(CNN) — In their book “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” Russia analysts Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy note Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “endless number of guises,” all meant to telegraph his status as Russia’s First Person.
“As president and prime minister, Mr. Putin has turned himself into the ultimate political performance artist,” they wrote. “Over the last several years, his public relations team has pushed his image in multiple directions, pitching him as everything from big game hunter and conservationist to scuba diver to biker — even nightclub crooner.”
One thing, however, unites the different guises of Putin. They all project an image of manliness, strength and robust health. In nearly all of his photo opportunities, Putin plays the role of Man of Action, and the Putin photo calendars that hit the market each year in Russia all showcase his macho athleticism.
Next year’s calendar selection is no exception.
One 2019 calendar newly on sale — called Putin VVP (the initials of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, universally known in Russia) — show him engaging in some of his robust and athletic hobbies. There’s Putin playing ice hockey, Putin fishing in a river, Putin in snorkeling gear.
And there’s the obligatory bare-chested Putin: The 2019 Putin VVP calendar also features the shirtless President taking the plunge in icy waters to mark Russian Orthodox Epiphany.
Putin calendars also showcase the leader’s gentler side, as benevolent father of his nation. The Putin VVP calendar also has an image of Putin holding a puppy, and standing contemplatively in a field of wheat.
Putin is famously known as a lover of the outdoors and is frequently portrayed as a defender of wildlife. The 2019 Medny Vsadnik (Bronze Horseman) calendar shows Putin with a leopard cub, and wearing a traditional costume of furs in a horse’s saddle.
So who is the real Putin? Whatever the guise, the Kremlin leader is always the man in charge.