Men climbed peaks and unfurled his portrait, while women flirted shamelessly in videos that quickly went viral: Russians celebrated Vladimir Putin‘s 60th birthday on Sunday with adulation fit for a king.
All across the country, cities attempted to outdo each other with platitudes. The town of Vladimir woke up to find the city’s name changed to reflect Putin’s name and patronymic – Vladimir Vladimirovich – on all its street signs. In the southern region of North Ossetia, 10 mountaineers scaled a 4,150-metre mountain and planted a large portrait of Russia‘s powerful leader – the first step, they said, towards having it renamed Peak Putin.
Not everyone in the kingdom was in celebratory mood. The irony of the fact that Putin has reached 60, the age at which Russian men are eligible for retirement, in the year of his contentious return to the Kremlin was not lost on those who have spent much of the past year taking to the streets in anger.
“Lead Grandad to Retirement” was the name of one protest held by around 150 of those demonstrators, who came equipped with pipes and slippers as retirement presents for the increasingly unpopular Putin.
There was also this:
Russian officials remained mum on another anniversary celebrated on 7 October, the day in 2006 on which the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered. As Putin was getting ready to celebrate his birthday in St Petersburg, opposition activists in the northern city gathered in the centre of town to unfurl a banner reading: “Putin, we remember everything.”
A fresh Politkovskaya post: Anna Politkovskaya tells a threat story.