Russian president Vladamir Putin has been caught out joking about how virile the Israeli president is, following accusations that Moshe Katsav raped female members of his staff.
The BBC reports that Putin was overheard making the joke by a journalist, after a press conference with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The microphone then went dead, but journalist Andrei Kolesnikov told the BBC he heard the rest of the comment.
He said the president continued: “What a mighty man he turns out to be! He raped 10 women – I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all – we all envy him!”
There reportedly followed loud laughter among the official delegations.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov admitted: “Yes really, these words were pronounced.”
But he said it “in no way means that President Putin welcomes rape”.
“The president was joking,” he told the BBC’s World Today radio programme.
“Russian is a very complicated language, sometimes it is very sensitive from the point of view of phrasing.
“I don’t think that the proper translation is able to reflect the meaning of the joke.”
Something tells me that no linguistic subtleties can explain this gaff: rape just isn’t funny.