Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin

French pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy saved the Pres­i­dent of Geor­gia from being hanged “by the balls” — a threat made last sum­mer by Vladimir Putin, accord­ing to an account that emerged yes­ter­day from the Élysée Palace.

With Russ­ian tanks only 30 miles from Tbil­isi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the over­throw of Georgia’s Gov­ern­ment. Accord­ing to Mr Levitte, the Russ­ian seemed uncon­cerned by inter­na­tion­al reac­tion.

“I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had mis­heard. “Hang him?” — he asked.

“Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Amer­i­cans hanged Sad­dam Hus­sein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the famil­iar tu, tried to rea­son with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [Pres­i­dent] Bush?”

Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”

Gepubliceerd door Stijn Vogels

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