Allow me to get on a stump and make a brazen generalization for a second: Most politicans become major pussies as soon as they're elected into public office. Former Russian President and current Prime Vladimir Putin, however, has somehow managed to become one badass mother f*cker during his time in office. Not only does ice run through his veins, he's managed to kinda, sorta launch Russia into the 21st century after the post-Soviet collapse and an eight-year reign of haggard, drunken suckiness under Boris Yelstin. And as Putin restored political stability to one of the world's perennial super powers, the ex-KGB agent also managed to cultivate the macho persona of an action movie star. Whether you love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that he's a man's man with a whole lot of swagger.
Over the past decade, Putin has flaunted his pursuit of masculine awesomeness with a variety of kick-ass publicity stunts. Last week the iron-faced international leader strapped into a Forumla One race car and took it for a spin around a test track. He was clocked at over 150 miles per hour yet barely flinched when getting out of the car. He just treated it like it was just another day at the Kremlin. Currently the media is oogling over the PM's new Bulgarian shepherd dog. Cute? Sure. Did he break a smile? Yes. But we wouldn't be surprised if his next conquest is wrestling and skinning an alligator and sharing its raw, beating heart with that dog. Here's Putin's 15 most badass publicity stunts.
Driving an F1 Race Car
When it comes to getting around, most coddled Heads of State are far too p*ssy to ride in anything other than a blast-proof, bullet-proof limousine with armed motorcade. Putin, however, is a different breed of untamed animal. In early November, Putin jumped at a chance to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car and see what the open-cockpit car was packing under the hood. The prime minster pushed the car to 150 miles an hour during the test drive, which was really a PR ploy to build buzz for the country's first F1 race, the 2014 Russian Grand Prix. Here in the States, the whole stunt prompts a bigger question: What it's going to take for a U.S. President to strap himself into a NASCAR car and take a test lap of left turns before the Daytona 500?
Shooting a Whale with a Crossbow
Back in August Putin spent time tracking endangered gray whales off Russia's far Eastern coast in the Sea of Japan. In order to help researchers collect skin samples, Putin armed himself with a crossbow and, so call me Ishmael, fired away three missed shots at a gray whale. He finally landed an arrow on his fourth attempt. Shortly after pulling the trigger, a journalist asked the Russian PM if he thought the ordeal was dangerous. His response was straight from the script of a Steve Segal movie: "Living in general is dangerous.”
Collaring a Polar Bear
Ten days before Putin paid the Artic Circle a visit in April 2010, scientists in Russia's Franz Josef Land archipelago sedated a polar bear with a tranquilizer dart. When the Russian prime minister showed up, he gave the massive bear a hug around the neck and attached a tracking collar.
Tranquilizing a Siberian tiger
By some estimates there are only 500 Siberian tigers left in the world. Despite the dwindling population, what does Putin decide to do? Bust a cap in one's ass... with a tranq gun. According to a Reuters report, nature-boy was on a visit to see a trapped Amur tiger in August 2008. But then all hell broke lose when the big cat escaped and jolted toward a TV crew. Reuters reports Putin shot the beast and sedated it with a tranquilizer gun before it could inflict any damage. He also embedded a tracking device on his endangered trophy. More importantly, all this happened at the same time he was telling the European Union to take their thumbs out of their asses. Best of all, one month later he was gifted with a tiger cub for his birthday.
Swimming with Dolphins
This old photo of Putin frolicking with dolphins convincces us that he'll be a damn adaquate leader when all the polar ice caps finally get around to melting.