Bulgarian puppy seals gas deal with Russian PM Putin

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cuddles a Bulgarian sheepdog Mr Putin appeared delighted with the Bulgarian deal

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been presented with a puppy during a trip to Bulgaria to sign a gas deal.

During his visit, the two countries agreed to speed up the construction of a 2,200 mile (3,600km) pipeline to carry Russian gas to Europe.

After the agreement was signed, he was given a Karakachan sheepdog by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Mr Putin already has a labrador named Connie, and he was given a Siberian tiger cub for his birthday in 2008.

The image contrasts with earlier photographs of a more macho prime minister shooting a Siberian tiger, fishing, and riding on horseback.

'Europe-wide importance'

The deal to build the pipeline known as South Stream will enable Russia to bypass Ukraine, by sending gas under the Black Sea.

Mr Putin said the pipeline was of "Europe-wide importance" and he underlined French and Italian involvement in the project.

Bulgaria is also involved in the rival EU-backed Nabucco pipeline which is intended to reduce Europe's reliance on Russia's natural gas.

Opponents of the Russian deal in Bulgaria argue it will allow Moscow to impose its interests on Sofia.

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