- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unfortunate gaffe Thursday during his annual televised news conference, when he joked that a journalist who asked about a local alcoholic drink, was drunk himself, but it was later revealed that the reporter had suffered two strokes and a brain injury that affected his speech.

Vladimir Mamatov, a Kirov-based journalist for the Reporter newspaper, asked Mr. Putin about the production of kvas, a local drink made from fermented bread that is slightly alcoholic.

“A very down-to-earth question. … We produce kvas in my town.” Mr. Mamatov began, stumbling on his words, NBC News reported.

“I have a feeling you’ve had some kvas already,” Mr. Putin replied to audience laughter.

Journalists latched onto the joke, circulating the remark on Twitter.

“Obviously drunk journalist asks Putin how he can get local kvas into supermarkets. ‘I see you’ve already partaken in your kvas’ Putin cracks,” Alec Luhn, a journalist for The Nation, tweeted.

An employee at The Reporter confirmed to NBC that Mr. Mamatov has suffered two strokes and a brain injury and that his speech is slow.

Russia Today issued a correction on its Twitter feed, and the gaffe has made headlines.

“Correction: Kirov journo who asked #Putin about #Kvas NOT drunk — survived multiple strokes,” Russia Today tweeted.

“Work is Kirov journalist peddling Vyatka Kvass, whom we joked was drunk, actually a stroke survivor. I’m sorry. Vyatka Kvass still hilarious,” Mr. Luhn wrote in his most recent tweet.

Mr. Putin was crowned Russia’s “Man of the Year” this week for the 15th year in a row, Russian news source Interfax reported. 

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