Russian-language media have reacted with surprise to a Haaretz report that Ehud Barak will mimic Vladimir Putin's statement about killing terrorists "on the toilet" as part of a campaign for the upcoming general elections.
Some journalists have claimed that it was in fact Barak's military exploits that inspired the Russian president's comments.
"As you people say, they should be whacked when they're on the toilet," the Labor leader and defense minister will say in a radio election broadcast intended for Russian speakers.
The Russian media cited a 2004 article, published in a Russian newspaper, on a 1972 operation commanded by Barak in which a team of Sayeret Matkal commandos took back control of a hijacked Sabena Airlines plane that had landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The article, written by Alexander Minkin, relates that Barak was the first to enter the Boeing 707 and that he killed the terrorist ringleader after finding him locked in the airplane's toilet. According to Minkin, Putin studied the operation as part of his service in the KGB Soviet espionage agency.
Ironically, Barak's rival for the premiership, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, participated in the Sabena rescue operation under Barak's command.
The indirect allusion to Putin's statement is Barak's way of fashioning his image after that of an aggressive leader whom many Russian immigrants would favor. In the coming weeks, he will try to identify with that as closely as possible. Ten years after winning the elections in 1999 with the support of 58 percent of the Russian immigrant population, Barak is now fighting for an additional Knesset seat with the help of the Russian vote.
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