One in every five Russian women would like to marry Vladimir Putin, according to a poll released ahead of the Russian President's 60th birthday tomorrow.
Just 43 per cent answered that they "definitely would not" want to marry Mr Putin, while 6 per cent said they "definitely would" and 14 per cent said "probably". The survey, for the independent Levada polling centre, polled nearly 2000 women across Russia.
During the 12 years he has run Russia, Mr Putin has cultivated the image of a healthy, virile action-man, often posing topless for cameras. A female pop duo released a song called "A Man Like Putin" in 2004, in which they listed the positive qualities of the Russian leader and wished for a husband who was just like him.
In recent months, there have been growing protests against Mr Putin's rule and his stunts have provoked amusement rather than awe, notably a recent mission to help rare Siberian cranes begin their winter migration, during which Mr Putin flew a microlight while dressed in white to fool the birds. Contrary to the survey results, a commentator in Russian Forbes wrote yesterday that "when there is no trust, any cult of personality becomes a parody".