Calendar shows 12 faces of Putin
MOSCOW, Russia -- While the West may have Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears, in Russia there is only one calendar star for 2002: President Vladimir Putin.
The large-format calendar, 60cm by 90cm and issued in a limited edition of 1,000 copies, shows Putin looking variably stern, smiling or thoughtful, depending on the month.
One even shows Putin sitting cross-legged in his white judo outfit.
The calendar is the latest attempt to dispel the commonly held impression of Putin as the rather upright and serious character who once led the KGB and to show more of his human side.
Its release comes weeks after he laughed and joked with President George W. Bush during a visit to the U.S.
Titled "The 12 moods of Putin," the Russian media suggests that every Kremlin official would be wise to own their own copy, if only to help them decode the president's mood.
'Fell in love'
Moscow artist Dmitry Vrubel told the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview published on Tuesday that his apartment phone was already ringing with calls from "above" eager to get a copy of the calendar.
Vrubel, a widely respected contemporary Moscow artist, drew 13 portraits from photographs: one for each calendar month and the last to adorn the cover.
While the calendar is a limited edition, the portraits can be seen in an exhibition in a Moscow gallery.
"We, while drawing, literally fell in love with him," Vrubel's wife, Viktoria Timofeyeva, was quoted as telling the newspaper.
The pictures were not officially commissioned by the Kremlin and were based on photographs rather than sittings.
Vrubel said that this was deliberate because they wanted to pin down certain expressions and match them to months, whereas when a subject sat for a portrait their expression kept changing.
Timofeeyeva said: "In the end I felt we were painting a friend or a neighbour, not a leader who inspires fear."
A senior Kremlin official has given the calendar to Putin, together with the original oil painting of the December portrait, which shows the Russian leader in a thoughtful pose.
"He apparently liked it very much" Vrubel said.
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President Vladimir Putin
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