This year, Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush feel too busy to have regular vacations
August is the summer month which world leaders traditionally prefer for vacations. As a rule, it is a dead period in the world politics with the exception of this year when the political life is still too active because of the London blasts, the terrorist threats in the world, more violence in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, pre-election campaigns in Germany, Afghanistan, Egypt and Japan, and also because of natural and man-caused disasters. That is why, statesmen have to go on vacations and at the same time have business meetings and political activities. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin and American President George W. Bush are having vacations that are truly called “business vacations” when they are to have several official talks and visits.
When Russia President Vladimir Putin goes to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for a vacation, his trip is officially called “a business trip to Russia's Southern Federal district”. In other words, Vladimir Putin has actually few moments to enjoy his vacation in privacy.
The Russian president has meetings and talks with governmental officials, members of the Presidential Administrations and heads of the Russian districts. It is not officially reported what Vladimir Putin does when official meetings are over. A source close to the president told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper that Vladimir Putin spends a lot of time swimming, going to the gym and walking his dog. It is known that the Russian president also watches foreign TV programs. His wife Lyudmila is spending the vacation together with Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin is far from being fastidious in meals; he eats a lot of fish, vegetables and fruit. He seldom drinks alcohol: Vladimir Putin was seen drinking vodka just twice within the past two years and that was because of tragic reasons.
It is expected that Vladimir Putin will receive Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while spending the vacation in Sochi. August 21, Vladimir Putin met the widow of Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov and his son, now the Chechen Vice Premier Ramzan Kadyrov. They spoke about the initiatives of Akhmad Kadyrov being put into practice in the republic, about new achievements as concerning security in Chechnya and about activity of the Chechen Government.
The same day, Vladimir Putin met with the Chechnya Government together with Chechen President Alu Alkhanov and Prime-Minister Sergey Abramov. At the meeting, it was decided that parliamentary election will be held in Chechnya on November 27.
The CIS Summit is to take place soon in the city of Kazan, the republic of Tatarstan. Even though Moscow is taking much effort to revive the CIS, many of the former Soviet republics treat CIS summits rather like formality. A high-ranking official in the Ukrainian Government told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta that Kiev is more inclined to have two-side talks than attend CIS summits. He added that the CIS is ineffective in solution of important problems. “Only an effective organization is actually attractive for its members,” he said.
No matter how we call Putin's staying in Sochi, it is the period when the President of Russia is to accumulate enough strength before the numerous long foreign trips scheduled for the last months of the year. In September, Vladimir Putin is going to New York to celebrate the UN jubilee. In October, he will be present at the Russia-EU summit in London; in November, the Russian president will visit South Korea. It is not ruled out that this year Vladimir Putin will also visit some European countries, Belgium and Holland in particular.
This autumn, the Russian president is highly likely to have another online communication with the Russian population.
Mass media as a rule closely watch the American president even during his vacation. This year, George W. Bush is traditionally spending his vacation on his Texas 1,600 acre ranch with a one-storey building of 1,000 m2 in square. The American president loves the place where the ranch stands and usually spends all of his vacations and majority of holidays there. Now, it is his 50th visit to the ranch since his election to the presidential post.
The American president loves the nature in Texas and enjoys it while riding a mountain bike, fishing and jogging. George W. Bush declared his vacation will last 33 days, but his assistants state this is a business vacation when the American president will have talks with the Cabinet members, have the traditional weekly addresses to the American population, have trips to seven states and have at least ten business meetings.
A vacation of 33 days is a record period for Americans presidents who usually spend not more than a month on a vacation. Opinion polls that American sociologists have had among the US population reveal that 55 per cent of Americans do not like the president having such a long vacation. As a rule, average Americans have only two-week holidays.
The vacation of George W. Bush began August 2; his wife Laura Bush came to the ranch earlier. The first two weeks of the vacation were too busy when the president had talks with his economics and foreign policy experts; met with Colombian President Uribe and participated in political activities in New Mexico and Illinois. George W. Bush truly enjoyed his vacation during the third week when he fished and traveled about the ranch.
The American president had his traditional clinical examination at the Central Naval hospital as he usually does before going for a vacation; doctors stated his health was perfect. The American president even lost some of his excessive weight thanks to regular exercises six days a week, much jogging and riding a bicycle.
Before the vacation, George W. Bush got three great in volume books that he is going to read during the 33 days of staying on the ranch. These are rather intellectual books: Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History; John Barry's The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague and Alexander II, the Last Great Tsar by Russia's Edward Radzinsky.
The books tell the pre-history of the present-day problems in the world. For example, Russian author Edward Radzinsky says his book tells of the early days of terrorism in Russia and the tragedy of the tsar who died because of terrorists. This year, the American president read a book about Peter the Great and earlier he also read some books by the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
During the forth week of the vacation, the American president will go to the western coast to have a counter-offensive as concerning the Iraqi war. This is going to be a response to the attacks of pacifists at the presidential ranch this August. This year, journalists have not a moment of boredom typical of Crawford because of the Casey Camp set up by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq a year ago. The woman is desperately seeking a personal meeting with the American president to make him explain the reasons of the Iraqi war. It is highly likely the Casey Camp will remain on the side of the road going to the presidential ranch till the end of the president's vacation.