September 01, 2009

Milky Ways

Milky Ways

A milk war broke out between Belarus and Russia in June, providing ample food for thought about the role of milk in Russian.

In an article titled “Лукашенко попал в молоко” (Lukashenko hit the milk), the pro-Putin (and pro-Medvedev too, if that distinction is of any importance) Komsomolskaya Pravda lashed out at the Belarusan leader, who boycotted a Moscow-led security summit to protest a Russian ban on Belarusan dairy products. Russia’s Federal Consumer Rights Protection Service had blacklisted some 1,300 Belarusan dairy products (молочные продукты) for not “meeting the standards of Russia’s new technical regulations.”

The headline comes from military slang. A poor shooter’s bullets miss the bullseye and instead попадают в молоко (hit the “milk,” i.e. the white spot on the target). In this particular case, it meant Lukashenko’s boycott of the summit fell flat. Russia’s central media, defending the position of the Medvedev-Putin duopoly, portrayed Lukashenko as a conniving politician who is trying to use Russia as a дойная корова (milk cow), benefiting from cheap Russian gas while sending some 80 percent of its dairy export to Russia, earning Lukashenko et al a neat $1 billion per year.

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