Russian president sets tongues wagging after giving his coat to China first lady

Russian president sets tongues wagging after giving his coat to China first lady

Russian president Vladimir Putin's act of chivalry towards China's first lady has set tongues wagging, reported Foreign Policy and various media outlets on Tuesday.

Mr Putin was captured on cameras, lending his coat to China's first lady Peng Liyuan during the opening banquet of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.  The pair were seated next to each other at the dinner, along with Chinese premier Xi Jinping and US president Barack Obama.

In the footage, Putin was seen reaching out from under his table for what looks like a tan coat or blanket, before standing and draping it on Peng's shoulders.

Peng graciously stands and accepts the kind gesture, but shrugs it off seconds after sitting down, putting on her own black coat instead.

A CCTV commentator noticed the exchange and described the scene: "While waiting, the top leaders are gathered and chatting together animatedly. We just saw Mr Putin place his coat around Peng Liyuan's shoulders."

According to Foreign Policy, major news outlets in China quicky posted the video, and a hashtag "Putin gives Peng Liyuan His Coat" was even started on China's microblogging site, Weibo.

However, within hours, the videos were allegedly removed by censors from news and social media cites, the site reported.

The incident has been dubbed 'Coatgate' by western media, with commentators suggesting that Chinese authorites may have seen the action by Mr Putin as a tad too forward for their liking, 3News reported.

Mr Putin finalised his divorce from his wife of 30 years Lyudmila Putina earlier this year. He has denied having an affair with 30-year-old Olympic rhythmic gymnast and Russian MP Alina Kabaeva, according to The Straits Times.

candicec@sph.com.sg

 

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