enemy, because they were surrounded by enemies and wouldn’t have lasted 6 months had they stayed within their borders. The Germans treated the French very well. There were no records of rape or pillaging.
    When the Germans went into Russia they encountered Jews that would sabotage and then blend in with the other populace. This is the reason Jews were put into camps in Poland. One thing for sure millions of Russians welcomed the Germans. At no time has a populace welcomed foreign soldiers on their soil. Of course the people who jojned the Waffen SS paid a heavy price after the war ended.

  23. Doug Eberspacher says:

    The Russians have had to endure communism for 80 years. No doubt Americans would be very different had it been imposed upon them and they don’t know how close it came to be.

  24. Werner says:

    This is what I appreciate about Europeans , they discuss the continuity of history e.g. Mongols raped Russians raped Germans raped the English – unlike the Irish mongrels of the US who fixate on very small aspects of history .

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