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Irritable Putin Offers Reporter Circumcision

Published: November 15, 2002 (Issue # 820)


MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin's diatribe against radical Islam at a press conference in Brussels ended in embarassment when he rounded out his reply to a French reporter with a crude joke, inviting anyone wishing to be circumcised to come to Moscow, where the operation would be done in such a way as to make sure that "nothing grows back."

The scandalous comment, made late Monday, was immediately picked up by non-state Russian media but elicited a delayed reaction in the West due to translation problems.

In response to a Le Monde reporter, who questioned Russia's use of anti-personnel land mines and fragmentation bombs in Chechnya, Putin began, rather calmly, by saying that Chechnya was a "complex conglomeration of problems." He reiterated that the separatist movement in the republic was overtaken by radical Muslims and terrorists who filled the vacuum of power.

"No one can accuse Russia of suppressing freedom," Putin said. "Russia de facto gave full independence to the Chechen republic [in 1996]. In 1999, we had to pay for it. Wide-scale aggression against Russia, in the republic of Dagestan, took place under the slogan of creating a caliphate [Muslim theocracy] ... by tearing apart territories of the Russian Federation. What does that have to do with Chechnya's independence?"

People who inspire and finance Chechen fighters are "religious extremists and international terrorists," he continued. But Russia is only the first line of defense, he said, because "the radicals" have wide ambitions and "speak about the creation of a global caliphate."

As he became increasingly impassioned, he began to go through the categories of all those who are under threat from radical Muslims.

"They speak about the necessity to kill Americans and their allies. I think you come from a country that happens to be an ally of the United States - you are in danger," Putin said in addressing the French reporter.

"They are talking about the need to kill all kafirs [infidels], all non-Muslims, or Crusaders, as they say. If you are a Christian, you are in danger!"

"But if you decide to reject your faith and become an atheist, you are also subject to liquidation according to their way of thinking. ... You are in danger!"

"If you decide to become a Muslim, even that won't save you. Because they consider traditional Islam also to be hostile to the goals they advocate. Even in that case you are in danger!"

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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