The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Leaked video shows Vladimir Putin berating cabinet ministers

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not look like an easy boss, based on this video footage, which was allegedly taken in secret during a senior cabinet meeting. The video, leaked to the outlet LifeNews and now making big rounds on the Russian web, shows him relentlessly criticizing Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's senior cabinet ministers, threatening to fire all of them.

RussiaSlam, a site that reports on Russian social media, posted a version of the video with English subtitles and a full translation. The Kremlin, they report, says the video is real but that Putin was actually talking to regional officials; LifeNews claims the video refutes this and shows it was actually the cabinet.

The timing of the video's release is a bit suspicious. As The Guardian's Moscow correspondent, Miriam Elder, wrote on Twitter, "Putin slams Medvedev gov't in 'secret' video released hrs before Medvedev due to speak to Duma on year's work ... " The video makes Medvedev look pretty weak and gives Putin the appearance of cracking down on bad performance.

Here's RussiaSlam's translation:

In conclusion, I’m going to finish this session. I want to say the following. We all understand that the 2012 directives should be given our particular attention. I was hoping to be able to say this just in terms of the emergency fund, but now, I’m going to say it in terms of the entire package. Of course, it’s complicated. You think I don’t understand that it’s complicated? The problems are complicated, difficult to solve, even, but they’re solvable all the same. But we won’t solve them if we do what we’ve just been talking about. It’s no coincidence that we’re gathered right here right now. It was no coincidence that I asked for this meeting to be organised right now.
I have just said, while the TV cameras were running, ‘how are we going to fulfill these agreements?’  How are we working? The quality of our work is appalling. Everything is being done superficially, you understand me?! And if we’re going to carry on working like this, then not a damn thing will get done. But if we work harder, more professionally, with an understanding of what needs to be done, then we’ll do it. If we don’t do this, then we need to acknowledge that either I am working ineffectively, or all of you are working badly, and you need to go. I would like to point out that today, I’m leaning towards the second option. I think that you understand that we need to be frank with one another so that there are no misunderstandings.