Insult without an answer: how the West failed to understand the Kremlin

Yesterday, Russian-speaking Facebook users discussed the recent speech of the new Russian representative to the U.N. Security Council.

This speech still shocks Russian language users and provides material for gloomy jokes about modern Russian diplomacy. However, there is no reaction outside the “Russian world.»  Nobody even noticed that Russian official yesterday surpassed Nikita Khrushchev at the UN official meeting. Let us explain what exactly happened.

Vladimir Safronkov has recently joined the Russian delegation to the Security Council of the UN. And yesterday he became famous among all Russian citizens for his speech. Addressing the representative of Great Britain, Matthew Rycroft, he told the following: “And it is because you’re scared. You’ve lost your sleep about this. That we could cooperate with the United States. You’re scared of it. You do everything to undermine this cooperation. That is why… DON’T LOOK AWAY! WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AWAY?! That is why YOU tell nothing today about the political process. YOU’ve spoken not according to agenda, Mr. Rycroft. YOU insulted Syria, Iran, Turkey, other countries. Mr. Chairman, my request is to keep order at the meeting. If somebody irresponsibly, abusively, switching to slang, refers to his place at the Security Council. YOU do not dare insult Russia ever!»

The English “you” doesn’t convey all nuances of this speech and interpreters in the UN couldn’t deliver the real sense and meaning of this statement. I specially highlighted the word, to show where the speech is inappropriate.

Kremlin propaganda media yesterday chanted Mr. Safronenkov for the “hard answer to the representative of the Great Britain.» They said that Safronenkov “chastised Rycroft,“ and showed that Russia should be respected.»

 At the same time this speech caused shock, squeamishness and disgust of the educated part of Russian society. Even more, they were ashamed for their country and for the person who represents it in the most prestigious international organization of the world. Actually Mr. Safronenkov was publicly nagging UK counterpart Matthew Rycroft and, in fact, offending all Great Britain citizens. Blaming Rycroft and using slang, Safronenkov himself chose the inappropriate style. 

After more or less an official beginning, Safronenkov, at the words “don’t look away” started using “ty” instead of “vy”, the address which in Russian could be used only between very close friends, relatives, but in conversation with unfamiliar people is primarily used in prison slang and implies very rude forms. The sentence “Don’t look away! Why are you looking away?” in Russian is very insulting in any situation. The cruel father could speak this way to his son to humiliate the child. If the rude boss tells such words to the employee, it might be a basis to file a court complaint. This style is popular in Russian prisons as humiliation is a base of the system there. Now, we hear it used in an official meeting of the Security Council. Nobody could have imagined this manner of speaking before.

Usually, when an ill-mannered person joins a decent society, he is quickly told how he should behave. However, today we could see an opposite picture: brats dictate us how to behave, they insult us and see just shy smiles in response, or even recognition and support of the part of the society. Just two questions I have with regards to this situation. How long do we have to stand this degradation? When will somebody finally stop these cannibals and show them the place they really belong? 


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