Professor of linguistics Tatiana Akhmetova on the role of cursing in Russian politics and culture
"I can call many names of the people from the cultural elite of the past and the present who curse much”, says professor of linguistics Tatian Akhmetova who has been studying Russian cursing words all her life.
...”In the Party circles, a little cursing was considered quite decent and democratic conduct. Lenin called Leo Trotsky in his absence “a whore” and “a prostitute”, and he called Molotov “stone ass”. Stalin was not ashamed to write his instructions in cursing words, although he had female employees in his office. He used to sing cursing couplets at the Kremlin parties. Khrushchev became notorious with his calling artists “sodomites”.
Leonid Brezhnev was cursing much when he was hunting. Among Brezhnev’s companions, cursing was common, and only Suslov, Gromyko and Andropov never cursed. Surprisingly, subtle Mikhail Gorbachev cursed quite well. However, he cursed in public only twice: the first time, when he allegedly called the plotters of the failed August 1991 coup “penises”, and the second time – when he promised to explain after the coup “who is …penis”.
One day, a famous sports commentator Nikolai Ozerov was not able to cope with his emotions. He commented live on a soccer game where the Soviet team was playing. The Soviet sportsmen were attacking. All of a sudden, the commentator thought that a goal was scored, and he started shouting, “G-o-o-o-a”. Then he stopped shouting as there had been no goal scored, and hе exclaimed, “Fuck… The ball hit the cross-bar”. For this, the bosses banned Ozerov from going live with his comments.
Today cursing words seemed to become much popular in Russia, they can be heard even in the Parliament. The story about politician, general Alexander Lebed who could not pronounce a sentence with no cursing word, was made public. One day he cursed right in front of TV cameras. That day was the first in the history of TV when there was peep in a program on political news.
They said in the Kremlin that former Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin cursed much.
Meanwhile, nobody heard Head of Yabloko democratic party Grigory Yavlinsky and former Chairman of Russian Parliament Gennagy Seleznev cursing. Seleznev, “I never use cursing words. I can curse if a log fall onto me as God will forgive my wording in such cases”. Yavlinsky, “Nobody heard me cursing even when I was angry”.
Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin liked to curse when he was speaking to his subordinates. “This is not surprising as Boris Yeltsin worked as CEO of a construction company at the start of his career, and there was no other way to communicate with workers as to curse. Probably it is hard for him to get rid of his habit to curse”, said the former colleagues of Boris Yeltsin. However, Vladimir Putin cursed only when he was a teenager. His former classmates recall that the Putin cursed until he finished 6th grade at school – the future Russian President used to communicate with the local hooligans.