MOSCOW (AP) — Vladimir Putin’s torso, which he sometimes bares during sporting pursuits, is a familiar part of his public image. How much Putin reveals of the man behind the buff exterior is another question.
After 18 years as Russia’s leader — and with another six-year term sure to follow a March election — Putin doesn’t show the appetites or vulnerabilities that can personalize Western politics, even when staged or spun. If he has moments of merriment or melancholy, they happen in private.
His air of shadow, distance and restraint also stands out in Russia’s more rigid political culture. Never has Putin burst into wild dancing a la Boris Yeltsin or confessed a boyish affection for arena rock like Dmitry Medvedev did as a self-described Deep Purple fan.
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