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Putin sets up web site for Russian Youth
Russian President Vladimir Putin, already hugely popular, has launched a charm offensive on the younger generation with his own Web site for schoolchildren. Three virtual kids, whose names have echoes of Russian fairy tale heroes, take visitors of the site www.uznai-prezidenta.ru on a Kremlin tour, give them a lesson in democracy and basic facts about the state, and lead them to a photo gallery of Putin, his family and pets. A former KGB spy, Putin has usually distanced himself from shows of admiration, such as a pop song praising his virtues, a school book about his childhood published in his home city of St Petersburg and a cafe named after him. But late last year, Putin, 51, whose portraits hang in Russian offices and school rooms, said he did not mind his image being used as a state symbol. Putin, Russia's most popular politician with around 70 percent support ensuring him an easy re-election in March, is not planning to stage an election campaign, his aides have said. He said in televised remarks on Monday the Web site was not meant to publicise him personally. "Frankly speaking, I do not think that anything connected with my personality dominates the site," Putin said. "After all, it is the information about our state, the rights and duties of its citizens that are paramount." Texts for the site have been provided by a popular children's author Grigory Oster, renowned for his mischievous book for children called "Bad Advice". Itar-Tass news agency quoted the site's creators as saying they did their best to avoid controversial interpretations of history in an interactive game, which allows children to offer their own follow-up to historical events. Putin's site was launched at a time when Russian education authorities are reviewing school history textbooks. Some authors complain that even the slightest criticism of Putin's rule is being erased.
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