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Photo by Anton Maksimov juvnsky on Unsplash.

Soviet Union medals.

Masculine, strongman, alpha male that's the image Vladimir Putin wants to portray to the world. And according to the recent popularity polls, Putin's magic bullet hits nearly 80% of the Russians. Putin was described by his school friends as a fitness freak, militantly studious, but afraid of no one. He was an ideal student, girls fell head over heels for him.

Vera Brileva, now a married pensioner, dated the future Kremlin chief when he was 16. Vera liked or moreover loved Putin, she describes him as a fearless bloke, afraid of no one. She reminisces about an episode wherein she was waiting for a train with Putin late at night. While other girls would tremble with fear, she was with Putin at certain ease. She shared Putin's first kiss at his dacha in Tosno, just outside of St. Petersburg. While Putin and his friends were celebrating New Year's Eve, someone suggested playing spin the bottle. When Volodya, diminutive of Vladimir, spun the bottle it stopped at Vera, their kiss was brief and she remembers feeling suddenly hot. She was smitten by him.

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Victory Day celebrations in Stavropol, Russia.

Vladimir Putin is a well-known caninophile. His canines accompany him for official meetings at his residence, serving as a humanizing prop or an intimidating one. He has also been said to have compared President Bush's Scottish terrier, Barney to his black Labrador Koni. He sardonically commented on the comparison by saying, "Bigger, faster, stronger," intimidating Bush.

His love for dogs has given other world leaders a plausible excuse to gift him puppies in hope of establishing cordial relations with Russia. In 2017, he received a puppy as a belated birthday gift from Turkmenistan's President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Russia has invented a new chapter in world diplomacy namely Dog Diplomacy. But, there is one particular rare anecdote about Putin and his dogs.

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The Indian Prime Minister and his Russian counterpart shake hands.

Every French-speaking person remembers the video "Sarko bourré" ("Sarkozy drunk") at the G8 Summit in 2007.

"Je Vous prie de m'excuser pour mon retard du à la longueur de mon dialogue Avec monsieur Poutine" – "I ask you to forgive me for being late, this is because of the length of my dialogue with Mister Putin," Sarkozy said, pale, breathing hard and without a trace of a smile." Journalists mockingly wrote that the meeting with Vladimir Putin was washed down with too much vodka, but analysts knew very much that Putin is almost a teetotaler.

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Photo by Valery Tenevoy on Unsplash.

Anti Putin protests in Russian capital, Moscow.

It was August 1, 1998, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was vacationing in Karelia. He summoned Vladimir Putin, who was the newly appointed director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) to his dacha in Gorky to discuss his expectations from him. Yeltsin wanted Putin to "make the service less politicized" and to restore its prestige and authority. He wanted FSB to be a beacon of fear. Yeltsin offered Putin to return to active service, which Putin outrightly declined. He reasoned out by saying that "It's important that such a power ministry be headed by a civilian." And so he became the first and the last civilian to head the FSB.

It was August 20, barely a month into the appointment of Putin as the FSB director, Anatoly Levin-Utkin a journalist in St. Petersburg was brutally murdered. He was the deputy editor of the newly launched weekly newspaper Yuridichesky Peterburg Segodnya (Legal Petersburg Today).

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