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    Putin says surprised by reaction to boy kissing episode

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    MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin admitted Wednesday he had been surprised by the huge public interest generated by his kissing a boy on the stomach in the Kremlin late June.

    Television footage of Putin talking to a boy and then pulling up his T-shirt and kissing his belly on June 28 caused excited discussions on the Internet.

    "I was surprised by the reaction it caused," he said in an interview with the U.S. television channel NBC.

    "I can only repeat what I said earlier. I simply liked that boy very much. He was very independent and charming, with an air of self-respect, and at the same time was a completely vulnerable child, like all children who, I think, need special care and warmth," Putin said.

    "It was simply a spur-of-the-moment act, driven by emotions - nothing more than that," Putin said.

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