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Propaganda is like nuclear material: It can completely change the political landscape, it goes scarily out of control when you have too much of it, and Russia has way more than too much of it. When America wanted an action hero as president, they filmed Air Force One. According to the stories coming out of Russia, such effort is unnecessary when your country is run by Vladimir Putin. This is a man who can't even go diving without finding ancient Greek amphorae, and is so photogenic they've been magically scrubbed clean before he reaches the surface. The fact that government agents clearly planted the relics only makes it more impressive. He has operatives who secretly SCUBA to plant artifacts in the Black Sea, and instead of sending them to Tomb Raid or kill James Bond, he told them, "Your mission is to turn the rest of my life into a Make-a-Wish foundation highlight video."

We've seen his incredible antics before. This time we're looking at the effects of a world leader using the international stage to show everyone how casually awesome you can pretend to be while keeping a straight face.

A Thousand Breasts For Putin

My Duck's Vision

One man was allowed to grab a thousand breasts in a row because Putin. That was his entire strategy. Russian comedian Sam Nickel had a chance to shake hands with the Russian prime minister, wanted to pass on two kilotits of "positive energy and tactile experience" through his hands and kept a straight face while explaining that to a thousand women. He maintained a fierce scowl of concentration throughout the project, possibly to prevent himself from giggling, "It's working!"

He actually tried it on five thousand women, proving that simply saying "Putin" gives you a 20 percent chance of getting to second base. That's one word per thousand gropes. Even pick-up artists don't claim rates that good, and desperation, bullshit and ridiculous online claims are their entire deal. He finished off this electronically-recorded 1,000-grab combo with a triple-hit-finisher, something which is normally the opposite of touching tits.

My Duck's Vision
Here a fat sumo really would be a combo breaker.

Jesus might have wasted his touches on leprosy, but Putin knows what's important.

Super Putin


Most world leaders are drawn by political cartoonists. Putin was drawn as a comic book hero by a man who seemed to be motivated by the question, "What if Superman actually did something constructive for a change, and also wasn't such a pussy?"

The Man of Steel dreams of a Man Who's Real.

The only difference with regular Russian news stories was Super Putin used art instead of photos. In most comics the character starts off a regular Joe and accidentally gains superpowers. In Super Putin, he starts off as Vladimir Putin and just keeps kicking ass from there. He defeats evil corporations, terrorists, zombies and interplanetary space ducks. In one scene he summons the spirit of wisdom (in a state Godzilla-breeding farm run by a mystic kung fu master) by pouring a bottle of Stolichniya into a mystic cauldron to summon Darth Vader, who uses the flaming heart of democracy to turn the Russian Bear Spirit into Dmitri Medvedev. There was not a single metaphor in that sentence.

This is pretty much Friday night at the Cracked offices

When American presidents appear in comics, it's just to hang out with "real" heroes. Russians realize how insulting that is.

Dynamite Entertainment
Obama saving a blue-collar worker

This comic makes Putin look even better than Batman. Bruce Wayne was just born into billions of dollars he could spend on training and looking awesome -- Putin had to join the KGB and take over an entire country first. Though he does now have just as many people writing, filming and imagining fictional scenes to make him look cool. The future plot of the comic is decided by democracy, safe in the knowledge that no one can effectively vote against Putin. Just like in the real Russia.

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Putin Vodkas. Plural.

Russia has a massively popular vodka named after Putin, which would be like Obama releasing a burger that went on to outsell the Big Mac in America. He's just won at Russia. While a political vodka technically violates their separation of church and state, it does show that they've made up for all those communist years by out-capitalizing America.

American presidents get in trouble when women put them in their mouths.

"Putinka" is actually an affectionate diminutive form of Putin's name, and you'd need at least a bottle of high-end vodka in you before you tried to call Putin "babbums." It's no novelty product either -- it has won multiple "Product of the Year" awards in the vodka category in Russia, and is the second best seller in their $11 billion vodka market. It's so popular there are even ridiculous knock-offs. This year a Lithuanian distillery launched "Putin" vodka, sold only in Lithuania, which isn't part of Russia and has about as much reason to like them as Ronald Reagan's Chechnyan summer home. After World War II, Lithuania fought a guerrilla war against the Soviets for almost a decade, losing 30,000 people, and losing very badly. They were then the first republic to break away from the Soviet Union, which is like being the first guy to charge the machine gun nest. They were blockaded, attacked by troops, then attacked again by paramilitaries. Putin vodka should be about as popular in Lithuania as Emperor Palpatine's Alderaanian Wine. But it sells, because Putin. (See also: boobies.)

Available in "Skull," "Bear!" and "So strong you can't look directly at the liquid" versions.

Even Medvedev has his own vodka, which (predictably) isn't nearly as popular. It's only a pity they're on the same party. A political debate turned drinking competition would finally get elected officials speaking honestly, even if only to say, "Ah luff yoo man, yuir ma bess fren."

"He Must Be Like Putin"

Putin plans to boost Russia's falling birth rate, but no need to brace yourselves -- he's not doing it personally. Much to the disappointment of Russian women -- two of which formed a band to sing "He Must Be Like Putin," describing the qualities (well, quality) of their ideal man. A group hasn't gotten together to nail a guy so hard since 33 AD.

