Putin’s ‘Cannibals’ Gaffe
David Wooding, Sun (London), June 14
Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked uproar yesterday by saying Africans had a history of CANNIBALISM.
He lashed out at the continent’s past after being challenged about his human rights’ record.
In an astonishing outburst, Mr Putin said: “We all know that African countries used to have a tradition of eating their own adversaries.
“We don’t have such a tradition or process or culture and I believe the comparison between Africa and Russia is not quite just.”
Tony Blair, who had just finished talks with Mr Putin, was left squirming with embarrassment as the former KGB boss let rip.
Minutes before the outburst, Mr Blair had hailed reaching a deal with the Russian leader on aid and debt relief for Africa.
But Mr Putin’s remarks about cannibalism will be greeted with astonishment in Africa and the wider world, as he will succeed the PM as G8 president next year.
Commission for Racial Equality chief Trevor Phillips said last night: “What a preposterous thing to say. He is at best insensitive and at worst a downright racist.”
Mr Putin had invited Mr Blair to his country residence for talks about the Prime Minister’s drive to wipe out third world poverty before next month’s G8 summit at Gleneagles.
The pair struck a deal after Mr Blair agreed to Mr Putin’s demands that aid was linked to Africa’s move towards democracy.
Earlier Mr Blair made a grovelling public apology for being the only senior world leader to miss a gathering to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Moscow last month.
He sent Deputy PM John Prescott instead.
Without prompting, Mr Blair said sorry yesterday and paid tribute to the “courage, dedication and heroism” of the Russian people.
(Posted on June 14, 2005)