December 15, 2011, 2:14 PM — The "UFO " that hovered over the crowd protesting the questionably honest but inevitable re-election of Vladimir "Action Vlad" Putin to the Russian Presidency turned out to be just a radio-controlled remote taking pictures of the crowd for a citizen-journalist TV network.
Putin has worked so hard to craft his image as a man of action – the one always first in line to respond in manly ways to emergencies, wild animals or what is apparently an insatiable Russian appetite for pictures of 56-year-old men with their shirts off – it would have been more surprising to discover Putin controlling the tiny copter from some dark control room than it would have been to learn he'd had himself miniaturized so he could fit in the tiny spy copter and fly its missions in person.
Putin actually spent the last four years in the largely ceremonial role of prime minister – to which Medvedev appointed him after Putin resigned in 2008 after serving the maximum two consecutive terms as Russian president.
Putin livened up the wait between sessions on the Medvedev remote controller with a string of TV and other media appearances in which he seemed to be auditioning either for the next James Bond movie, or one of those Most Interesting Man In the World beer commercials.
As Action Vlad, Putin criscrossed Russia demonstrating his obsessive physical fitness and a range of macho, outdoorsy skills during photo opportunities in which he pulled off a series of increasingly unlikely feats, but demonstrated a lack of consistent ability to keep his shirt on his back.
"Action Vlad" Putin in The Most Interesting (publicity stunt-generated image of a) Man in Russia
Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin