Putin chided on environment by Russian schoolboy
Russia's strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday found himself targeted by unusual criticism on environmental protection -- by a young schoolboy.
The encounter took place as Putin toured the Losiny Ostrov national park outside Moscow on a trip that also saw the animal-loving Russian number one feed wild elk with baby-bottles.
Russia is repeatedly critcised by environmentalists for lax ecological protection measures which endanger the fantastic natural riches across the vast country.
"I think that the government should look more strictly at all violations of the law on ecology," piped the boy, who was not named, staring straight into the dark sunglasses of the prime minister.
"It should implement a higher fine if someone litters the street," he added in comments shown on state television.
Taking off his shades and looking the boy in the eye, Putin said: "I agree completely. Russia's nature is a gift from God, without any exaggeration a wonder which we enjoy every day and deserves our protection."
He told the boy to send his proposals to the government. "We will look at them at least at the level of the ministry of natural resources and maybe higher," said Putin.
It was not clear if the encounter had been choreographed in advance or was genuinely accidental.
Last weekend, Putin sparred on human rights with one of Russia's best known rock singers Yury Shevchuk at a televised meeting some observers believed was concocted to boost the prime minister's image.
Wildlife has played a major role in creating Putin's political image and the past months have seen him having close encounters with animals ranging from a tiger, a whale and a polar bear.
© 2010 AFP