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By John Helmer, Moscow

On Monday President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded to British and American press reports about the Skripal case by saying the Kremlin had decided not to respond.   “We will no longer talk with the media. The BBC cannot confirm anything; the BBC can put forward an assumption or something else. Since the whole discussion has been conducted at the media level, we, as the Kremlin, no longer want to take part in that discussion.”

On Wednesday, in a speech to the international oil and gas industry,   the state news agency Tass reported President Putin as declaring:   “Some media outlets are trying to put forward the idea that [Sergei] Skripal was practically a human rights defender. He is simply a spy and a traitor to his country. He is just scum (подонок) and that is it.”

Watch the session in full, with English translation voice-over.

The question about Skripal was asked by Ryan Chilcote, an American broadcaster employed by CNN, the US Public Broadcasting System, and Bloomberg. Chilcote offers himself for hire through the London Speakers Bureau   “Bring Ryan Chilcote as a keynote speaker to your next event to motivate your audience”, his agent announces.

Chilcote didn’t ask Putin a direct question about Skripal. He asked about the sanctions which have followed. “After the situation with Skripal, sanctions have increased; in November, possibly, there will already be new sanctions. What is Russia going to do the change the trajectory of relations with the United States and with the West?”

Putin decided to speak directly about Skripal at Min:1:05:41. Подонок appears at Min:1:07:03.

Kremlin record of Putin’s speech and Q&A session: http://en.kremlin.ru/

The Tass translation for Putin’s term подонок is not the accepted one. Scumbag and bastard are more common translations. The live voice-over English translation as Putin was speaking was “scoundrel”. Reuters, Bloomberg, the Murdoch press, and CNN opted for scumbag.  The official Kremlin translation into English says: “He is scum, that’s all.” 

Kremlin text: http://kremlin.ru/

Putin spoke about the Skripal case for almost five minutes. The Tass and other press reports have compressed his remarks. “He is just a spy, a traitor to the motherland. Do you understand? There is such a concept as ‘traitor to the motherland’ [audience applause].  He’s one of them.”

“Just imagine the situation – you are a citizen of your own country, and all of a sudden in your country, there is a person who betrays it.  How will you treat him – the normal reaction would be to say he’s a подонок, that’s all. And around it a whole information campaign has been launched.  I hope this will blow over, the sooner the better. All this squabbling between the special services didn’t just surface yesterday. As we all know, espionage, just like prostitution, is one of the world’s most important professions. No one has ever shut it down, nor is anyone still able to close it down.”

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