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Putin's dog gets satnav tracker collar

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Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has equipped his dog with a satnav tracker collar, according to reports. The device is linked to the Russian national nav-sat constellation, GLONASS, rather than the more commonly used American-run GPS.

Deputy first prime minister Sergei Ivanov, who was tasked with obtaining the canine security device, said that it was unique - the "only one of its type in the world".

Reporting to his boss at a meeting on GLONASS, Ivanov apparently apologised for being late with the the promised neckwear for Connie, Putin's black Labrador.

"I am a touch late, as I promised to give Connie the collar this summer," said Ivanov, no doubt sweating slightly.

"The collar is ready ... we are ready to demonstrate it, fit it, and test it," he went on.

After the collar was fitted, things initially went well.

"She's wagging her tail, that means she likes it," said Putin, according to RIA Novosti.

But then Ivanov got himself into trouble again. He said that the collar was programmed to shut down when it was stationary in order to save on battery power - as, for instance, when Connie was "in the forest, lying in a puddle".

Putin responded testily "my dog is not a piglet, she doesn't lie in puddles". People probably started to quietly put some space between themselves and Ivanov after that.

In its heyday, GLONASS satnav could claim to rival the American GPS system for coverage and service. It has seen hard times since the end of the Cold War, however, and today despite intensive refurbishment in the new era of oil and gas revenues it doesn't completely cover Russia - let alone the whole world.

"Before the end of the year ... it will be possible to say with confidence that the entire territory of the Russian Federation will be reliably, fully, and around-the-clock covered by the Glonass signal from space," Ivanov reported.

GLONASS is of course useful for keeping track of former president (now prime minister) Putin's dog without the consent of the US government, but Moscow is probably more interested in military operations and the guidance systems of missiles.

The RIA Novosti report is here. ®

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