Oct 8, 2012 / 6:01 am
Kremlin officials like to insist Russian President Vladimir Putin does not care for big birthday bashes and that he was to spend his 60th on Sunday quietly celebrating with close friends and family in his home in St. Petersburg.
However, the president's supporters don't appear to have received the memo, and so the day saw an unprecedented exhibition of Putin-idolatry reminiscent of some of the world's oddest cults of personality.
Much of it, like it the fawning, up-close-and-personal profile on Kremlin-friendly television channel NTV, looked like propaganda. Some of the praise was so extreme as to appear almost like a subtle form of satire on Putin's heroic representations in state media. And some Putin opponents used the occasion to poke fun.
Here is a brief look at ways Putin's 60th birthday was marked:
The pro-government Mestniye youth movement held a sports contest in a central Moscow square under the slogan "Do Your Best for Putin." Organizers said the slogan symbolizes their gratitude for Putin's efforts to boost the popularity of sports by personally indulging in a healthy lifestyle. The black-belt judoka has over the years been shown horse riding, swimming, scuba-diving, playing ice hockey, and indulging in outdoor hunting.
NTV broadcast a documentary purporting to describe the details of Putin's working life. The program shows his daily routine, which includes swimming and weight-lifting exercises, a breakfast of porridge, the drive to work, and the late-night working sessions at the office. The program is laden with insights from Putin on the state of the opposition (poor) and the two-year jail sentence verdict against antigovernment punk band Pussy Riot for their performance in a cathedral (fair).
TIME TO RETIRE
A small group of people bearing mocking gifts assembled outside the presidential administration. A Facebook page titled "Time For Grandfather to Retire," created ahead of the quickly organized protest in Moscow, said presents for Putin's retirement could include anything, from money to Viagra pills. During the demonstration, many of the present-givers were bundled away by riot police, including one man carrying a pair of pyjamas with stripes that made them look like a prison uniform.
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