Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson


MOSCOW, JUNE 5 (RIA Novosti's Yelena Glushakova) - President Vladimir Putin is in the best of health, and makes it a point to choose his neckties without help, he said to an eager student gathering. He was receiving winners of a higher school essay contest under the motto, "My home, my town, my country" in an event which took more than an hour to debate political priorities and private matters alike.

"Can you choose your own neckties, or is it up to image-makers and Mrs. Putin?" he was asked, and replied: "I have never employed professional image-makers, and shall never do. As for my wife, she occasionally offers a piece of advice." "What are you anxious to do but cannot?" was a tongue-in-cheek query. "I cannot trespass the constitutional limits," said the President. As the audience was pressing him to confess whether he would like to do so, he honestly acknowledged: "It's very tempting, sometimes." The boys and girls asked Mr. Putin whether it was his childhood dream to be federal President, and what was the occupation he wanted those days.

To that, he said a high post was the last thing he wanted not only when a small boy but even when employed in Moscow. "After I spent 18 months here, I determined to quit civil service for a quiet private office." As for his childhood dreams, he wanted to be a spy or an air pilot.

The audience pestered the President with questions about his health. He broke into laughter, at last, and asked straightforward: "Do you mean any particular complaint?" He said he was a sound sleeper, and had dreams very rarely. "It's OK with me," he summed up the matter, and added that he was going in for sports to keep fit.

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