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Putin gets books as New Year presents most often.
January 2, 2003

What people give their national leaders as new year presents? Most Russians seem to stick to the Soviet literature classic Maxim Gorky's maxim (to coin a phrase) they had learned back in school: "A book is the best present of all. "

Anyway, in the incessant flow of gifts addressed to the Russian head of state that invariably grows immeasurably during the New Year Holidays printed matter constitutes the most significant share.

Practically every piece is stored at the presidential library in the Kremlin and properly registered. A deputy chief of the presidential library operations department, Nataliya Gavrilenko has told Tass the library in the Kremlin keeps in store over 1,500 books given to President Putin as a gift, mostly works on history, law and economics and fiction.

On the whole, the themes of gift books range widely. Military Interpreter's Notes, Russian Folk Tales, How to Rear a Wonderchild, The Institution of Elections in Russia - these are just some of the titles on a daily list of recent contributions.

As a rule, books to the president are sent by their authors, with an autograph on the title sheet.

"Most messages contain some very sincere, kind words and wishes of health, happiness and success," Gavrilenko said.

The president also receives many household articles - kitchenware, clothes and sports gear - from those who know that Putin is a dedicated athlete. All such articles are kept in a special room close to the presidential library.

Works of art constitute a special class of presidential presents. Both Russians and foreigners, ordinary citizens and state leaders, often present the Russian president with paintings, statuettes and caskets. Some of these gifts can be seen on the shelves of the presidential library , too.

The gift-givers' imagination is inexhaustible. However, presents from children are moist touching. A prominent place in the presidential library is held by a CD with a recording of the Russian national anthem as sung by a choir of school students in Novosibirsk.

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