Vladimir Putin is the face of New Russia.
The former president and now premiere of what was once the land of the Czars and later the failed socioeconomic experiment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, is the proverbial man of the year--perhaps the decade.
Russia's answer to America's John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, Putin is a hands-on, can do leader that can look death in the face or attend a state dinner with the same unflinching resolve. He is a man who can and will win for Mother Russia and the people know it.
Once jokingly referred to as "a vampire" by his wife, Lyudmila, Putin has more Superman in him than Dracula. Whether dealing with a massive firestorm that threatens Moscow itself or a renegade runaway tiger, Putin handles any emergency with confidence, assuredness and aplomb. Very much like a suave Bond hero, after Putin embraces dangers one can imagine him relaxing with a cold vodka martini.
Yes, it's true: hard-bitten, skeptical Russian men admire him and beautiful women are awed by him. Some call him the "Renaissance Russian."
Putin goes on fishing trip
While Putin's latest well-publicized escapades involved him wearing camouflage gear and interacting with waddling brown bears in the Kamchatka nature preserve of Far East Russia and shooting darts with a crossbow into gigantic Humpback whales in the Sea of Japan, previous jaw-dropping "adventures" have included calmly standing up to a marauding Siberian Amur tiger during 2008 while a film crew around him fled screaming.
Putin soothes Siberian tiger
After personally tranquilizing the bellowing beast, Putin gave it a gentle kiss on the head. Such behavior can only win the minds of men and hearts of women. After his whaling adventure, Putin granted an interview during which he expressed a sense of exhilaration and admitted, "I missed three times but hit on the fourth attempt." A few of the reporters raised the issue of safety. "Living in general is dangerous," he replied with a shrug.
Putin aims crossbow at whale
It's easy to see why the charismatic leader has a 74 percent approval rating among all Russians in the latest polls.
Endearing and heroic feats
Manning the co-pilot's seat of a Be-200 amphibious fire-fighting aircraft, Putin personally assisted in the efforts to quell the massive firestorm razing the thick forests of the Ryazan region, southeast of Moscow.
Alexei Mukhin, the director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow, told the Monitor news service that "This is Putin's personal style, he likes to show that he's everywhere, that he can do anything. And all indications show that this works. Russians feel reassured to have such a leader, and they miss Putin as president. You can see it in their eyes."
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