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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier Laughs Alone in U.S.




Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin's performance during his trip to Washington won him newspaper headlines touting his presidential possibilities - but also highlighted the gap between Russian and U.S. humor.


Kommersant headlined its story Thursday with "Stepashin Has Seen His Presidential Future Across the Ocean," and said that the chance to appear on the world stage "left no doubt that he has practically begun his presidential race."


But the paper noted that Stepashin "gained few points" with a Soviet-era joke he told during a speech at the National Press Club about an American who asks a Russian about his tiny Zaporozhets. Asked how much "this amazing car" costs, the Russian replies, "Well, in your country you lynch blacks."


The point of the joke was the Soviet habit of replying to criticism of life in the country with criticism of U.S. social conditions. But the reference to lynching in front of a politically correct Washington audience produced, Kommersant said, a "frightening silence" in the hall.


Stepashin "philosophically" noted that Americans don't always get Russian humor.


The prime minister, who returned Wednesday, went to the Kremlin on Thursday to brief President Boris Yeltsin about the just-released International Monetary Fund loan for Russia and about a deal to conduct arms control talks with the United States next month.