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Thatcher was a 'brilliant political figure'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday paid tribute to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, praising her brilliance and rigour.

Thatcher, who has been hailed for her pivotal role during the Cold War, "was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant political figures of the contemporary world," Putin said, speaking alongside Dutch Premier Mark Rutte during a visit to Amsterdam.

"She has made a very strong impression. She was very rigorous, direct and consistent. A great political figure," the Russian leader said of Thatcher, who died Monday aged 87.

Putin particularly noted Thatcher's contribution to Anglo-Soviet relations, something "for which we will always be grateful."

"I will have good memories of her," he said.

During her tenure in the 1980s, the "Iron Lady" built a close "special relationship" with US president Ronald Reagan which help bring the curtain down on Soviet communism.

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, whose good relations with Thatcher played a part in the end of the Cold War, also said she would live on in "memory and in history".

Putin's visit is centred on trade talks with major partner The Netherlands, and many Russian business leaders are travelling with him.

But his visit has been marred by protests mainly targeting a bill before the Russian parliament that bans homosexual "propaganda" among minors, but also a general rights clampdown in Russia, where Putin is serving his third term as president.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130408/thatcher-was-brilliant-political-figure