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Russian kitten for ex-President Halonen

The Russian Embassy in Helsinki presented former President Tarja Halonen with a five month-old kitten yesterday. A Siberian cat, the feisty feline has been dubbed “Meggi”. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev had promised Halonen a new pet during an official visit last autumn to replace two former pets that passed away.

Russian Ambassador to Helsinki Alexander Rumyantsev hands Meggi over to her new family.

Former President Tarja Halonen and her husband, Dr. Pentti Arajärvi, took custody of their new pet from Russian Ambassador Alexander Rumyantsev on Thursday. Halonen said she was excited at the prospect of a new family member. Somewhat overwhelmed by the throng of journalists and photographers, Meggi bared her teeth and claws during the handing over ceremony.

“We’ll stay at home with the cat for most of the week. Of course we have to work. Just like this cat, everyone in our family is rather strong willed, so it’s going to be interesting,” Halonen joked.

“The cat will soften Pentti”

Meggi is a masked Siberian cat, a breed that grows to a rather large size in adulthood.  “When I saw the cat I said, ‘How tiny you are’. But these cats continue to grow even after one year of age,” the ex-President explained.

The cat’s previous custodians were the family of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. “Mrs. Medvedev may ask how the cat is doing,” Halonen said.

She said, however, that her husband had been guarded about the arrival of the new pet.

“He knows about the responsibilities towards cats, but then we got a picture of the kitten and the grandchildren were so excited,” she added.

“I believe that this cat will soften Pentti, the same way that Rontti did,” she said, referring to a previous family pet.

Two godparents for the kitten

The family have appointed two godparents for the newcomer. Their role will be to help care for the pet in the busy household. Meggi’s godmother is Eila Nevalainen, a former press aide to Halonen, while the former President’s 12-year old grandson Kaapo will take on the role of godfather.

“We thought the idea of godparents was rather amusing, and now it will add a pleasant dimension to life. I hope I’ll be able to get to know the cat, help take care of her and also get to know the other godparent better,” Nevalainen said.

Halonen said she was pleasantly surprised by public interest in the new cat, and noted that now she will become a regular family pet.

Sources: Yle

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