x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Politics on steroids

As soon as the Russian election campaign started, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, showed up at a bikers' rally. Russia's leader loves his macho posturing.

He has flown jet aircraft, shot a tiger and even pulled a shift as a fireman. When it comes to self-promotion, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is in a league of his own - which is handy if you plan on being either president or prime minister of Russia for the foreseeable future.

On Monday, the prime minister joined a bikers' rally to mark a Second World War anniversary in the city of Novorossiysk, a few hours after a general election was called for in December. He addressed a crowd that included bikers from the country's top club, the Night Wolves, and elderly war veterans. A few members of "Putin's Army" - attractive young women campaigning for the former president - were probably also in attendance.

Does the man know no limits? Last month, Mr Putin went scuba diving at a Black Sea site known as the "Russian Atlantis" and came up clutching two ancient ceramic containers. It was staged, some said, although not to the judo blackbelt's face in all likelihood.

So while Bill Clinton can belt out a tune on the saxophone and President Barack Obama is handy on the basketball court, neither has quite the same lock on popularity. We strongly suspect that he will clinch upcoming elections if he runs. Then again, maybe he's wasted on politics and should perform full time. A Russian David Hasselhoff, anyone?