Vladimir Putin, speaking in a call-in show at National Public Radio, told U.S. listeners that he likes Russian classical literature very much, yet he reads modern books, too. Asked about his preferences in literature, the Russian president said that, of Russian classical authors, he prefers Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Nikolai Gogol. Speaking about sports, Putin said he engages in his favourite sport, judo, whenever he has spare time. At 14, he took up sambo, a Russian type of wrestling, later was given the title Master of Sport, and at 18 received the equivalent of the black belt, he said. "I have been engaging in this sport all my life," the Russian head of state pointed out. He said judo is not only a sport but also a philosophy which teaches one to respect one's partner and thus helps in one's work. Asked about his work for the KGB, Putin said that experience "helps" him in his work. He pointed out that he "never regretted working in foreign intelligence." "One should not forget that we lived in a different state which does not exist today," the Russian president emphasised. Hinting at former U.S. president George Bush Sr., Putin reminded to the listeners that in other countries, including the United States, there were remarkable statesmen and leaders who had formerly had relation to intelligence.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated