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Wimmer had something to say on the topic of the national idea and value system that identifies Russia.
Putin was enthusiastic enough to ensure Wimmer’s translator was not needed, and the president had no trouble whatsoever in translating the former defense secretary as he spoke.
The German guest later wondered in an interview with RIA news agency if the episode qualified for the Guinness Book of World Records, as it’s not so often that a president acts as a translator at a public event.
Wimmer later told RT that he couldn’t ever expect the Russian president to become his interpreter.
“My wonderful translator was a surprise. I was surprised and I think the whole audience was surprised that the President made use of this opportunity and showed us his excellent knowledge of German language,” he said.
The former State Secretary of the German Defense Ministry stressed that it was pure improvisation on the part of Putin as “there was no chance to prepare” for him.
The amusing moment was provoked by a Russian journalist’s question at the very end of the President’s meeting with the press, and it referred to a discussion held on the previous day of the forum.
Following the event, Wimmer was invited for a one-on-one one chat with the Russian, calling it an indication of “how relaxed and how friendly the whole atmosphere in Saint Petersburg has been.”
“I told [Putin] that this is a unique opportunity that the president of such an important country translates in a public audience something, which is addressed by a guest. I think this never happened before,” he said.
According to the politician, he and the Russian president mainly talked about Wimmer’s native Dusseldorf area in Western Germany during their meeting.
The 3rd Truth and Justice Media Forum of Independent Regional and Local Media took place in Saint Petersburg from April 4 to April 7, gathering over 500 journalists, bloggers, officials and foreign guests.