According to the International Herald Tribune the Russian paper Komsomolskaya Pravda published a huge color photo of the bare chested president, under the headline: "Be Like Putin." along with a guide showing exactly what exercises were required to build up a torso like that of the Russian leader.
The photographs have had Kremlin watchers spending long hours trying to work out what sort of political message they might convey. One Russian radio talk show host speculated that the pictures were meant to enhance Putin's personal appeal to voters and thus a signal that he doesn't plan to relinquish power when his current term as president ends next year. Russian gay chat rooms and blogs claimed that Putin, by stripping to his waist, was somehow pleading for more tolerance of homosexuality in Russia — where gays and lesbians are for the most part forced to remain closeted.
The 54-year-old Russian leader has long cultivated an image of machismo and manliness. Well-known as a downhill skier and black belt in judo, Putin has appeared on national television engaging in other manly including a truck, operating a train and copiloting a fighter jet. The new set of photos could thus be another manifestation of his mystique. However, Stanislav Belkovsky, head of the National Strategy Institute think tank, took the view that they were nothing more than an effort to reassure Russians that Putin knows how to relax — and was preparing for retirement.
Personally I think the photos give an absolutely clear message: Putin, tiring of life at the helm of a massive and troubled nation has decided on a new career path and will be joining the Village People once his current term ends.
The only problem is that he can’t seem to make up whether he want’s to be the Cowboy or the Soldier...