Kremlin defends Putin ‘beauty’ remark to Ukrainian leader

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The Kremlin on Tuesday defended a remark denounced by some as offensive that Russian President Vladimir Putin made following talks on Ukraine with French leader Emmanuel Macron.

In a joint press conference with Macron, Putin criticized his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, who recently said he does not like the 2015 Minsk peace agreements on the country’s separatist conflicts.

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“Like it or not, beauty, you have to put up with it,” Putin said, using an expression that rhymes in Russian.

The remark sparked heated online debate, with some suggesting Putin was using the kind of language that justifies rape, while others said it was just a form of an expression used to scold children.

Asked about the remark in a call with reporters on Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no offence was intended.

“The president meant that if a state has taken on obligations... then it needs to fulfil them,” Peskov said.

He also said he was “convinced” that Putin was not familiar with the work of a Russian nineties rock band that had an almost identical line in the lyrics of a song with references to necrophilia.

“But I think that this band in its time borrowed this expression from Russian folklore,” Peskov said.

Putin is known for making controversial and sometimes coarse remarks, such as saying that if Russia wanted to kill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny it would have “finished the job” and telling Joe Biden that it “takes one to know one” after the US president agreed with comments that Putin was a “killer.”

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