Putin books, t-shirts, and calendars; a bestselling autobiography; a Putin Bar in Volgograd, a Vova Putin strain of frost-resistant tomatoes, and a hit song, "I Want Someone Like Putin."
Gas a few of your people and they'll really go bananas for you!
The SF Chronicle's Anna Badkhen describes a cult of presidential personality that may not be accidental. (Singing Together, the girl group that sings "I Want Someone," sounds suspiciously like Moving Together, a pro-Putin youth group that campaigns "against avant-garde writers who ridicule Soviet-era heroes.") One Putin appearance on a talk show sounds like a new version of Someone Should Tell the Czar:
As he took questions from ordinary people across Russia's nine time zones, Putin gave his advice on issues such as how to prevent hate crimes, whether to tolerate Islam and what to do about sex and violent scenes on television. Like an all-powerful game show host, he also promised to solve callers' personal problems, ranging from unpaid salaries to unheated apartments.
And when 11-year-old Natasha Bugaryova from the far eastern city of Birobidzhan called to complain that local authorities had put up a synthetic Christmas tree instead of a real one in the city square, Putin promised to take care of that, too.
"Your governor should make his people a present and replace the synthetic Christmas tree with a real one," Putin said, leaving little doubt that the governor in question, Nikolai Volkov, would quickly spring into obedient action.
Nikolai Volkov sure has fallen on hard times since his grudge match against The Iron Sheik.