Audio content: Putin responds to questions about Russian interference in the US presidential election. Includes many examples of his trademark folksy-aggressive communicative style.
Video embedded below and available on Youtube. [UPDATED 7/23/2017 after the previous video was taken down]
I thought Luch sveta readers and Russian language learners would find it interesting to check in on what President Vladimir Putin has been saying about claims of Russian interference in foreign elections. The video featured in this post is also an excellent example of Putin’s distinctive speech style (see comments below). To get a real feel for who Putin is, you need to hear him speaking in Russian in a non-scripted, combative setting like this one.
In the clip below, Putin responds to questions from NBC News journalist Megyn Kelly during an event at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (Петербургский международный экономический форум) in early June 2017. (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sitting between the two of them.) The Forum is an annual event intended to build connections between Russian and foreign business and political leaders. The event has become quite prestigious since Putin began promoting and attending it regularly in the mid-2000s.
Keep some background information in mind as you listen to Putin’s comments. In October 2016 the U.S. Intelligence Community announced that it was confident the Russian government was behind the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. In January 2017 the CIA and FBI expressed “high confidence” that Putin had personally ordered a broad influence campaign meant to improve Trump’s election prospects and also undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process regardless of which candidate would win. The same report found that Russian hackers had gained access to voter information from several U.S. state election systems, but it did not find that actual vote tallies were altered. The Russian government’s influence campaign also involved the spreading of false information on social media channels. Russia’s influence campaigns are not limited to the U.S.; Russian media outlets also spread false information during the spring 2017 French presidential campaign, and the eventual victor, French President Emmanuel Macron, said that his campaign experienced many hacking attempts.
The Russian government’s response, as you’ll see in the video, is to deny the allegations, labeling them as hysterical or irrational Russophobia. Putin suggests that