Monday, October 23, 2006

Found in Translation?

The Don Rickles of Diplomacy performs a second act:

Rome, October 23 - Italian politicians stewing over a new gaffe by Vladimir Putin urged the Russian President on Monday to brush up his manners and resolve the human rights issue in his country before commenting on the mafia. ....

Reacting to criticism by European Parliament President Josep Borrell over Russia's human rights record, Putin allegedly struck back, saying that Italy was "the cradle of the mafia" and that "a lot of Spanish mayors were in jail for corruption." According to El Pais, Spanish Prime Minister Jose' Louis Rodriguez Zapatero and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi "were left speechless" by the president's quips and apparently just sat there .

Prodi's spokesman Silvio Sircana attempted to play down the incident, telling reporters that Putin was simply trying to address Borrell's criticism with a bit of irony.

What Putin really said was: "mafia is not a Russian word," said Sircana.

....Another of Putin's remarks created diplomatic shock waves last week. He was reportedly overheard discussing the sexual assault charges against Israeli President Moshe Katsav with visiting Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert at the Kremlin .Russia's Kommersant daily quoted Putin telling Olmert that Katsav was "a powerful guy. He raped ten women."

"We all envy him," the daily quoted Putin as saying.

According to a Kremlin spokesman, Putin's comments were mistranslated .

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