Friday, January 30, 2009

putin q&a after davos keynote address

Dallas News | After Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin gave a speech this week at the Davos summit on a variety of topics, Michael Dell (who knows something about building computers) asked in an open forum how the IT industry could help expand information technology in Russia.

Apparently that was the equivalent of insulting Putin's mother, as Fortune reports:
Russia has been allergic to offers of aid from the West ever since hundreds of overpaid consultants arrived in Moscow after the collapse of Communism, in 1991, and proceeded to hand out an array of advice that proved, at times, useless or dangerous.

Putin's withering reply to Dell: "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity." The slapdown took many of the people in the audience by surprise. Putin then went on to outline some of the steps the Russian government has taken to wire up the country, including remote villages in Siberia. And, in a final dig at Dell, he talked about how Russian scientists were rightly respected not for their hardware, but for their software. The implication: Any old fool can build a PC outfit.
Here's a video of the exchange (it happens right at the beginning). It's hard to tell from the video how much of the insult was intended and how much was just lost in translation, but Putin clearly isn't inviting Dell to open a factory in Volgograd.