Moscow: In a gesture marking their close friendship, Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday presented visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a lithograph painting of Russian monarch Nicholas II who had visited India in the 19th century, a map of India of that time as well as a Mughal coin.
The "very special gesture" of the Russian president "went beyond protocol" as no one had an inkling of it. The Russian president had personally got the items, said Indian Ambassador Ajai Malhotra to reporters here at a briefing.
Not only did Putin present Manmohan Singh with the gifts, he also explained the significance of the items, said the envoy.
Putin recalled the history of the early 1900s and the attempt by the tsar to open a Russian consulate in India.
The Russians had first applied to open a diplomatic mission in Bombay in 1857, but the British rulers were not helpful. Nicholas had visited 30 Indian cities during his trip.
The Mughal coin showed the close trade ties that India and Russia have shared for ages, said the envoy.
Putin's gifts were aimed to showcase how India-Russia ties were part of history, he added.