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The Return Of The King


President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting in the Kremlin on December 13.

President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting in the Kremlin on December 13.

Maybe it was the rumors about his health. Maybe it was the poor reviews his big speech to parliament received last week. Or maybe he just wants to end the year with a bang.

But whatever the reason, the Kremlin has clearly decided to play up President Vladimir Putin's December 20 press conference in a very big way.

From the dramatic voice over and Hollywood-style background music, to the classic action-hero shots from the Putin archives, the message in trailers on Russia's state-controlled television channels announcing the big event seems clear: the old hard guy is back with a vengeance. Or so we should believe.

WATCH FOR YOURSELF HERE:



AND HERE:



In addition to emphasizing the Kremlin leader's physical vitality, the trailers also highlight the recent anticorruption campaign -- and make a point of splicing in a clip of Putin announcing the sacking of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. (Significantly, this comes shortly after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a point of defending Serdyukov in his television interview earlier this month.)

Putin's image makers and political advisers have clearly decided to raise expectations for the annual event. What is not clear yet is why. Is this part of Putin's anticipated image makeover? Is the government shake-up the press has been speculating about for months finally coming? Or will it fall flat just like his speech to parliament did last week?

We'll know in a couple of days.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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