English Side of Putin

Vladimir Putin is trying to get warm and fuzzy with the English-speaking virtual world.

His official web site, www.kremlin.ru, is now available in English, complete with pictures of the president relaxing with his poodle.

"As an integral member of the global community, Russia considers the Internet to be an indispensable tool in the modern times for fast and easy access to information," says a greeting signed by Putin in a section of the site called "A Word to Visitors."

Putin adds that he hopes users would find the web site "useful and interesting as the first-hand source of daily updated news about Russia in general, its government, political and economical priorities."

"I believe that it will also open a direct dialog with the Russian authority."

The new version, which came online Friday, exactly one year after the launch of the Russian-language site, features nearly complete translations of all the information available on the original site, apart from the database of legislation that has been signed into law by Putin.

In addition to news updates and transcripts of presidential speeches, English-speaking visitors can find a wealth of general information about Russian political institutions, as well as the list of presidential residences and a partial inventory of Kremlin cars, planes and ships.

There was even a special link to a live web broadcast of the three-hour news conference Putin gave on Friday.

A special section, called "Letters to the President," tells visitors how they can send letters to Putin either by regular mail or via the Internet -- and who reads them.

"In 2001, the Presidential administration processed about 1 million letters to the president," says a note in the section.

"Obviously, the president himself does not have the time to read the tens of thousands of letters that are sent to him every week, but he is kept informed of any significant information in these letters through regular analytical reports."

For a more personal look, there are pictures of Putin with his family, including the one with his pet poodle.