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Vladimir Putin is a Russian politician who served as the second president of the Russian Federation (2000 – 2008) and the prime minister (2008 – 2012). With his victory in the 2012 Russian presidential election, Putin became the first Russian politician to serve three terms of presidency in the Kremlin. A former KGB officer, he has had a longstanding cult of personality in Russia, and has been garnering reputation as a “badass” on the Internet.
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Vladimir Putin became the acting president of the Russian Federation on December 31st, 1999 after Boris Yeltsin’s unexpected resignation from the office. Immediately after taking office in January 2000, Putin signed a law into effect which granted various security agencies like FSB and Foreign Intelligence Agency direct access to all online transactions. Following the presidential election held in March 2000, Putin was formally inaugurated president.
Having entered power at a time when Internet usage was rapidly growing across the nation, Putin put extensive efforts towards promoting his image as a web-savvy leader. On March 6th, 2001, Putin hosted an online press conference through three major Russian websites Strana.ru, Gazeta.ru and the British news site BBC News Online, during which he answered 20 pre-selected questions out of 24,000 queries submitted by Russian and European Internet users in real time. Months later on November 15th, 2001, Putin participated in an NPR radio and web simulcast event to answer questions directly from American audiences.
Shortly after Putin reentered the office of presidency for the third time in May 2012, Anonymous hackers temporarily took down Putin’s website in keeping their promise to disrupt Russian governmental websites in protest against his questionable victory in the 2012 presidential election.
Many Russian internet users have portrayed him in threads, conversations, and image macros as either incredibly masculine or ruthless. Putin has his own category on Pundit Kitchen called Vladurday, reminiscent of Caturday, in which his badassery is constantly celebrated with simple image macros. Encyclopedia Dramatica has its own entry for Putin, extensive in image macros and descriptions of his manly exploits. Memegenerator has 15 separate Putin-related macros, including Advice Putin. Imageboard threads relating to Putin are very common, particularly when related to politics or international culture. In October 2011, FunnyOrDie published a slideshow article titled “50 Pictures of Vladimir Putin Looking Like a Complete Badass.”
In July 2011, an online campaign was launched by a group of women declaring themselves “Putin’s Army” (Russian: Armia Putina) who urged other female supporters of Putin to take their tops off in vouching their support for the third-time presidential candidate. As part of the campaign, the group released a video of a blonde student named Diana undressing herself while scrawling “I will tear my clothes off for Putin!” The video received more than 2.2 million views in less than a year since the upload.
140% Election Turnout
In early December 2011, legislative elections were held across Russia, with four major political parties racing for the 450 seats in the State Duma (the lower house of Federal Assembly): The Communist Party, The Liberal Democratic Party, A Just Russia and the ruling United Russia led by Vladimir Putin. The election results were reported as a victory for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia with a 49.32% of votes and an absolute majority of Duma seats. However, numerous irregularity reports by foreign observers and watchdog groups led to speculations of foul by Russian bloggers and journalists. While Russia’s state-run media remained silent on the issue, news stories about rigged votes quickly spread across Russia’s Facebook, Twitter and Livejournal. Image macro jokes in both Russian and English flooded various Internet humor forums and Facebook pages, including English-language sites Memebase, Memegenerator and 9gag. For more information, KYMdb – "2011 Russian Protests":knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/2011-russian-protests.
Putin in Jail Video
In February 2012, a mock newscast video was uploaded onto YouTube which showed Putin sitting behind bars with a voiceover narrating his charges of terrorism and theft. Later on it was revealed that the video was created as a collage of actual footage shot during the trial of Putin’s political opponent Mikahil Khodorkovksy, who was tried for tax evasion and then convicted of fraud in 2010. As of May 2012, the video has accumulated more than 6.6 million views on YouTube
As demonstrated by the following graph, Putin’s approval ratings (blue) have stayed consistently at least above 60%, but have even climbed to nearly 90% in Russia, while disapproval has meanwhile fallen.