Russian President Vladimir Putin turned 62 Tuesday, and it was kind of a big deal in Russia.
Despite facing international criticism abroad for his perceived role in precipitating the conflict in Ukraine, Putin remains popular in Russia. His supporters went to some unusual lengths to celebrate his 62nd. (Video via President of Russia)
Somewhat ironically, perhaps, Putin supporters in Geneva, Switzerland, erected a figure of Putin under the famous sculpture of a symbolically broken chair — a move LifeNews says is meant to draw attention to Putin's "peace-keeping" efforts.
But the tribute that's gotten the most international attention has to be an art exhibit supporters set up. It depicts Putin as the mythical hero Hercules, replacing the latter's 12 tasks with contemporary issues, such as fighting terrorism. (Video via YouTube / Anna Nafieva)
The BBC interviewed the exhibit's creator:
MIKHAIL ANTONOV VIA BBC: "This has been part of our culture for thousands of years, a strong leader has always been in the center of society, and we the people have trusted them. ... Vladimir Putin continues that tradition."
That's referring to a popular story of Russia's earliest origins — when the people of the region that would become Russia asked a Nordic conqueror, Riurik, to rule them.
And it shows the extent to which some Putin supporters have bought into that narrative of Putin as the latest in a long line of strong authoritarian leaders in Russia, which might help explain some of the adulation.
As for what the man himself is doing for his birthday — he's celebrating by traveling to a remote part of the Siberian taiga ... naturally. (Video via Vice)
That certainly seems the most Putin way possible to spend what some state news agencies, such as ITAR-TASS, report is his first day off in 15 years.
That seems like quite the claim, and although it's a little tough to confirm, some outlets like BuzzFeed have run with it.
Regardless of whether it is or isn't actually his first day off, a Putin spokesperson could not confirm exactly what he'd be doing in the taiga. Although — if past evidence is anything to go off — he'll probably be shirtless, hunting or fishing something deadly.