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Ukrainian diplomat hurls expletive at Putin

AFP/Getty Images
Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends the ceremony of handing out the 2013 Russian Federation National Awards for achievements in science and technology, literature and art as well as humanitarian activity at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MAXIM SHIPENKOVMAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images

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By The Washington Post
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 5:48 p.m.
 

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainians have called Vladimir Putin a lot of bad names, among them a Nazi, a dictator and plain evil.

But nothing has caused a firestorm quite like a Ukrainian diplomat's use of a schoolyard epithet to describe the Russian president during an unscripted moment on Saturday night.

Russian lawmakers called on Sunday for the dismissal of Ukraine's interim foreign minister, Andrii Deshchytsia, because of the language he used toward Putin. Deshchytsia said the insult breezily as he sought to calm protesters and halt an attack on the Russian Embassy in Kiev.

He had waded into a near-riot as hundreds of people vented their rage at the loss of 49 Ukrainian service members earlier in the day. Pro-Russian separatists, armed with weapons that many believe were supplied by Russia, shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane as it approached the airport in the eastern city of Luhansk, killing all aboard.

Every window in the three-story Russian Embassy was broken as protesters threw bricks, paint balls and car parts ripped off diplomatic vehicles.

Deshchytsia pleaded for them to halt the violence. He noted that Ukraine has an obligation to defend embassies and stressed that he was not asking them to quit protesting, but to be peaceful.

“I am ready to be here with you and say, ‘Russia, get out of Ukraine,' ” he said.

Then, he mouthed the words that would cause an international incident: “Putin is a d---head, yes.”

The remark drew cheers from protesters within earshot and prompted many of them to chant along.

The phrase originated with rival soccer teams, which in March paraded through the eastern city of Kharkiv chanting the phrase in a singsong voice, with the refrain “La la la la la la la la la.” It took off and soon became a staple at soccer games and protests. Ukrainian tourists have taken videos of themselves singing the words, often with embarrassed giggles, while on vacations abroad — at a sake bar in Japan, accompanied by a mariachi band in Los Angeles, sitting in the bleachers at a World Cup game in Brazil.

 

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