Millennium Post

Putin turns 60, Russia celebrates

Putin turns 60, Russia celebrates
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin turned on Sunday, the official retirement age in the country he has dominated for the past 12 years, as his supporters celebrated his leadership and machismo.

Putin flew to his native northwestern city of Saint Petersburg to spend the day with ‘friends and family’, according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

However his supporters went out of their way to wish him the best and his birthday figured prominently in each newscast of the day on Russia’s state television channels.

‘Your name is a symbol of a wise politician and a strong leader in Russia and the world,’ Saint Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko wrote to the president in an open letter.

‘You returned to Russians their confidence in tomorrow.’

An exhibition dedicated to Putin, called A Man of the Kindest Soul, opened on Sunday in a Moscow art centre. Black Labradors, the same breed of dog as Putin’s pet Connie, were expected at the show.

Molodaya Gvardiya, a pro-Kremlin youth movement, posted a video on their web site of young women assembling to greet an arriving Putin with a cake after participating in various activities associated with the Russian leader.

One, wearing a ‘Putin’ hockey jersey, is shown scoring a goal in a USA-Putin match before receiving a text message saying, ‘I’m on my way,’ presumably from the president. She then winks at the camera, smiling seductively.

Putin’s sports hobbies are also featured in a rare up-close-and-personal special made by the NTV channel, to air today during prime time. The filmmakers trailed Putin for a week, even taking the camera to a swimming pool.

Russian bloggers snickered that Putin’s image of a young and energetic leader no longer corresponded with his age. A rally planned for the day was called ‘Let’s Send Grandpa to Retirement!’

A survey by independent pollster Levada this week showed that despite his age, Putin is still popular with the ladies, with 20 per cent of Russian women saying they would like to marry him. In power since 1999 –  first as prime minister, then president, then prime minister and now president again – Putin has over the past decade sidelined opponents, and in May triumphantly returned to the Kremlin for a third term.


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