Old Hanoians hail 'world leader' Putin ahead of expected visit

1 month ago 80

Updated

Jun 17, 2024, 03:17 PM

Published

Jun 17, 2024, 03:17 PM

HANOI - Nguyen Thi Hong Van's Russian souvenir shop may be a bit of an oddity in the Vietnamese capital but her gifts sell very well, she says, reflecting the enthusiasm old Hanoians have for an expected visit by President Vladimir Putin.

"Vietnamese people love Russian products very much," she told Reuters, surrounded by Matryoshka dolls and caps featuring embroidered CCCP, the Cyrillic abbreviation for the Soviet Union (USSR).

Putin is expected to visit Communist-ruled Vietnam on Wednesday and Thursday, multiple officials said, just over a month after he was sworn in for his fifth presidential term.

"I was very happy when I learned that Mr. Putin is coming to Vietnam because he is very talented, truly a world leader. I admire him very much," said Tran Xuan Cuong, a 57-year-old Hanoi resident, speaking in front of a statue of Lenin in the centre of the Vietnamese capital.

Russia and Vietnam have shared for decades the same Communist ideology and maintain very close relations, with Moscow being the top supplier of weapons to Hanoi. Russian firms also extract oil and gas in Vietnamese fields in the South China Sea that are claimed by China.

Tens of thousands of Vietnamese cadres went to study in the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, including top business leaders and the current head of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong, a Marxist-Leninist ideologist.

The Vietnamese capital is dotted with Soviet-style buildings, including the museum of modern Vietnam's founding father Ho Chi Minh, and an imposing Vietnam-Soviet friendship palace, built in the late 70s on the site where a bombed French exposition hall stood.

"The Russian spirit is a wonderful thing. It can be gentle and has a lot of affection and love for peace," said Tran Xuan Viet, 83.

"I will always have respect and compassion for Putin...

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