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Russian FM Lavrov’s facemask unmasks his attitude towards quarantine

Whilst on his diplomatic trip to China, the true attitude of Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov towards anti-COVID-19 measures such as the popular practice of quarantine got roughly, and quite inadvertently unmasked by the legend on the official’s mask reading “FCKNG QRNTN”.

As simple as the message is, it actually does leave some room for interpretation. The more recognised one would be that the entire phrase consists of consonants of two English words, the former one meaning “detestable”, albeit, in a more explicit than usual spelling, the latter unmistakably denoting “quarantine”.

Another interpretation of the two cryptic consonant clusters would indicate the same origin of the former word, although with a different meaning of “very”, whereas the latter may perhaps be an alternative Latin transcript of the colloquial Russian word круто (“kruto”), meaning “cool!”.

Whether the Russian head of diplomacy and foreign affairs wanted to communicate his displeasure with the sanitary restrictions in China or just express his sincere admiration of the place and time he has just found himself in remains an enigma we will not likely solve any time soon.

What remains clear is that whatever Mr Lavrov intended to achieve went viral on the net and caused quite a stir worldwide. This is all the more so because the video showing him wearing the mask was published on the official TikTok profile of the Russian MFA.

It turns out that in the end, if anything bad comes out of this (un)masking, these are the media to be blamed. As Russia’s press agency RIA Novosti reported, the mask was handed to Mr Lavrov by journalists on Sunday when he celebrated his 71st birthday.

Diplomacy, however, in the face of your counterparts and especially rivals for hegemony, seems to be of higher importance than personal opinions, as Mr Lavrov was seen today during the meeting with China’s FM Wang Yi wearing a neutral, diplomatically light-blue surgical facemask.


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