Russian officials have long made a big deal out of their leaders' 60th birthdays. When Stalin turned 60 in 1939, he was given the Order of Lenin – at that time the Soviet Union's highest honour. Brezhnev was given an even higher award, Hero of the Soviet Union, on his 60th.
So what did the once-and-future Russian President Vladimir Putin get when he turned 60 on Sunday? Well, for one thing, an adoring hourlong documentary on the pro-government broadcast channel NTV, where the camera follows the president as he eats breakfast, works out in his gym, takes a swim, pets his dog, etc.
But why stop there? Vladimir Putin has so many macho persona, we thought we'd collate some of the highlights here. Which do you think Russians most fondly remembered on his special day?
Putin as scuba-diving archaeologist?
Putin aides later admitted the urns had been planted for him to "find" in front of the cameras.
Putin as crossbow-wielding whale researcher?
Putin as black leather-clad Harley-riding biker?
Putin as opponent-tossing judo black belt?
Putin as bare-chested horseman?
Putin as mama bird, "leading" Siberian cranes on their migratory flight?
Unfortunately, for all his unintentionally amusing publicity stunts, the Vladimir Putin that Russian citizens are going to have to live with is Putin as dissent-suppressing autocrat.
While supporters celebrated Putin's birthday with art exhibitions, poetry readings and birthday cakes, opponents sponsored a "Let's Send Grandpa to Retirement!" rally. Sixty is, after all, the official retirement age in Russia, where the average male life expectancy is 65.
Time Russia had fresh leadership?
Sources: NY Times, Russia Today, AFP, Guardian, Daily Mail, Wired, Business Week, Avaaz