Koni in August 2001
|Other appellation(s)||Connie Paulgrave|
|Species||Canis lupus familiaris|
|Born||1999 (Age 14)|
|Known for||Pet of Vladimir Putin|
|Parents||Henrietta Bush (mother)
Alkor Ros Bradford (father)
Koni (Russian: Ко́ни, born 1999), full name Connie Paulgrave (Russian: Ко́нни По́лгрейв), also known as Connie, is a female black Labrador Retriever owned by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Given to Putin as a gift in 2000 by General of the Army Sergey Shoygu, the dog is often seen at Putin's side, including at staff meetings, and when Putin greets world leaders upon their visits to Russia.
Koni, full name Connie Paulgrave, was born in 1999 at a cynology centre of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Noginsk, where she was to be trained as a search and rescue dog. Koni's parents are Henrietta Bush (mother) and Alkor Ross Bradford (father). Alkor Ross Bradford had hereditary lines to a Labrador once owned by Leonid Brezhnev, the one-time General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There are rumours, although they are unconfirmed, that Koni was named after Condoleezza Rice. In December 2000, Koni was presented to Vladimir Putin as a gift from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Sergey Shoigu.
On the morning of 7 December 2003, the day of the Russian legislative election, Koni gave birth to eight pups. One of the pups, named Darina, was given to a pensioner in Novozolotovka, Neklinovksy District of Rostov Oblast. Another pup, named Oscar, was given to a six-year old girl in Smolensk. Two pups were given to then-President of Austria Thomas Klestil as a symbol of Austrian-Russian friendship. The two pups are now with the late Klestil's wife and widow, Margot Klestil-Löffler, who as the Austrian ambassador to the Czech Republic had the dogs living with her in Prague. In December 2009, she was appointed Austrian ambassador to the Russian Federation, so they all returned to Moscow. Klestil-Löffler says that the two dogs, named Olya and Orhi, have helped her deal with her husband's death. Another of Koni's pups is employed by rescue services in Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia–Alania.
Relationship with Vladimir Putin
Since the dog became part of the Putin family, it has featured largely in the life of the President, and is regularly at her master's side. In 2007 organisers of the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, a regional meeting of the World Economic Forum, wrote to the Presidential Administration requesting a photo of the then President for his accreditation badge; the Administration sent back to the organisers a photo of Putin sitting in an armchair next to a fireplace with Koni lying at his feet.
Answering a question at a press conference, Putin stated that like everyone he has bad moods, and explained:
Koni responds to simple commands given to her by Putin, including "down!" (Russian: Лежать!, Ležat! ), "sit!" (Сидеть!, Sidet'! ), "heel!" (Рядом!, Rjadom!), "go!" (Фас!, Fas!) and "bark!" (Голос!, Golos), in addition to shaking hands.
Although Koni is for the most part allowed to attend meetings with Putin, on occasion she was kept away from such functions. Rossiyskaya Gazeta recalled an incident in 2003, where journalists travelled to Sochi to discuss various issues with the President. Upon arrival at Bocharov Ruchei, Koni, who is described as cheerful and inquisitive, greeted the journalists. When it came time to start the meeting, Putin's security detail stopped Koni from following him. As the journalists and Putin started walking down the staircase, Koni rushed towards them and began to bark loudly at Putin. Irena Lesnevsky, the president of REN TV, asked "So who else here can so bark at the President?" Koni, in what appeared to be an expression of dissatisfaction in not being allowed to "participate" in the meeting, continued barking and refused several orders by Putin to come to him, leading Lesnevsky to ask "So who else can disobey the President?"
In the public eye
In December 2004, the dog was taken to a children's New Year party at the State Kremlin Palace by Putin. While Putin was on stage giving a speech to the media, politicians and the public, the dog escaped from its holdings and joined its owner on stage.
It gained fame when Detskaya Literatura, one of the oldest publishing houses of Soviet times and the largest publisher of children's books, published in 2004 a book entitled Connie's Stories. The 60-page book written by Irina Borisova in English chronicles the life and adventures of a black Labrador named "Connie", which at the end it is revealed that Connie is the ex-President's dog. Koni gained additional public exposure when she was present at an April meeting with Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi. Koni's visibility in meetings of Putin with world leaders led to the publication by Ogoniok of a satirical series of comic strips which features Koni as an advisor to Putin on matters relating to the foreign relations of Russia.
