|Mr Putin reading, with the aid of an aide, the blog:|
“English Language Etiquette for Presidents”
After two years of hope and frustration, it is nice to have it confirmed that Mr Putin reads this blog.
I have written no fewer than 25 posts (out of 201 to date) which mention the awfulness of the Voice of Russia, this country’s answer to the BBC World Service, Radio Botswana and the Voice of Washington. I have been trying to illustrate the inappropriate nature of the language that the Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii) English service uses to try to persuade the Anglophone world that this country is cool, powerful, a military threat, happy, cultured, sober, tolerant, better than America, livelier than London, richer than Croesus, etc. [delete as applicable]. Even more than the Kremlin’s other official “soft power projection tools”, the Voice of Russia projects its views in such clumsy English that nobody takes it seriously.
In my posts I was trying to describe the problems in detail, hoping that things might change for the better. But nothing did change. Nobody seemed to be listening. I thought I was a voice crying in the wilderness. Now I know that Mr Putin was secretly listening to me somewhere within his own opulent, heavily-guarded, kitch-intensive wilderness. Wilderness spoke unto wilderness, and lo! on the Feast of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by St. Anne—that is “yesterday” to you, me and all other Protestants—Mr Putin announced that the Voice of Russia was to be abolished as an independent entity.
In both Khimki, where I keyboard, and on Pyatnitskaya, where the ten-storey brick “throat” containing that Voice is situated, there was joy unbounded. Glass clinked unto glass. Blogging, I thought it fair to conclude in my hour of triumph, is not a wholly useless activity. It is more than the mere entertainment which the knockers, the sceptics and the e-atheists claim it to be. It is, I now know, a subtle way of influencing Presidents of large countries and, in so doing, exerting a private but subversive form of “soft power”.
The only question I have concerns the entity which is to take over the Voice. It is to be known rather weirdly as “Russia Segodnya”. I always thought Segodnya was a Spanish classical guitarist, but perhaps I was wrong. Or maybe “Russia Segodnya” is his cousin who plays the balalaika?
In any event, I see from the news reports that Sergei Ivanov, the Head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, said to the press yesterday, “We must tell the truth, make it accessible to the most people possible [he should have said: “as many people as possible”] and use modern language.”
If the Kremlin wants to use language which normal people will understand, it has made a good start by abolishing the Voice of Russia. It should now follow that up by studying this blog to learn how to write clearly, simply and elegantly in English.
Russia сегодня demands, or should demand, no less.