The Kremlin

Why Putin Can't Keep His Top On

Russian President Vladimir Putin's constant display of manliness in front of the cameras has a purpose. It's holding Russia together.

By Elizabeth Hagedorn | August 19, 2015

Peruse the Kremlin’s online photo gallery and you’ll notice a theme: President Vladimir Putin, often bare-chested, flexing his muscles in some display of manliness.  

Whether it's racing carspiloting a plane or shooting whales with a crossbow ... 

Putin, and likely his PR team, knows what he's doing. 

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True, the uber-macho publicity stunts earn him a lot of online ridicule

But to his comrades, the assertions of his masculinity say: The West can’t mess with this strongman. 

You've got to understand the mindset in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. (Video via ITN)

The country, humiliated, was in need of rebranding. (Video via Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Then-President Boris Yeltsin, a heavy drinker in poor health, couldn't deliver. (Video via YouTube / ptadich

His chosen successor, by contrast, was a young, ex-KGB agent bent on restoring Russia's greatness. (Video via CNN

Historians call what happened next the "remasculinization of Russia." (Video via Kremlin

Putin crafted a "tough guy with a sensitive side" image. (Video via RTThe Telegraph

The ice hockey, the baby leopards, the topless encounters with nature — it all played well at home. 

This is a country where a quarter of men die before their 55th birthday — thanks in no small part to the country's penchant for vodka. 

That's why Putin, now 62, goes out of his way to show he's healthy and in shape. (Video via Kremlin

Also keep in mind, because there's no obvious succession plan, the Russian state basically depends on him staying healthy. (Video via Kremlin

Hence the Indiana Jones-esque stunts.  

Which, we should mention — believe it or not —  are often staged. Putin himself admitted to it. 

Even the time he went deep sea diving and just happened upon buried treasure? That too, we're sorry to say, was a lie. (Video via The Telegraph

But his musical abilities? Now that’s the real deal. (Video via RT

This video includes an image from Getty Images and images from the Kremlin

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