In July 2006, in an online conference organised by Yandex and the BBC, Putin revealed that Koni eats two to three times a day, and has a penchant for porridge with meat. During the same online Q&A session, Putin reiterated a request that he had previously made on his website for people not to feed Koni, stating:
In December 2007, Sergey Ivanov updated Putin on progress on the Russian global navigation satellite system GLONASS, when Putin enquired whether he would be able to buy a device hooked into GLONASS which would allow him to keep an eye on Koni. Ivanov advised Putin that collars for pets would be available in mid-2008. The collar was demonstrated to Putin on Koni on 17 October 2008, making Koni the first recipient of a GLONASS-enabled pet collar.
In February 2005, the We youth movement, a member of The Other Russia, started a campaign to promote Koni for President. It was the opinion of the group that no matter who won the 2008 Russian presidential election the operating head of state would remain the same, and hence Koni would make the best candidate. Georgy Satarov, a key member of The Other Russia believes that if Putin were to have endorsed Koni as his successor, then 40% of the electorate would vote for the Labrador, given that 40% of the people would vote for whomever Putin endorses for the election.
Russian foreign affairs
A popular anecdote is of when the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel met Vladimir Putin, Putin brought Koni to their meetings. On 21 January 2007, the two leaders met at Bocharov Ruchei, the President's summer residence in Sochi and at the beginning of their meeting Koni wandered into the room, leading Putin to ask Merkel, who was afraid of dogs, "The dog does not bother you, does it? It's a friendly dog and I'm sure it will behave itself." Merkel responded in Russian, a language in which she is fluent, "It doesn't eat journalists, after all." Koni then proceeded to sniff the German Chancellor, and sat at her feet. Merkel was reported to have shown "apparent discomfort".
When US President George W. Bush visited Putin's residence at Novo-Ogaryovo, Koni was there to greet both leaders. Putin was reported to have remarked to the visiting President that Koni is "[b]igger, tougher, stronger, faster, meaner — than Barney", which aides to Bush said was "a mark of a friendship strengthened by a little needling." At a meeting with Putin in Sochi in March 2003, and again in April 2005, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who regards Koni as a friend, attempted to call Koni to him, but Koni did not respond, except for yawning at the Belarussian President on several occasions, before getting up and going over to the journalists who had gathered to cover the meeting.
- "Putin's lab bitch prominent negotiator". RIA Novosti. 9 April 2005. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
- "Семейная тайна Кони, лабрадорши Путина". Express Gazeta (in Russian). 16 August 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Владимир Путин: Лежать! Фас! Голос!". Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). 25 July 2001. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Putin plans to buy satellite navigation system for his dog". RIA Novosti. 24 December 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
- O'Flynn, Kevin (19 July 2005). "A Book About Putin Through His Dog's Eyes". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
- Alexeev, Mikhail (4 October 2005). "An Answer for Everything". Kommersant. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
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- "Vladimir Putin To Press "Don't Feed My Dog"". K9 Magazine. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
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- "Ответы на вопросы, поступившие к интернет-конференции Президента России 6 июля 2006 года" (in Russian). President of Russia. 12 July 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2008. English translation
- Shchedrov, Oleg (24 December 2007). "Can Russian GPS system track my dog? Putin asks". Reuters. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
- "Стенографический отчёт о совещании с членами Правительства" (in Russian). President of Russia. 24 December 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.English translation
- "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on expanding the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS)". Prime Minister of Russia. 17 October 2008. Retrieved 24 December 2008.[dead link]
- "Путинского лабрадора Кони объявили кандидатом в президенты РФ" (in Russian). Novy Region. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
- "Перемен, мы ждем перемен?" (in Russian). Finam. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
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- "Putin and the animals". Pravda Online. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- "Начало встречи с Федеральным канцлером ФРГ Ангелой Меркель" (in Russian). President of Russia. 21 January 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2008. English translation
- "Germany and Russia Try to Smooth Over Energy Tensions". Der Spiegel. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
- Shanker, Thom; Rutenberg, Jim (14 July 2006). "Bush Begins Advanced Course on the Ways of Putin". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- Kolesnikov, Andrey (5 April 2005). "Vladimir Putin Agrees on Everything with Aleksandr Lukashenko". Kommersant. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
- Bazylyuk, Marina (23 November 2003). "Шапка Мономаха и Конни Полгрейв". Novye Izvestia (in Russian). Retrieved 24 December 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Koni.|
- (Russian) Putin's Dog (Собака Путина) comic strip by Ogoniok
- Irina Borisova (2004). Connie's Stories. Moscow: Detskaya Literatura. ISBN 978-5-08-004113-6