The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

“I think he is quite handsome”

April 18, 2007

Is it the James-Bond resume? The oh-so-sexy firm hand of quasi-autocratic leadership? The way his soul shines through his eyes? Vlad’s allure will forever remain a mystery to me.

President Vladimir Putin may be in the newspapers every day and on the television every evening, but for some that is just not enough. Portraits of the president are not uncommon in homes and offices alike.

“He is our president, and I like having him in our office,” said Svetlana Osuva, an accountant in Moscow. “I think he is quite handsome,” she added. The portrait at her work is a photo of a stern-faced Putin staring out from his desk with a Russian flag in the background.

There are many such photos for sale at Dom Knigi bookstore on Ulitsa Novy Arbat, and they all cost less than 5,000 rubles. A 70-by-50-centimeter photograph, with a frame of fake wood and gold leaf, costs 4,800 rubles. Putin in a winter navy uniform complete with hat and fur-trimmed collar costs 1,900 rubles, and a favorite of the staff is one of him talking on the phone at the office. “It looks like he is talking to you,” a bookstore employee said.

But I definitely “get” this:

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.