Belarus leader gives Putin a tractor voucher on 70th birthday

Putin, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin got an unusual gift for his 70th birthday on Friday – a voucher for a tractor from the president of Belarus.

As the leaders of several ex-Soviet nations met at the Tsarist-era Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg, Alexander Lukashenko presented the Russian president with a certificate for the vehicle.

Tractors have been the pride of Belarusian industry since Soviet times.

Mr Lukashenko, an autocratic leader who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation with an iron hand for nearly three decades while cultivating a man-of-the-people image, told reporters he has a model in his garden which is similar to the tractor that he gave Mr Putin.

It was not clear how the Russian leader responded to the gift, which Mr Lukashenko’s office revealed.

Mr Putin did not mention the gift in televised remarks at the start of the meeting when he talked about the need to discuss ways of settling conflicts between ex-Soviet nations.

He also emphasised the need to exchange information to fight terrorism, illegal drugs and other crime.

The leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of ex-Soviet nations, have another gathering to attend next week in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana.

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