Russian minister subjected British counterpart to f-word tirade?

September 13th, 2008 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 13 (IANS) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov subjected his British counterpart David Miliband to a tirade filled with four-letter words at the height of the Russia-Georgia crisis, according to a blog by a British newspaper correspondent.Andrew Porter of the Daily Telegraph wrote in his blog on the newspaper’s website that he had been told of “an astonishing telephone conversation” where Miliband had to endure a “four-letter word tirade” by Russia’s Lavrov.

Describing Lavrov as “a veteran not known for diplomatic niceties”, the journalist quoted an unconfirmed report as suggesting that the Russian minister told Miliband at one point: “Who are you to f****** lecture me?”

“Such was the repeated use of the ‘F word’ according to one insider who has seen the transcript, it was difficult to draft a readable note of the conversation,” the blog said.

Miliband was apparently putting forth Britain’s and Europe’s objections to Russian actions against Georgia in the territory of South Ossetia.

Lavrov was also reported to have asked Miliband, who is often portrayed as a contender for the leadership of the ruling Labour Party, whether he knew anything of Russia’s history.

The journalist quoted an unnamed “Whitehall insider” as telling him: “It was effing this and effing that. It was not what you would call diplomatic language. It was rather shocking.”

“It is also understood that Mr Miliband was asked about Britain and America’s invasion of Iraq, when Russian actions in Georgia were questioned, during the tense conversation that took place recently,” Porter wrote.

The story was picked up Saturday by the Daily Mail, which, like the Daily Telegraph is sympathetic to the opposition Conservative Party.

The Daily Mail reported Lavrov used “full-strength industrial language to suggest to the foreign secretary that he knew little, if anything, of Russia’s history - perhaps unaware that Mr Miliband’s grandfather Samuel served in the Red Army and his father Ralph was a leading Marxist theoretician.”

In Moscow, meanwhile, Lavrov strongly denied that he had used four-letter words during the conversation.

“I was compared with Gromyko - ‘Grim Grom’,” Lavrov told reporters in a reference to the late long-serving Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, who was nicknamed Mr Nyet.

“This story is so wrong that we have de-classified the report of the conversation and are taking the unusual step of posting the text on our (Russian foreign ministry) website,” he added.

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