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Lost In Translation: Kremlin Corrects Macron's Statement About Elections After Criticism

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in southern France on August 20. (
French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in southern France on August 20. (

The Kremlin's website has corrected translations of some statements by French President Emmanuel Macron after the meanings of statements he made on elections while at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were reversed.

A translated transcript of the August 20 news conference had several inconsistencies surrounding Macron's comments on fair and free elections, often omitting references to votes entirely.

Most of the dropped phrases were fixed by August 22, though some remain missing, according to the transcripts on the website.

"This is a script that is following the words of a simultaneous interpreter," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to criticism that the Kremlin had purposely misquoted Macron.

"That [mistakes] happens...interpreters have a challenging job.”

Macron and Putin met in southern France on August 20 the two leaders spoke about a variety of subjects.

High on the agenda was free speech and fair elections following a severe Russian police crackdown in recent weeks against protesters rallying after many opposition and independent politicians were left off candidate lists by election commission officials.

One example of a mistranslation was the initial Russian version of Macron's statement about Yellow Vests protests in France in 2018.

The statement, placed on the Kremlin’s website, quoted the French leader as saying: "Yellow Vests were unable to take part in the European elections" last fall, while in fact, Macron said: "Yellow Vests were able to take part in the elections" following their protests.

The text on the Kremlin's website was fixed, but Macron's words about French authorities' support for the Yellow Vests movement activists' "free expression during elections because it decreases conflict in the situation" were still not included in the reworked text.

According to the BBC, a statement Macron made about European Union countries respecting the rights of expression, free assembly, and participation in elections, were also not included into the Russian translation on the Kremlin's website.

The BBC also noted that a Russian translation of Macron's words about Paris's "concerns over the arrests of [people in Moscow] and their right to take part in the elections" omitted the word "elections" and said instead that "concerns over arrests and so on, and all the impediments created by law enforcement organs."

Police in Moscow detained thousands of protesters at several sanctioned and unsanctioned rallies in recent weeks, where demonstrators challenged the authorities' refusal to register opposition and independent candidates for municipal elections scheduled for September 8.

With reporting by the BBC