Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the most popular political figures the nation has ever had, celebrated his 62nd birthday Tuesday, and his nation celebrated with him. Taking a rare day off, Putin flew to Siberia where he spent his birthday in the wilderness he loves. The Russian people celebrated the day with tributes and parties in their president's honor.
As NBC News reports, Russians dressed in the colors of their country's flag marched in Grozny in a 650-yard long Russian flag. Shirts and jackets with depictions and portraits of Vladimir Putin were sold and worn throughout the nation as well. Art depicting Vladimir as Hercules, committing the "twelve feats," was displayed in Moscow, as was another depicting Putin carrying the globe as Atlas. Most of the trials depicted were created using contemporary accomplishments of the Russian president.
The website Zero Hedge points out that whereas our own president, Barack Obama, spent his 53rd birthday last month playing golf, Vladimir Putin in a diametrically opposite fashion. Putin, formerly a KGB spy, spent his birthday in the Siberian Taiga in the northern regions of Russia. The Russian president was miles away from the nearest village, and was likely doing the things he's often depicted doing in photo ops, such as frolicking with reindeer, paragliding, and petting baby tigers.
This is the first time Vladimir Putin has taken his birthday as a day off, causing some to speculate as to why, exactly, the 62-year-old Russian leader would choose to do so this year. Most likely it's due to the way his busy schedule has been lately, thanks to unrest in Syria and the Ukraine. Last year, Putin spent his birthday drinking vodka with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Indonesia during a summit.
Yahoo News reports that some were not as impressed with Vladimir Putin being depicted as Hercules, especially given that one of the "feats" was his takeover of Crimea. Yet over 100,000 people in Chechnya marched in his honor, they report. For most Russians, the annexation of Crimea was a triumph. Some pundits call the popularity of Vladimir Putin a "personality cult."
The popularity of the Russian president does not extend far beyond his nation's borders, however. Opponents in the Ukraine aired a collection of Twitter messages and internet memes deriding Vladimir Putin and his legacy. One group staged an online petition asking how Ukrainians would like to see Putin die.
World leaders sent notes of birthday wishes to Vladimir Putin, popular or not, on this day, the Kremlin reported to Yahoo News.