Putin’s Culinary Rhetoric

horilka.jpgOver at the FT Brussels Blog, Tony Barber points to a news conference held last week between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the press corps, in which Russia’s invokes repeated references to Ukrainian food and drink in order to make his point about European bureaucracy (suggesting that they will probably just sit around drinking).

The discussion, which centres on the shut-off of Russian gas deliveries to the European Union via Ukraine, turns at one point to the possible deployment of EU monitors along the pipeline route through Ukrainian territory. “We hope that the issue will be resolved expeditiously. We don’t want a group of men and women to come to Kiev and just sit in a hotel and sip horilka [Ukrainian vodka],” Putin says. (…)

Answering a question on how anyone can know who is telling the truthabout the gas crisis, Putin once again uses Ukrainian food imagery. “Ifyou are not sure, send your own observers to the border between Russiaand Ukraine, and to the border between Ukraine and western Europe. Goahead. Sit there and watch from morning to night, eat salo [pig fat] and chase it down with horilka . They have excellent pig fat in Ukraine. My friends send it to me from Ukraine.”

Onlyat one point is there a hint of Putin’s KGB background, and of thepersonal world view that such a background helps to shape. Headmonishes the reporters: “I don’t know what you’re going to write andwhat directions you will get from your bosses. Everything points to thefact that there are some directions, because the picture beingpresented is absolutely biased . . . “