Europe

Russia's Putin rejects Kraft Super Bowl ring claim

File photo of President Vladimir Putin with diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring Image copyright AP
Image caption The ring had belonged to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft

Vladimir Putin's spokesman has denied a report that the Russian president mistakenly pocketed a Super Bowl ring during a 2005 visit by a US tycoon.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was quoted as saying he had shown Mr Putin the 4.94-carat, diamond-encrusted ring while in St Petersburg.

"I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket," Mr Kraft told an awards gala, according to the New York Post.

But the Kremlin spokesman insisted the ring had been a gift.

The ring was one of around 70 given to the Patriots team after they won Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005, five months before Mr Kraft's trip to Russia. It is said to be worth $25,000 (£16.000; 18,700 euros).

'Psychoanalysts'

The Post reported last week that Mr Kraft had told a ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York how he had wanted the ring back but had been advised by the White House to treat it as a gift.

"I took out the ring and showed it to [President Putin], and he put it on and he goes: 'I can kill someone with this ring'," the Patriots owner was quoted as saying.

Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he had himself seen Mr Kraft present the ring to the president and suggested that any suggestion that he was put under pressure should be an issue for "detailed discussion with psychoanalysts".

"If the gentleman is really experiencing such excruciating pain from his loss... the president is ready to send him any other ring he can buy for that kind of money," he told reporters in London, where Mr Putin was having talks with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

A Kraft Group spokesperson played down the story on Sunday, telling the Associated Press that Mr Kraft was very happy his ring was at the Kremlin and that it was a "humorous, anecdotal story that Robert retells for laughs".

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