From the Times UK:
Vladimir Putin has buffed up his action-man image and raised the pin-up stakes among world leaders by posing barechested for another set of holiday pictures.
Photographs were published yesterday showing the Russian Prime Minister stripped to the waist riding a horse through rugged terrain during a brief holiday in the Siberian region of Tuva. Wearing only green fatigues, his eyes hidden behind reflective sunglasses, Mr Putin also showed his gentler side as he fed the horse from his hand after the ride.
Mr Putin, who will be 57 in October, showed off a set of rippling arm muscles as he demonstrated his butterfly swimming stroke. The photos will inevitably trigger mass swooning by women all over Russia — as well as unfavourable comparisons of their husbands to Mr Putin’s manly physique. They will also confirm the Russian Prime Minister’s status as a gay icon.
The latest images are likely intended to remind them that Mr Putin is in robust health exactly a decade after he first came to power as acting Prime Minister in August 1999. The unspoken subtext is that he would be fit to return as president in 2012 if he chose to, ruling for up to another 12 years.
Mr Putin was also following a Soviet tradition of lauding the prowess, usually imaginary, of party leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev, who was fond of hunting for bears and wild boar. He grew so incapable towards the end that KGB officers would drug and tether animals to trees so that Mr Brezhnev could shoot them. President Medvedev, who has previously expressed a love of yoga, has so far refrained from emulating his mentor by stripping off for the cameras (emphasis added).
Amusing stuff. There’s fodder here for enough Big Government propaganda films to keep Hollywood busy for the remainder of Obama’s presidency. Here’s a teaser for one such tribute:
Set against the sweeping vistas of the Siberian region of Tuva to the affluent Hyde Park neighborhood of South Side Chicago, Broke ’Bam Putin is the story of two power-hungry narcissists hell-bent on destroying America. The two unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection, whose complications, joys and tragedies provide a testament to the enduring bankruptcy of Socialism. Based on actual events.