Russian magazine puts President Vladimir Putin being licked by a bear on cover

The unusual issue is reportedly in celebration of International Women's Day

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The Independent Online

A Russian state-owned magazine has put an image of Putin being licked by a bear on its front cover.

The celebratory issue was reportedly printed in honour of International Women’s Day, which was on Sunday.

The new publication - launched by the youth faction of the ruling United Russia party - featured a cover picture of President Vladimir Putin smiling as he is licked by a bear wearing a pink flower behind its ear.

The cover of Moct or ‘Most’ magazine, Russian for ‘Bridge’ - which is published in Saratov and available as a PDF version online - was released ahead of the March 8 holiday.

Wearing a black suit and appearing next to a bunch of colourful flowers, the image of Putin is accompanied with a caption that reads: "Happy March 8, girls!"

The Russian Bear is a widespread symbol for Russia, used in cartoons, articles and dramatic plays since as early as the 16th century.

It often was and is used by westerners in a less than flattering context, implying that Russia is "big, brutal and clumsy".

While the magazine offers no explanation on what Putin or the bear have to do with International Women's Day, Russian media have suggested that a flower depicted in the general proximity of the bear's ear shows the animal is female.

The magazine, billed as a publication ‘for young people in Saratov’, also lists a selection of the issue's highlights on its cover, with headlines such as: "The ideal young woman - our survey” and "Saratov's best brides”.

The magazine is expected to be distributed free of charge around the city, local Versia news portal has reported.