With a winning smile and a silver neck chain hanging down over his bare torso, President Vladimir Putin graces the front page of a major Russian women’s magazine this week, with the caption: “The most eligible bachelor in the country!”
The magazine says that after Mr Putin announced his divorce from wife Lyudmila during a trip to the ballet last month, the country’s womenfolk have been lining up to get a piece of Russia’s top prize.
Kristina Orbakaite, an actress and singer, is also featured on the front page with the quote: “Any girl would marry Putin.”
A double-page spread inside lists the President’s qualities (“Just look at that powerful torso”) and notes that women find power and money sexually attractive, and that Mr Putin has plenty of both. In a slightly subversive move, the magazine mentions palaces and billion-dollar share holdings rumoured to be owned by Mr Putin, something he has denied.
Most of the Russian celebrities questioned by the magazine said they would consider marrying Mr Putin, except former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, long rumoured to be his mistress, who refused to comment. “I like Putin for his brain, his eloquence and his masculinity,” said TV host Anfisa Chekhova. “The one problem is that he lies too well.”
The magazine, Secrets of the Stars, has a weekly circulation of nearly half a million.