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June 14, 2013

Putin struggles manfully with English

Vladimir PutinThe Telegraph reports on a recent video recorded by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who struggled with his English and "appeared to be chewing a toffee".

While the Russian president gets full marks for effort, his facial gymnastics as he tackles a video message in English have prompted amusement both at home and abroad.

Mr Putin, 60, speaks good German but does not know English so well and has only essayed the language publicly on a few occasions.

Past attempts include an assured presentation six years ago of Russia’s bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics (it won) and a memorable rendition of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” at a charity event in 2010.

This week, Mr Putin seemed more challenged by the demands of a video plea to organisers of World Expo, the global fair which Russia wants to bring to the Urals city of Yekaterinburg in 2020.

At times the president appeared to be chewing a toffee as he explained that Russia had a long history of taking part in the fair but had never hosted it.

Despite a heavy accent and a nervously flapping arm, Mr Putin – apparently speaking in a gilded Kremlin hall - only stumbled over his words once as he said Yekaterinburg would build a “massive state-of-the art complex” which could host 30 million visitors over the course of the fair.

The Washington Post noted that the Russian leader had spoken, “a bit awkwardly, [giving] a somewhat strange display for those of us accustomed to seeing Putin’s carefully maintained tough-guy air”.

Watch the video on the Telegraph website.

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That wasn't so bad (unlike his human rights record) and I think it's out of order (and typical) of the Telegraph to sneer. Should he have to be able to speak English anyway?

I totally agree, Patrick.

It was very cheap of the Telegraph to make fun of the way Putin speaks English. How well do the staff of the Telegraph speak Russian?

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