Russia's prime minister is in a spot of trouble this week after a controversial post-interview comment he made about the country's security forces was captured on tape and made public on the Internet.
According to AFP, Dmitry Medvedev's off-the-cuff comment, in which he called security forces "jerks" for launching an early morning raid against a filmmaker, has exposed the "stark divisions within Russia's elite."
Medvedev's so-called "hot mic" snafu occurred Friday after he gave an end-of-year interview to five major Russian channels. AFP reports that the interview was "a clear bid [by Medvedev] to keep up his profile after ceding the Kremlin to his mentor Vladimir Putin earlier this year."
However, though the prime minister discussed a number of salient domestic issues -- including corruption, the military and Russia's smoking, libel and gun laws -- during the interview, it's what Medvedev said behind the scenes that has tongues wagging.
In a casual five-minute exchange that was captured by Russia's state-controlled broadcaster Russia Today and posted on YouTube, Medvedev chatted with journalists after the conclusion of the interview.
During the presumably off-the-record conversation, the prime minister touches upon a number of banal topics, including the existence of Santa Claus and wristwatches.
But the conversation took a more serious turn after Medvedev -- who was apparently unaware that the cameras were still rolling -- stood up from his seat and walked off-screen. His mic was still turned on and his subsequent chat with newscaster Alexei Pivovarov can be heard off-camera.
"Everything is going to be alright, do not worry," Medvedev can be heard telling Pivovarov.
"They're jerks for turning up at eight in the morning," he added, using a disparaging slang term that literally means "goats" and can also be translated as "idiots" or "morons."
The prime minister was referring to the early morning raid conducted by security forces of the home of Pavel Kostomarov, a filmmaker who is currently working on a political documentary about opposition leaders. The raid took place on Friday morning, the Moscow Times reports.
"It's just habit, basically. I have many people who work in the security forces and they think that if they come at seven in the morning, they will get everything," Medvedev continued in his chat with Pivovarov, who is one of the co-producers of the documentary.
After Medvedev's comments were made public online, the spokesman of the investigative committee that carried out the raid slammed the prime minister for casting aspersions on Russia's security forces.
"It's very strange to hear comments that don't only insult Russian investigators but that also undermine all the security forces of the country," spokesman Vladimir Markin said. (The spokesman's comments, which had been posted on the committee's website, were later taken down, according to Russian news website Newsru.com)
Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova has declined to comment on what she has dubbed an off-air, "eavesdropped" conversation, Russian news site Lenta.ru reports.
But Alexei Mukhin, Director General of the Center for Political Information, said it would behoove the prime minister to apologize.
"Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly been [caught making] emotional comments, which he has later regretted. In this situation, he should distance himself [from the comment] quickly, politely, and, as they say, without showing off… just apologize," he said, according to Newsru.com.
As Sky News notes, this is not the first time that a politician has been caught unawares by a "hot mic":
In 2010, the then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was heard calling pensioner Gillian Duffy a "bigoted woman" during a pre-election visit to Rochdale, while former US President George W Bush was caught using an expletive during a conversation with Tony Blair about Syria in 2006.