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Author`s name Ольга Савка

Putin contacts Bush on secret phone channels

Heads of states are supposed to follow a strict procedure, if they need to make an international call and talk to their colleagues

As a rule, Russian people learn about Vladimir Putin's telephone conversations with this or that world leader from a news program. The news is usually presented in a rather simple and crisp way, for example: “During the telephone conversation with the president of … Vladimir Putin discussed the following matters.”

Russian journalists analyzed the list of Putin's telephone talks during 2004-2005 and came to conclusion that the Russian president talked to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder most – 13 times. US President George W. Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili followed with 12 telephone conversations each.

As for this year's data only, one may see that the Russian administration concentrates its attention on Ukraine, first and foremost. Vladimir Putin has had three phone talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko so far. It also became known that Putin's telephone communication with other world leaders lasts for ten minutes, as usual.

Heads of states are supposed to follow a strict procedure, if they need to make an international call and talk to their colleagues. The Russian president, for instance, may not pick up the phone and dial, let's say, Jacques Chirac's number for no particular reason. The leaders' assistants will have to coordinate the time and date of the talks at first: a telephone conversation like this must be mentioned in the daily schedule of a president.

Needless to say that a head of state will not have to spend time sitting in his office and dialing somebody's number. Presidential administrations have special departments, which deal with such issues. Telephone conversations between high-ranking officials, especially presidents, are protected from any possible tapping devices. Furthermore, secret lines of telephone communication are provided to George W. Bush, G8 leaders and other presidents of world's largest countries.

The procedure for calling a regional governor, for example, is a lot simpler: no preliminary preparations are made, as a rule.

The president needs to have means of communication at hand 24/7. Vladimir Putin can be contacted on board his plane or helicopter, in his vehicle and on board sea vessels.

All telephones in the Kremlin are new, of course, although they are made in the Soviet retro style – conventional disk-dial telephones. There are no shortcut buttons or polyphonic ring tones. Putin owns his own cellular phone, which the president uses on very rare occasions: the Russian president has not been noticed answering his cellular phone during official meetings with ministers, presidents, etc.

Putin may call Maria Sharapova to support the Russian tennis star during a tournament; the president uses the phone to talk to his family and friends too.

The list of Vladimir Putin's most important phone calls that have been made over the recent 18 months:
Gerhard Schroeder – 13 times
George W. Bush and Mikhail Saakashvili – 12 times each
Jacques Chirac – 10 times
Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan – 8 times
Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi – 7 times.

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