Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, looks at a snow leopard cub while visiting the snow leopard sanctuary in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
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Vladimir Putin, rugged outdoorsman and tough-guy Russian president, promoted a cuddly image Tuesday as his Olympics drew near.Putin checked in at a preserve for endangered Persian leopards and visited a group of cubs born last summer in the mountains above the growing torrent of activity in Sochi for the Winter Games.Putin entered the cage and petted the leopard on the head.The leopard preserve was established five years ago as an Olympics-related project.While Putin stepped in in Syria to convince leader Bashar Assad to turn over his chemical weapons, thus saving Obama from having to initiate airstrikes, the White House remains angry that Russia have given asylum to Edward Snowden, the contract worker who has leaked volumes of secrets about U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts.
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