Putin: I didn’t try to recruit Melania, even though I used to love doing this

Bears, tigers and maternity benefits – that was the subject of Vladimir Putin’s short talk with the US First Lady at the G20 summit in Hamburg, he said in a new documentary. And no, he definitely did not try to recruit her.

The two met briefly at a G20 summit dinner last year, and photos of Donald Trump’s wife laughing at Putin’s jokes stirred much speculation in the US media. In an interview published as part of a new documentary, Putin said he entertained Melania Trump and Emanuela Mauro, wife of Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who was sitting on his opposite site, with a description of Russia’s maternity benefits during the dinner.

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“They were very interested in this. They were surprised how large our maternity benefits are,” Putin claimed.

“Did you try to recruit them?” the interviewer, Vladimir Solovyev, asked – apparently inspired by an earlier part of the interview, in which Putin described his experience as a KGB recruiter in Germany.

“No, I have not been doing this for a very long time,” the president, who used to be an intelligence agent in Soviet times, responded with a laugh. “Although I used to love doing this. That was my job for many years.”

Putin added that he also told the two ladies about Russia’s beautiful nature, Kamchatka bears, and Siberian tigers, as well as the joys of fishing.

“As is expected in such cases, I boasted a bit [about the size of my catch],” he said. “How can one speak about fishing and not boast a little?”

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