Puppy Diplomacy: Venezuela’s Chavez Receives a New Pet from Vladimir Putin

As energy agreements are signed, Russia gives Venezuela a special gift: Stalin's puppy.

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Jorge Silva / Reuters

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (L) speaks to Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin of Russia after a visit at Miraflores Palace in Caracas on September 27, 2012.

Who can resist a puppy? Especially one given to you by Russian President Vladimir Putin?

On Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his excitement over the 3-month-old black terrier puppy he had received as a gift from his Russian counterpart. “He is a good dog and beautiful,” Chavez told a Russian delegation in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, according to the Associated Press. “I’m going to call him ‘Russian’.”

This particular breed is also known as “Stalin’s dog”, because it has been created under the Soviet dictator in the 1950s to guard prisoners, reported the Spanish-language news site La Tercera. The puppy was presented as the two countries signed trade agreements worth about $20 billion, including a pact to allow the tapping of new Venezuelan oilfields by the state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft.

Putin has also been a target of puppy diplomacy. In 2010, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov gave him a Bulgarian shepherd called Baffi. In June, he received a 3-month old Akita Inu puppy from a Japanese governor. He promised to return the favor by sending back “a Siberian cat, a bigger one,” according to the state-owned news agency Ria Novosti.

Chavez joked he would return the favor by sending Putin a Capybara — a rodent the BBC describes as an “oversized, pig-like animal.”

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