How cool is Putin? Not only has the guy been running Russia for more than a decade and probably into the foreseeable future, he also shoots tigers, goes topless horseback riding, is rumored to have a gorgeous gymnast girlfriend, is best friends with Italy’s #1 playboy, goes submarine diving, flies fighter jets, hangs out at hip-hop shows, can paint million-dollar masterpiece art, and can discuss martial arts with friends like Jean Claude Van Damme any time he wants. If the average Russian voter were a 13-year-old boy, this guy would never leave power.
The latest move which should leave no doubts among Kremlin watchers that Putin intends to trump up his image for another run at the presidency, is this judo demonstration before dozens of TV cameras and an offer to join the Olympic team. The Prime Minister has used his judo hobby many times to macho-size his image – there is even a best-selling DVD featuring his lessons. In the preface to Putin’s 2004 Judo book, George Russel of EastWest Institute ironically wrote, “The principles of judo thus suggest a world in which global cooperation and exchange among nations can take the place of reliance on weaponry and threats.“
Medvedev, on his own behalf, is a decent photographer and has a good rock-n-roll record collection.