What, no comment on Marianne’s breasts?

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September 16, 2014 by AK

A somewhat sanitized version of an old Soviet joke: A group of students at the Soviet Academy of Foreign Relations – all male, all future diplomats – are told to draw up a note of protest to a leader of a third-world nation. The professor goes through the draft they have produced and nods approvingly:

“Good job, boys! Just one little thing – we old-school diplomats prefer to hyphenate ‘mother-f*cker’.”

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA, or MID in Russian) has put up a statement on its website condemning the acquittal by a Paris court of Femen activists accused of degrading a place of worship. Miriam Elder called it “sternly and colorfully worded”: not sure about stern, but colorful it definitely was, which could have been the reason it was not published on the MFA site in any other language but Russian.

And what else could you expect from French justice since the scandalously notorious chieftain of the provocatresses, Inna Shevchenko, was chosen in 2013 as Marianne, the symbol of republican France.

It would take a translator of Zoschenko to convey the taste and tinge of this passage. The word provokatorsha, which I rendered as “provocatress”, is not quite diplomatic. The passage reads like the Russians wanted to add an unflattering comment on that Marianne’s breasts but their fingers froze in a sudden spell of sobriety. Read Elder’s piece to get the whole picture. Also, Interfax’s report on the statement is here, in English.


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