Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin ‘a gay icon’
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has been hailed as a gay icon following photographs of him riding bare-chested through a Siberian wilderness.
The 57-year-old leader and former KGB man showed off his impressive physique, honed by years of athetlcs and judo.
According to the Times, the images, which have created a buzz on the country’s gay websites, will “confirm the Russian prime minister’s status as a gay icon”.
The images, released to the public by the Kremlin, showed him feeding his horse, riding a mini-submarine and swimming in a lake.
He regularly releases photographs of himself on testosterone-filled holidays and in 2007, was shown fishing bare-chested in a river.
That trip, with Prince Albert II of Monaco, was compared to a parody of Brokeback Mountain, the film about two gay cowboys.
Commentators have said the photographs are released as a show of strength and virility.
Putin is also a black belt in karate and has published a set of his own instructional DVDs, called Let’s Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin.
Despite the prime minister’s status as a pin-up for men and women alike, the country has a history of banning Pride marches.
Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov called gays “Satanic” several years ago and gay rights protesters have frequently been met with violence.
To see more images, scroll down to see video (Starts at 00.49)