21 Photos Of Vladimir Putin That Will Melt Your Heart

Vladimir Putin Russia

Vladimir Putin has been at the highest echelons of not just Russian, but world power since 1999.

Last night, in what has been described as “the most important speech of his career”,Putin claimed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to be a part of Russia and signed a treaty to make it so.

His actions over the past few weeks in Ukraine have seen him portrayed in Western press as a bully. The recent Sochi Winter Olympics highlighted major concerns about his regime’s inefficiency and alleged corruption.

He is perhaps the (second) most important in the world. He’s also something of a macho man — some would even say he’s a badass.

However, he also appears to have a gentler side — one that he loved to show off in publicity shots. This gentler Putin loves children, animals and fun.

Which is the real Putin?

He has time for young fans ...

... greeting them in the street ...

... and enjoying tea with them.

He loves animals.

The two dogs here are an Akito-Inu called Yume (front), and a Bulgarian Shepherd called Buffy.

Buffy was a gift from Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov.

He loves creatures of all shapes and sizes ...

From elks ...

... to dolphins ...

... and tigers.

He's always joking.

He enjoys visiting schools ...

... and attending graduations.

In his spare time he likes to read ...

... socialize with friends ...

... go bowling ...

... and play piano.

The Kremlin has tried to portray something of a bromance between Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president and current prime minister.

Here they are fishing.

Many people believe these images are cynical photo opportunities.

Still it does seem somewhat genuine sometimes, like when he cried after winning re-election last year.

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