by Fitzgerald Cecilio
A spokesman for Vladimir Putin denied New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft's claim that the Russian leader took his 2005 Super Bowl ring without permission during a visit to St. Petersburg that year.
"What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird," Dmitry Peskov told CNN. "I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift."
Peskov clarified that the ring is not in Putin's possession but is now at the Kremlin's library.
At that time, Kraft even released a statement that he gave the ring to Putin as a gift.
However, Kraft's late wife, Myra, claimed in 2007 that the ring wasn't intended to be a gift.
The controversy was again rekindled when Kraft told the crowd during the Carnegie Hall's Medal of Excellence gala that Putin took his Super Bowl XXXIX ring when he visited Russia in 2005.
"I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,'" Kraft said. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."
Kraft also told the crowd that he received a call from the George W. Bush-run White House, saying, 'It would really be in the best interest of United States-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.'
A spokesman for the Kraft Group released a statement, clarifying Kraft's remarks.
"It's a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs. He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin," the statement said.
"In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy. An added benefit from the attention this story gathered eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia," the statement added.