Anyway, it got me feeling nostalgic, so I took out my Dear Diary 2001 - and, among other things, found this clipping from the Financial Times (that I most likely picked on the connecting Paris-Moscow flight on May 16), about the late Victor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin and another dimension of "the language issue" (a somewhat distorted/exaggerated take on it):
FT, May 16, 2001
Victor Chernomyrdin's appointment as Russia's new ambassador to Ukraine may have taken many people by surprise, but he will have at least one advantage in his new job.
Onserver learns that he and Leonid Kuchma, the president of Ukraine, speak a slang-ridden version of Russian that is almost incomprehensible even for close associates to understand.
Given all the secretly recorded conversations that seem to have leaked from Kuchma's office in recent months, including a tape-recording of alleged instructions to kill a journalist, any future discussions between Kuchma and Chernomyrdin would leave any Russian or Ukrainian enemies scratching their heads in bewilderment. Not to mention any CIA moles who might be listening in.