закру́чивать га́йки

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by uncomfortablepanda, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. uncomfortablepanda New Member

    I've been reading a few political new articles and the phrase "закру́чивать га́йки" seems to come up quite often. I understand that this means "to put the screws on" but I'm not quite sure on it's meaning it the context I've found it in below:

    Ранее некоторые эксперты высказывались в том духе, что Владимир Путин демонстративно взял курс на закручивание гаек.

    Is there any better way of capturing the meaning of this in English? Does it mean tightening policies or something along that line?

    Thank you for your help.
  2. Garbuz Senior Member

    Tightening policies. Right.
  3. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    It would be good if you'd said in which context the phrase is being used. If it's about the Pussy Riot story reported on the BBC Russian Service here, then your version "tightening the screws" is excellent. This USAtoday story also uses the phrase in this context: "Putin is tightening the screws to try and frighten people off from going on demonstrations," said Tatiana Romanova, 24, who is a regular at the anti-government street protests that have rocked Moscow since last winter. "It's hard to say who will be arrested next. It's frightening."

    Another possibility might be something like "cracking down harder on ...", which is harder to render as a noun phrase, but I wouldn't look for an alternative when you've already got the neatest version which corresponds exactly to the Russian.
  4. Maroseika Moderator

    This idiom is based on the notion of the steam engine boiler: if the nuts (screws) are not tightened enough, steam (people's unrest) may erupt.
  5. igusarov

    igusarov Senior Member

    Moscow, Russia
    I think that "закручивать гайки" can mean various things here, not only people's unrest.

    "pursue the law" - if the context implied that some law was taken lightly, but now he is set on enforcing it.
    "reduce tolerance toward protests (and other deviant behaviour)" - in the context of people-government relations.
    "reduce the wiggle room" - in the context of some work process, e.g. if talking about strict control over his ministers.
    "take away some freedom" - in the context of society and people's rights.

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