Ukrainian Foreign Minister Does ‘Ask-Me-Anything’ on Russian Geek Forum

Pavel Klimkin holds up a piece of paper for a proof pic during his online chat. Image from Facebook.

Pavel Klimkin holds up a piece of paper for a proof pic during his online chat. Image from Facebook.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin showed up on, a Russian geek forum, this morning to do an ‘Ask-Me-Anything’ style Q&A session with its users.

Klimkin, who is fairly active on Twitter, spent an hour answering questions from the crowd on (also known as, one of the earliest collective blog websites in the RuNet, founded in 2001—a precursor to the likes of Reddit and 4chan.

Had a unique experience today. Spoke in an online chat with some Russians. There were also Kazakhs and Ukrainians. I liked it.

Users posted over a hundred questions for the Minister, and he managed to answer a few dozen during the one-hour Q&A session, assisted by a ministry employee. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs later posted an archive of the conversation on its official Facebook page.

Most of the questions posed by netizens revolved around the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the economic repercussions of the conflict for Ukraine, and the relationship with other members of the international community in a diplomatically delicate time.

However, a few questions were of a more provocative nature, as some users questioned why the Minister was giving his time to a “purely pro-Russian website.”

Вопрос: Уважаемый Павел! Как вы относитесь к тому, что вы выступаете сейчас на сугубо пророссийском ресурсе, поддерживающем политику Кремля?

Ответ: Во–первых, меня пока еще не приглашали давать интервью на Первом канале российского телевидения. И даже Лайф Ньюз обходит меня стороной. Разве что КоммерсантЪ до нас добрался. Поэтому выступаю на ресурсах, которые открыты для всех, в том числе и для меня

Q: Dear Pavel! What is your stance on the fact that you are presently on a purely pro-Russian website, which supports the Kremlin's policy?

A: First of all, I haven't been invited for an interview on Russian Channel One TV yet. And even LifeNews are steering clear. Maybe Kommersant has reached out to us. So I go and talk to outlets that are open to everyone, including to me.

Another user wondered if the diplomat had ever felt the need to be undiplomatic during his day job.

Вопрос: Бывало ли за все время карьеры, что на переговорах хочется той стороне дать в морду, но нельзя, потому что в данной ситуации это была бы слишком резкая реакция? Насколько вообще сложно послам прятать личные эмоции под маской дипломата? Или такой проблемы вообще нет?

Ответ: Я, вообще–то, в своей спортивной карьере сначала классической борьбой занимался, потом самбо, потом каратэ. Поэтому арсенал средств только “дать в морду” не ограничивается . А эмоции иногда прятать приходится. Зато тем важнее их иногда по–настоящему показывать.

Q: During all of your career, have you ever wanted, during the negotiations, to smash the other side's face in, but couldn't, because that kind of reaction would be too harsh? How difficult is it for ambassadors to hide personal emotions behind a diplomat's mask? Or is it not a problem at all?

A: Actually, during my sport career, I did classical [Greco-Roman] wrestling first, then sambo, then karate. So my arsenal in that sense is not limited to “smashing someone's face in.” But emotions I do have to hide sometimes. And it's all the more important to be able to really show them at other times.

Judging from the user comments, most of the site's denizens found the Minister to be refreshingly down-to-earth and hoped more politicians in Ukraine could follow his example.

[…] Не то чтобы я ждал каких–то откровений, тем более от дипломата, однако тенденция обнадеживает. Спасибо.

[…] Создаётся абсолютно новое лично для меня, невиданное прежде на просторах постсовкового фоллаута ощущение действующего канала связи с властью. Причём, вне зависимости от каких–то программных инициатив и заявлений со стороны неуклюжей государственной машины, но через единицы — осознавших, что проще и продуктивней конкурировать в естественном рабочем поле.

[…] Not that I expected any revelations, especially from a diplomat, but the trend is heartening. Thank you.

[…] We are seeing the emergence of a totally new, unseen in the post-Soviet fallout landscape, sense of a working communication channel with the authorities. Regardless of any program statements of agendas from a clunky state mechanism, but through these individuals who realized that it's far simpler and more productive to compete in their natural working habitat.

A Ukrainian diplomat venturing out to a popular Russian online community could be a sign of good will, or a desire to demonstrate just how open and transparent the new Ukrainian government truly is. Interpret this with as much or as little skepticism as you might, but when one user asked if Russian FM Lavrov might consider doing an ‘Ask-Me-Anything’ on the site next, the reaction was one of mild disbelief. We're guessing the RuNet won't be holding its breath.

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