What can you get the man who has everything? In the case of Vladimir Putin, a pro-Kremlin website has decided the appropriate gift is a book of pop culture depictions of the Russian president, who celebrates his 64th birthday on Friday.
The book, In the Lead Role: Putin in Contemporary Culture, is 288 glossy pages of Putin in magazines and books, television and film, graffiti, sculpture, music and consumer goods. There are numerous photographs of public stunts in support of Putin, such as Russians holding letters reading “Happy birthday Vladimir”, and the “I Will Rip It for Putin” rally at which young women tore off sleeveless undershirts with the president’s face pictured in pink.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, T-shirts and iPhone cases featuring Putin’s image have become popular, found at any airport and in a new chain of army stores.
Viktor Levanov, editor of the pro-Kremlin news site Gosindex, told journalists at a photo studio in downtown Moscow that the birthday book was meant to look at how Putin had “stepped outside the boundaries of personality and became a worldwide cultural phenomenon”. Read more