Video: Russian President Vladimir Putin tries out his English

June 12, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his visit to the new studio complex of 'Russia Today' television channel. (Yuri Kochetkov/Reuters)

Russia's President Vladimir Putin knows how to get attention.

No, he didn't go gliding with Siberian cranes again. This time, he charmingly made an appeal to the delegates of the General Assembly of the International Exhibitions Bureau, presenting a case for his country to host the World Expo 2020. But why should you care?

Because he speaks English throughout his appeal, a bit awkwardly, a somewhat strange display for those of us accustomed to seeing Putin's carefully maintained tough-guy air.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to greet members and guests of the General Assembly of the International Exhibitions Bureau," he starts, with a heavy emphasis on each word, the strain clear on his face.

Watch the full video below:

Five countries — Turkey, Thailand, Russia, Brazil and the UAE — had initially bid to host the World Expo 2020. On Tuesday, the Bureau of International Expositions rejected the bid from Thailand after the government failed to endorse it.

That might explain the official Kremlin video that was posted on the same day, as Putin makes a case for Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia, to host one of the largest exhibitions in the world, held once every five years. The bureau is supposed to announce the host city sometime this year.

This is, however, certainly not the first time Putin has spoken English publicly. In 2007, as prime minister, Putin presented the bid for Russia to host the 2014 winter Olympics. He seemed more relaxed then. See the video below:

Putin's appeal to host the World Expo 2020 also comes on a day when thousands of protesters marched through Moscow, according to the Associated Press, criticizing the president for his "authoritarian rule" and demanding the release of political prisoners.

Anup Kaphle is the Post's digital foreign editor. He has an M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Max Fisher · June 12, 2013