language, again [re: Putin and Soviet collapse, translation]

Vladimir Putin file photo

Subject: language, again
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014
From: Harley D. Balzer <>

Patrick Armstrong issued a major attack on Aslund’s characterization of Putin’s comment about the destruction of the Soviet Union. He states:

So it is now perhaps time to see what it was that Putin actually said. Here it is: first in Russian, “Прежде всего следует признать, что крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века.” and then in the official translation into English, “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” Hyperlinks take you to Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly on 25 April 2005 on the Presidential website. That is the “original source”.

Not the greatest; not the most important; not the largest of anything. Not Number One. Not the superlative. One of many geopolitical disasters of the century, but a “major” one.

Armstrong is correct that the official English version says that the “collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster.” BUT THE ORIGINAL RUSSIA, WHICH ARMSTRONG HIMSELF PROVIDES, DOES INDEED TRANSLATE AS “THE MAJOR GEOPOLITICAL CATASTROPHE ”