The “Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin” DVD sets. The shirtless strolls through Siberia. The bizarre rendition of “Blueberry Hill.” Say what you will about Vladimir Putin’s politics and tendency to “erase” those who criticize him, the man has built one helluva PR machine over the past several years.

Putin came into power in 1999, and was almost immediately catapulted into widespread adoration. His portrait can be seen in classrooms throughout Russia, and you can find his face plastered just about anywhere–be it from “12 moods of Putin” calendars to coloring books to Putin-shaped chocolates. Thanks to digital photography and the Internet, Putin-mania can be seen by more people than ever before:

Glamorous Putin Karatash
Putin On Horse
Khemchik River
Putin Tuva
50 Glamorous Photos Of Vladimir Putin’s Glamorous Life
View Gallery

But why the hysteria over Putin, specifically? According to Russian professors Julie Cassiday and Emily Johnson,

"Putin mania offers Russians, many of whom felt themselves deprived of both cultural and individual identity during the chaotic 1990s, the opportunity to articulate new modes of subjectivity that, although they seem to pay homage to a vanished past, also reflect a contemporary social, political and communicative reality...the Putin phenomenon constitutes a part of a larger cultural trend of stylized expressions of nostalgia for the Soviet past that have flourished in Russia since the Soviet Union's demise."

Academic explanations aside, maybe it's just because Putin wears the timeless Russian hat really well and, through gratuitous displays of manliness, taps into memories of a tough, won't-take-your-shit Russian heritage.

According to the authors, one of Putin's biggest draws is that he can be whatever a Russian wants him to be. Say Cassiday and Johnson in "Putin & the Post-Soviet Cult of Personality," "Even after being invested with sobriety, strength and sex appeal, Putin's image has the curious ability to absorb multiple personae...not only does Putin seem to be a Russian everyman, but everyone also has the potential to become a Putin."

Check out Vladimir Putin singing below:

And an excellent documentary on his rise to power:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpiZw1R8w-c

All images come from Business Insider, Politico, Time and Reuters

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox is the Managing Editor of All That Is Interesting. She holds a Master's Degree in International Relations, and works as a reporter/producer for DNAinfo.
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