Putin ridicules stroke survivor in press conference

The Russian president mistook a reporter’s slurred speech—which was actually a result of two strokes—as drunkenness.

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The year has offered a wealth of serious PR lessons. With just about two weeks left to go in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin has served up one more: Don’t openly mock reporters in press conferences. You don’t know what they’ve been through.

In a marathon Thursday presser, a reporter piped up with a question about regulations surrounding an alcoholic grain drink called kvas. Hearing the reporter’s slurred speech, Putin joked, “You’ve already had yours.”

The reporter, Vladimir Mamatov, wasn’t drunk; his speech impairment was the result of two strokes. In this video of the exchange, you’ll notice that people in the room start laughing at Marmatov before Putin replies:

Marmatov is a regional reporter (from the area that produces kvas) who apparently doesn’t get a lot of face time with the national press. After the conference, his fellow reporters realized their mistake:

We all, Putin included, assumed that Kirov region journo was drunk. His colleagues say he actually had two strokes? I feel really bad now.

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