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    ASTANA, January 10, 2004 (RIA Novosti) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently visiting Kazakhstan, was earlier today taken by the host country's leader on a tour of the Presidential Center of Culture in Astana, the new Kazakh capital.

    Messrs. Putin and Nazarbayev traveled around the center's numerous halls and galleries. A guide presented a copy of the sovereign Kazakhstan's first constitution, presidential regalia, the national currency, and state decorations, including the top honor, Altyn Kyran (or Golden Eagle), conferred upon former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, among others.

    As they visited a hall devoted to Kazakhstan's ethnic diversity, the men took time to examine the display's centerpiece-an example of the traditional nomadic tent known as jurt. Putin was then shown gifts offered to the Kazakh President by foreign dignitaries.

    In a museum of gold and precious metals, the two leaders were particularly impressed with an aristocratic warrior's gear, including a 2.5-kilogram gold armor. This artifact had been found in a Kazakh tumulus dating from the 14th-16th centuries.

    After the tour, Putin and Nazarbayev stopped to chat with prominent members of Kazakhstan's artistic and research communities. The Russian President then wrote a comment in the Culture Center's Guestbook.

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