The Kremlin has released pictures of Vladimir Putin and his Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev pumping iron together, in a bizarre attempt at bulking up their popularity by boosting their image as masculine and rugged.
The pictures show the pair in sweatpants and T-shirts operating various pieces of gym machinery before enjoying grilled meat and tea together.
The publicity shots, which are reminiscent of when Putin has himself pictured shirtless on a horse, flying a supersonic jet and hunting a tiger, have appeared at a time when the President’s public approval has been dipping.
A sluggish economy, a decline in oil prices and the subsequent dive in the rouble’s value has dented Putin’s popularity, as has the Western sanctions put in place following Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
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