Russian President Vladimir Putin and his loyal Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently did a lot of macho activities suspiciously close to a camera.
The two leaders were visiting the southwestern Russia city of Sochi over the weekend, ostensibly to attend a martial arts tournament on Saturday. But on Sunday, they spent the morning in the private gym of Bocharov Ruchei, the presidential summer home in Sochi.
Amid cameras from government-sponsored news outlets, they broke a sweat with the help of several weight and exercise machines. They then grilled steaks and settled down to a relaxing lunch, making sure to clink their teacups for the journalists. (RELATED: For Putin, Even A Tiny Fall In Popularity Could Be Huge)
Russia Today, the English-language state news agency, provided an eerily silent video of the proceedings.
A hyper-masculine self-image has been essential to Putin’s leadership in Russia since he first took power in 2000, to an extent that would be absurd for most other international leaders. A few weeks ago, he appeared in a small research submarine off the coast of Crimea, the newly Russian territory on the Black Sea, to visit a shipwreck.
And of course, shirtless photographs of Putin on horseback have taken on a life of their own in U.S. pop culture. (RELATED: Krauthammer Explains How Putin Plans To Undermine Obama)
But in this case, even the official accounts of the morning had some discrepancies. Russia Today reported that the two cooked their meal “without any help” — but in Russian, the RIA Novosti agency only claimed that they they “cooked some of the food themselves.”
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