Dancing diplomacy: Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman wows ASEAN with fiery folk dance

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova dances at the gala evening for the media at the ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi. © Vladimir Pesnya
Dozens of dignitaries at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi have been left open-mouthed and awed, after Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova performed a full-blooded rendition of the traditional Kalinka dance.

Zakharova got the idea 24 hours earlier, when she was passing a rehearsing orchestra in one of the tents.

“I made an off-hand comment to bystanders that I could do a dance myself. So, I had to keep my word,” she said.

Still, few expected her to follow through on the promise, so there was surprise when Zakharova took to a vast empty stage to the accompaniment of a full orchestra to perform a version of the iconic Russian folk dance, with hundreds of journalists in attendance.

When the performance was complete, the audience burst into loud applause.

Zakharova is the Russian ministry’s first-ever female spokesperson, and has become well-known for eschewing diplomatic niceties for plain-spoken rhetoric.