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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Chavez wows Russian media
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
One Russian paper says Mr Chavez has a "messianic quality"

The visit by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Russia is taking the media by storm, with one news agency reporting he has attracted much attention with his "emotional and spontaneous behaviour".

"He calls Christ the first socialist in the world; George Bush an alcoholic; pro-Washington Latin American presidents poodles of imperialism", writes Andrey Yashlavskiy in the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.

The military paper Krasnaya Zvezda headlines its front-page article with a quote from the "charismatic" Mr Chavez: "I am a brother of the Slavs."

Channel 1 TV was impressed by Mr Chavez's arrival at Volgograd airport when he was offered a shot of vodka.

"The Venezuelan president demonstrated good knowledge of local traditions," the TV reports, "he drank the vodka from a Cossack's sabre and without eating anything."

'Messianic quality'

The Trud daily is also fascinated by the "extraordinary and controversial leader".

"Hugo Chavez, an indigenous Indian with some African blood in his veins, whose speech is peppered with proverbs and vulgar slang, has a messianic quality, not uncommon in politicians with spice in their blood."

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid notes that Mr Chavez "took notice of Volgograd girls" and quotes him as saying: "I have always liked Venezuelan women, but looking at yours, I can see that I have lost a lot."

The paper adds that as he was saying this Mr Chavez put "the heavy hand of a Venezuelan peasant" on the girl's shoulder.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta prints what some Volgograd residents had to say about the Venezuelan leader.

They call Mr Chavez "a unique phenomenon", "a sensible but eccentric guy" - although very few seem to know much about Venezuela as some suggest it is either "a place in Italy" or "in Africa", or "a shop in central Volgograd".

Serious side

The Kommersant daily prefers to concentrate on the political dimension to the visit, during which Mr Chavez is expected to sign arms deals.

"Venezuela gets armed with Russia" write Mikhail Zygar and Tatyana Dmitriyeva.

"Moscow expects bumper arms contracts from the visit," they say, while Venezuela's eyes are on "setting up an anti-American oil bloc".

"Thus Moscow, which has just hosted the G8 summit, shows once again that, when the chance comes, it may respond to criticism from the West by making a sharp U-turn towards the West's foes."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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