President Putin Nurtures ‘Pop’ Image

February 27, 2008 05:35 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Vladimir Putin may seek to retain power after he steps down as Russian president. Sex appeal is one unlikely weapon in his arsenal.

30-Second Summary

As Russia gears up for presidential elections on March 2, outgoing President Vladimir Putin enjoys 83 percent approval ratings, according to a Feb. 16 poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center.

The Russian constitution prevents Putin from running for re-election this year. However, his protégé and likely presidential shoo-in, Dimitry Medvedev, is expected to nominate Putin as prime minister.

While internationally accusations abound that Russia is returning to Soviet-style authoritarianism, former KGB officer Putin has become a Russian public relations phenomenon.

Back in 2002, his press office released a dance video by The Putin Girls to local broadcasters. The song featured was called “Takogo Kak Putin (I Want a Man Like Putin).”

When photos of a bare-chested Putin were published in the international press last August, Russian radio talk show host Yevgeniya Albats suggested Putin was trying to raise his appeal among voters, a sure sign he is not relinquishing power.

A November 2007 rally for the United Russia party featured “slick, bubble-gum choreography,” which according to the BBC “was taken directly from the American school of electioneering.”

Russian newspaper Pravda, which declares on its masthead a “pro-Russia” editorial slant, analyzed Putin’s physiognomy. According to Pravda, squinty eyes such as his signify cunning and shrewdness, and “Ivan the Terrible squinted in a similar way.” Apparently, the Russian president’s large nostrils are a sign of his “unyielding” nature.

Fawning newspapers and a world leader flexing his muscles for the camera are amusing from a distance. But to some commentators these developments are disturbingly reminiscent of the personality cults of Russia’s Communist era.

Headline Links: Putin’s bare-chested photos

Related Topics: Making Russian politics sexy

‘Movie Tough Guys Flex Political Muscle’

Background: Putin and the premiership

Biography: Vladimir Putin (1952–)

Opinion: Faces and portraits

Reference: Putin’s popularity


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