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Vladimir Putin engages in 'Stalin dog' diplomacy with a special gift for comrade Hugo Chavez


The tough-talking Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has shown his softer side with a gift of a three-month-old puppy to Venezuela's leader Hugo Chavez.

The Russian black terrier was presented to Mr Chavez by Igor Sechin, president of oil giant Rosneft and regarded as the leader of a powerful hardline faction within the Kremlin. He was in Caracas to oversee Rosneft's multi-billion pound investments.

Russia has maintained good relations with the staunchly anti-American Mr Chavez, who has been in power for 14 years and faces presidential elections in a fortnight.

Mr Sechin said that Mr Chavez was absolutely delighted with the Russian gift and would announce the puppy's name some time today.

The breed of terrier, created during the Soviet era, is informally known as a "Stalin dog".

Mr Putin is an old hand at dog diplomacy, having been given a puppy called Buffy by Bulgarian Premier Boiko Borisov two years ago, and an Akita dog by Japan Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba earlier this year.