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13 Aug, 2007 15:43

Russia-Monaco cement future relations

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Russia's President Vladimir Putin are visiting the Russian republic of Tyva in Siberia, after meeting in St. Petersburg where they discussed future relations between the two countries.

During the flight the leaders have communicated with the help of an interpreter. Among other things, President Putin told Prince Albert about local horses.

“They're huge like tanks and fluffy like bears!” he said.

After they landed, the leaders visited one of the region's traditional dwellings – a yurt (a kind of tent used by Mongolian nomads). There was no need for a middle-man anymore as Vladimir Putin and Prince Albert swapped from French to English, and understood each other just as well as in German.

Mr Putin and Prince Albert were taken to the old fortress of Por-Bazhyn, founded in the eighth century. In 1995 it was included into a national heritage list and is protected by the state.

As it turned out, not everyone would be able to find room in the boats to go to the fortress, and the Russian President offered his own solution.

“They'll walk – it's only half a metre deep! They're strong people. It's not a resort here, it can't be warm!” Mr Putin said.

Vladimir Putin and the Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu inspected a local banya, tasted some local tea and agreed to show their royal guest some real Russia.

“We should take him to the banya after this trip! Then he'll build a Russian banya in Monaco!” assumed President Putin.
After that Vladimir Putin and Albert II took to the boat to visit the archaeological site where they surprised a group of students and their teachers from several Russian universities, working there.

Before the leaders got back on the boat, one of the helicopters used by the leaders took a local ten-month-old girl to the hospital. The baby needed urgent treatment and was flown to the republic's capital.

If the frequent laughter and flowing conversation were anything to go by, the leaders enjoyed the trip to the full.