Putin has eyes 'of a killer' when talking Chechnya: Patten
The European Union's former external affairs commissioner Chris Patten once said that Vladimir Putin had the eyes "of a killer" when talking about Chechnya, a confidential US cable showed Friday.
Released by WikiLeaks, the 2004 dispatch from the US embassy in Brussels described a conversation Patten had with US officials a week after holding talks with then-president Putin in Moscow.
Patten's visit to Moscow came in the closing stages of Russia's second war in the predominantly Muslim republic, a campaign that Putin spearheaded and described as an "anti-terrorist operation".
"He seems a completely reasonable man when discussing the Middle East or energy policy, but when the conversation shifts to Chechnya or Islamic extremism, Putin's eyes turn to those of a killer," the cable quoted Patten as telling a top embassy official.
Patten cautioned, "I'm not saying that genes are determinant," but noted that "Putin's grandfather was part of Lenin's special protection team, father a Communist party apparatchik, and Putin himself decided at a young age to join the KGB," the dispatch to Washington said.
Putin joined the KGB as a foreign intelligence agent, serving briefly in Dresden, which was then part of Communist East Germany.
Russia's offensive in Chechnya has been repeatedly criticised for human rights violations while Putin has used colourful language to describe the Chechen insurgents, at one stage vowing to "waste them in the outhouse".
The republic is now controlled by an authoritarian pro-Moscow leader who has been cited for abuses by European organisations and human rights groups.
© 2010 AFP