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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Vote With Your Heart' Forget About Yeltsin's

Without a doubt, the second-most idiotic slogan of the recent Russian presidential campaign was incumbent Boris Yeltsin's memorable call, Vybirai serdtsem, or "Vote with your heart." As I see it, there are two things terribly wrong with this slogan. First, it strongly implies that if you actually thought about whom to vote for, if you actually voted with your brain, you would choose someone else. Second, it reminds voters of the one thing Yeltsin wanted them to forget, his serdtse or heart.


All sorts of morbid jokes are appearing as Yeltsin's health becomes an ever more alarming topic of conversation. A huge banner is now hanging on Rublyovskoye Shosse near Yeltsin's apartment building which reads: "Boris Nikolayevich, vas vybrali serdtsem, a serdtse ne obmanesh'" (Boris Nikolayevich, we voted for you with our hearts, but you can't fool your heart).


When Russians are particularly worried or grieved over something, they say, u menya serdtse bolit za eto (literally, "my heart is aching over that"). This expression revolves around the verb bolet', whose primary meaning is "to be ill, to be in poor health." The newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets recently ran a huge headline with a bitter pun that declared, Serdtse u Yel'tsina bolit -- no ne za Rossiyu, a prosto tak (Yeltsin's heart is aching -- not for Russia, but just because).


Yeltsin notwithstanding, Russians tend to speak much less about their hearts than Westerners do. The heart enjoys less space in the Russian consciousness because of the huge territory occupied by "the Russian soul." Where an English-speaker might say, for instance, "I love you with all my heart," a Russian would most likely say, "Ya tebya lyublyu vsei dushoi" (I love you with all my soul).


But there are some "heart" expressions worthy of note. One may, for instance, do something s zamiraniyem serdtsa (with a sinking heart) or s tyazhyolym serdtsem (with a heavy heart). One might do something vsem serdtsem (with one's whole heart) or, on the contrary, skrepya serdtse (reluctantly).


One might have a zolotoye serdtse (a golden heart), a dobroye serdtse (a kind heart) or a myakoye serdtse (a soft heart). Or, worst of all, a razbitoye serdtse, a broken heart.


In Yeltsin's case, one Russian "heart" saying does not ring true.


S glaz doloi -- iz serdtsa von is the Russian equivalent of "out of sight, out of mind" (literally, "out of sight, out of the heart").


As for Yeltsin, the longer he remains in hiding, the more his heart will be in the headlines. By the way, you may be wondering which was the stupidest slogan of the presidential campaign. That distinction, in my opinion, goes to Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky for the classic, Vybirai normal'nogo cheloveka (Vote for a normal person). There's a minimalist platform.