THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Students create racy calendar for Putin

Associated Press / October 8, 2010

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MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin received an unusual birthday gift yesterday from 12 female journalism students, who posed in lacy underwear and used sexual innuendo to create a calendar dedicated to Russia’s macho prime minister.

“How about a third time?’’ asks Miss February, hinting at a third presidential term for Putin, who served two terms as president from 2000 to 2008 and is eligible to run again in 2012.

“You put out the forest fires, but I’m still burning,’’ says Miss March, referring to Putin’s piloting of a firefighting plane during the summer’s devastating wildfires.

During his decade in power, Putin has been glorified in song and seen his name used to sell a brand of now-popular vodka. Students have formed Putin fan clubs, and activists in Kremlin-connected youth groups have chanted his name at their rallies and staged pranks ridiculing his critics.

The calendar created for Putin’s 58th birthday takes its inspiration from the Kremlin-driven campaign to boost Putin’s popularity and cultivate his alpha-male image. Putin himself has been known to show some skin, posing shirtless on horseback and while fishing.

The release of the pinup calendar was announced by the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, whose spokeswoman Kristina Potupchik posted the images in her blog. She said that 50,000 calendars were printed and that they were on sale in Moscow supermarkets for the equivalent of $8.50.

The calendars may also be the latest effort to profit from the prime minister’s popularity.

The 12 pinup girls, all students of Moscow State University’s journalism school, apparently risk no rebuke.

“I think this calendar is a rather frivolous production, but I don’t see any crime in it,’’ said Yelena Vartanova, the school’s dean.

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