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Chris Patten, a former member of the European Commission, reflects on the Russian leader over a dinner of "rubbery fish."
FROM: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: APRIL 28, 2004
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¶8. (C) Patten said Putin has done a good job for Russia mainly due to high world energy prices, but he had serious doubts about the man's character. Cautioning that "I'm not saying that genes are determinant," Patten then reviewed Putin family history: grandfather part of Lenin's special protection team, father a communist party apparatchik, and Putin himself decided at a young age to pursue a career in the KGB. "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."
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