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Aug-27-2010 17:06printcomments

Why Vladimir Putin is a Russian Superman

It's easy to see why the charismatic leader has a 74 percent approval rating among all Russians in the latest polls.

Putin (circled) poses as a tourist while keeping an eye on President Ronald Reagan. Other images of Putin courtesy Tim, Russian Federation.

(CHICAGO) - In Russia? View this story in Cyrillic: Почему Владимир Путин – российский Супермен

Vladimir Putin is the face of New Russia. The former president and now premiere of what was once the land of the Czars and later the failed socio-economic experiment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, is the proverbial man of the hour—perhaps the decade.

Russia's answer to America's John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, Putin is a hands-on, can do leader that can look death in the face or attend a state dinner with the same unflinching resolve. He is a man who can and will win for Mother Russia and the people know it.

Once jokingly referred to as 'a vampire' by his wife, Lyudmila, Putin has more Superman in him than Dracula. Whether dealing with a massive firestorm that threatens Moscow itself or a renegade runaway tiger, Putin handles any emergency with confidence, assuredness and aplomb. Very much like a suave Bond hero, after Putin embraces dangers one can imagine him relaxing with a cold vodka martini.

Yes, it's true: hard-bitten, skeptical Russian men admire him and beautiful women are awed by him. Some call him the "Renaissance Russian."

While Putin's latest well-publicized escapades involved him wearing camouflage gear and interacting with waddling brown bears in the Kamchatka nature preserve of Far East Russia and shooting darts with a crossbow into gigantic Humpback whales in the Sea of Japan, previous jaw-dropping "adventures" have included calmly standing up to a marauding Siberian Amur tiger during 2008 while a film crew around him fled screaming.

After personally tranquilizing the bellowing beast, Putin gave it a gentle kiss on the head. Such behavior can only win the minds of men and hearts of women.

After his whaling adventure, Putin granted an interview during which he expressed a sense of exhilaration and admitted, "I missed three times but hit on the fourth attempt." A few of the reporters raised the issue of safety. "Living in general is dangerous," he replied with a shrug.

It's easy to see why the charismatic leader has a 74 percent approval rating among all Russians in the latest polls.

Endearing and heroic feats

Manning the co-pilot's seat of a Be-200 amphibious fire-fighting aircraft, Putin personally assisted in the efforts to quell the massive firestorm razing the thick forests of the Ryazan region, southeast of Moscow.

Alexei Mukhin, the director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow, told the Monitor news service that "This is Putin's personal style, he likes to show that he's everywhere, that he can do anything. And all indications show that this works. Russians feel reassured to have such a leader, and they miss Putin as president. You can see it in their eyes."

Speculation abounds that the popular leader will make a bid for the presidency of the Russian Federation again during 2012. If true, then Russians will be expressing their feelings for Putin with more than their eye—they'll let their thoughts be known at the ballot box.

Not to let James Bond out do him, any self-respecting superman must know how to fight man-to-man. Therefore, it's not surprising to learn that Putin is a master of martial arts skills. Known for his Hari Gosh—a Judo maneuver done with the hip—Putin explains his personal style in the popular book, "Judo with Vladimir Putin."

During a 2001 interview with America's National Public Radio, Putin stated that Judo was an important part of a value system. "I think that there is more to it than just sport. I think it's also a philosophy in a way, and I think it's a philosophy that teaches one to treat one's partner with respect. And I engage in this sport with pleasure and try to have regular practices still," he said.

And regular practices he has. The Russian ex-president is still the president of the Yawara Dojo in Saint Petersburg. It was at that same Dojo that he first began learning the martial arts while still in grade school.

While it's true that over the past decade Putin has flown an advanced Su-25 fighter plane, co-piloted Tu-160 supersonic bomber at low altitudes and took command of a nuclear submarine, these are not publicity stunts or photo opportunities. It's obvious the man gets an adrenalin rush from such forays into danger and has the wherewithal to master them through supreme self-assurance and knowing his own personal limitations.

Although some say he is emotionally cold, they are mistaking his self-confidence and coolness. Those that know him well—like former US president George W. Bush-—call him a true friend and say he is very warm and personable in private.

And Putin is cool in the good sense of coolness, whether facing down wild animals, commanding unforgiving technology, or staring down his country's adversaries. Facing an opponent, he respects them, never underestimates them, but doesn't overestimate their capabilities either.

A popular Russian action doll memorializing Putin lacks a shirt. It's not an oversight—the public responds to their shirtless leader, flexing his muscles while fishing or horseback riding. The doll capitalizes on Putin’s natural machismo.

And while many world leaders take vacations in cushy locales at posh resorts, Putin chose to spend his down time during 2009 vacationing in Tuva—a rugged, mountainous region in the Siberian wasteland. There he rode bareback and shirtless before swimming in the icy mountain rivers.

Some leaders in the West could do well to emulate the Russian superman to a degree. After all, bureaucratic professors may be in their place before chalkboards and committees, but not leading great nations into the future.

Not a bureaucrat, a stuffy professor, a media construct or fake, Putin the man is for real.

We await Vladimir Putin’s next adventure.

Terrence Aym is a Contributor based in Chicago, who is well known nationally for his stirring reports on the top ranked site, Born in Minnesota, Terrence Aym grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs. Having traveled to 40 of the 50 states and lived in 7 of them, Aym is no stranger to travel. He's also spent time in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Western Africa. An executive for many years with Wall Street broker-dealer firms, Aym has also had a life-long interest in science, technology, the arts, philosophy and history. If it's still possible to be a 'Renaissance man' in the 21st Century, Aym is working hard to be one.

Aym has several book projects in the works. Media sites that have recently featured Aym, and/or discussed his articles, include ABC News, TIME Magazine, Business Insider,, Discover, Dvice, Benzinga and more recently, his work has been showing up in South Africa and Russia.

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