Highlights from Reuters:
The “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” daily published an “Ode to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin” written in a style typical of poems devoted to former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. “The country is again at a crossroads wondering whether it might perish or not,” the ditty reads. “We congratulate you comrade Putin and ask God to give you another 120 years.”
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Putin handed over the presidency in May 2008 to handpicked successor Dmitry Medvedev. He took the more junior post of prime minister but he is widely believed to make all key decisions. The former KGB spy has become a devout believer since the collapse of communism and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was among the first to congratulate Putin on his birthday. “Wisdom based on rich political experience, typical for you, is a guarantee of stability in our state,” Kirill wrote in a congratulatory message carried by Russian news agencies.
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Igor Yurgens, who heads a think-tank working for Medvedev, told Reuters recently that “the cult of personality is in our genes,” citing busts and portraits that appeared after Putin’s first term — though he said Putin himself had resisted it. “I believe this is the nature of Russian power,” Yurgens added. “There is huge inertia living in this secret Kremlin, looking out on those 1,500-year-old towers and churches. Something happens inside you, I guess.”