While insecure rappers rent boats, stage lights and dozens of women to pretend that they're cool, for Putin the women go and film themselves in the hope he'll see. And they don't use editing, special effects or expensive props: They use stock news footage because he looks manly for real. The song opens with them immediately dumping their boyfriends in the hope of one day, maybe, meeting someone a bit like Putin. And by "a bit" they mean "an unconvincing stunt double voyeuring on us with a fat man."

The Putin Girls
This is how much Putin they'll settle for.

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Like Putin Video Game


Like Putin is the first flash game to feature a politician as anything but a very badly-mocked (and often literal) target. Putin literally leaps out of the headlines to fix things he doesn't like, making this the first video game character less powerful than the real thing, who gets to set headlines before they're printed. Usually by saving reporters from a charging tiger.

In the game he only beats up terrorists with his bare hands.

He rushes through the Web beating up terrorists, driving a Lada, winning the Olympics and collecting money to give to poor old Russian ladies. While saving the world and destroying lethal threats, he's strolling around in a business suit, because sprinting and power armor are for pansies like Master Chief.

The Putin Army

By definition, a "Putin Army" would have to be something other than armed forces because he makes them superfluous. He's defeated tigers, whales and polar bears -- giving him extra troops on his side isn't just unnecessary, it's unsporting. Which is why the Putin Army started as "women who will take their clothes off for Putin." Berlusconi had to sell his entire government to get that. Putin has them volunteering online in the hope he might notice.

They started with a post offering an iPad 2 to any girls who ripped up "something or someone" for Putin, but strongly hinted that it should be their clothes. By having girls meet at the waterfront to rip off their clothes. Russia doesn't screw around with hints (as anyone on their continent in the last century could tell you). As if opposition parties in Russia didn't have enough difficulties (like the justice ministry refusing to register them even when they're lead by a former prime minister), they now have to compete with breasts.

This escalated to scantily clad students cleaning Russian cars for free in the streets and turning the male and female hosts of a Russian news network into characters from a cliche romantic comedy.

Prime Time Russia
She's about to slap him and/because he's not even looking at her.

This triggered the best and sexiest escalation of all time with a counter-group of "Medvedev girls" dressing up as schoolgirls. It's especially gratuitous because Putin and Medvedev exhibit more obvious teamwork than the Constructicons. Medvedev just suggested Putin as the presidential candidate for 2012, so with the upcoming increase of presidential terms to six years they're exactly half-way through double-teaming the very concept of Russian democracy for 24 years. You get the impression they started this girl army contest just because they were two guys and realized they could.

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Asked To Award the MMA European Championship (Instead of Van Damme)


In what we can only take as a direct challenge by Putin to Cracked's resident manliest man, when Jean Claude Van Damme wants to watch mixed martial arts he brings Putin to make it more kickass.

Notice how Van Damme is thrilled to hang out while Putin wears the tolerating grin of a tired father.

The UFC fighters want to hang out with him too, because even people who take concussions for a living know that choke holds don't work against polonium-210 injections. Fyodor Yemelyanko is widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time -- he's won more martial arts awards than China, was undefeated for almost a decade and he says that earned Putin's notice.

In 2007, JCVD watched the Mixed Fight Championship between U.S. and Russia with Putin and Berlusconi, in what must have been the ultimate guy's night out. This also caused the infamous St. Petersburg unsplit-pants, hooker and even happily married women shortage.

At the 2010 MMA European Championships all the fighters and staff were so impressed at having a real badass around they called Putin out of the audience to award the championship. Van Damme was just one of 10 other guys on stage giving out lesser awards.

Which is only fair: Jean-Claude has to pay people to pretend to be beaten by him. Putin is in charge of an entire country, even when he pretends he isn't.

The Convent of St. Putin

Getty Editorial

Saint Putin. Let that idea sink in. Convent leader Svetlana Frolova has set up a religion based on Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, under the mistaken impression that his name isn't already impressive enough. She believes him to be the reincarnation of St. Paul the Apostle and Grand Prince Vladimir of Rus, founder of the Russian Orthodox church.

In 1996 she was jailed for fraud, and in prison turned to religion not because of Christ, but because of Putin. Since describing Putin as an incarnation of kickass is a pretty easy sell, and the same PR strategy he's using, she convinced others to join her in a convent in Bolshoya Yelnya. It's basically a bunch of old ladies who've decided this is the only way they'll be able to get on their knees for services to Putin's manliness at their age, and they're going for it.

Reuters/Natalia Plankina
"Blessed sisters, I imagine that it is THIS BIG!"

It's also the worst possible publicity for Putin. His PR staff already spends 23 hours a day assuring people he's not turning the entire country into a cult, so an actual cult is bad news. Luckily, all of "Mother Fotinya's" followers are extremely old, and one of the religion's rules forbids modern medicine, so it shouldn't be a problem for long. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin was "bemused" by the sect. That's about right: an entire convent of people dedicating themselves to him body and soul is a slightly amusing issue of minor concern. He went on to add, "I would like to recall another of the main commandments: thou shalt not worship false idols." Though whether this was a caution for the sect, or a warning to the rest of the world, remains unclear.

Fans of political ass-kicking can read 7 Reasons Vladimir Putin Is The World's Craziest Badass, while porno fans should behold Berlusconi's antics in The 5 Craziest Exploits of the World's Shadiest Politician.

Luke McKinney also tumbles and has a website.

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