Putin wanted to hang Saakashvili "like the Americans hanged Saddam"

Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:02 pm
Vladimir Putin 'wanted to hang Georgian President Saakashvili by the balls'

Nicolas Sarkozy saved the President of Georgia from being hanged “by the balls” " a threat made last summer by Vladimir Putin, according to an account that emerged yesterday from the Élysée Palace.

The Russian Prime Minister had revealed his plans for disposing of Mr Saakashvili when Mr Sarkozy was in Moscow in August to broker a ceasefire in Georgia.

Jean-David Levitte, Mr Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, reported the exchange in a news magazine before an EU-Russia summit today. The meeting will be chaired by the French leader and President Medvedev.

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” " he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah " you have scored a point there.”

Mr Saakashvili, who was in Paris to meet Mr Sarkozy yesterday, laughed nervously when a French radio station read him the exchange. “I knew about this scene, but not all the details. It’s funny, all the same,” he said.
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Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 07:55 am
@Robert Gentel,
It's funny to hear Putin supporting his threat with the "Monkey see, Monkey do" argument.

Robert Gentel
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 12:50 pm
Well they were pretty clear about warning the US that they'd take the US war on terror and Iraq as a precedent to take similar liberties. But that's not why I found this interesting. This is a remarkably blunt diplomatic exchange and these kinds of things rarely leak out. That Putin was calmed down with the specter of being like Bush was funny.
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 02:38 pm
@Robert Gentel,
its hilarious.
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Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 02:43 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Vladimir Putin 'wanted to hang Georgian President Saakashvili by the balls'

Was there any indication as to why Sarkozy would have objected?
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Merry Andrew
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 06:16 pm
It's an interesting story (especially the part about Sarkozy warning about a comparison with Bush; that's hilarious), but I wonder if the importance of it isn't being blown out of proportion. From the tenor of the reported exchange, I don't get the feeling at all that Putin was serious about actually executing Saakashvilli. The expression "I'll hang him by the balls" probably has a similar connotation in Russian as it does in the English idiom. In other words, it's not a literal threat, just a colloquial choice of words. Who knows how the French interpreter translated it for Sarkozy. It sounds as though Sarkozy caught only the word "hang" and was shocked. So Putin made a further joke out of it by pointing out that that's what Bush had done with Saddam.

A lot gets lost in translation. I think there's less here than meets the eye.
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