Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his 61st birthday on October 7 at the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group in Indonesia.
When Putin arrived at the summit venue, his fellow leaders greeted him with a hearty rendition of "Happy birthday to you."
Back home in Russia, the state All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion published its birthday gift in the form of a poll entitled "Vladimir Putin: Yesterday and Today
Seeming to prove the old adage that perfection knows no limits, the poll found that 65 percent of Russians agree Putin is "smarter, more far-seeing, and wiser" than he used to be. And 59 percent say that Putin -- who once famously said that he works "like a galley slave
" -- is now "doing more for the country and its people" than he did before.
And despite a steady drumbeat of allegations
from the opposition -- particularly, anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny -- about the lavish estates, foreign-property holdings, and plagiarized dissertations of Putin insiders -- 65 percent of respondents say Putin "has become more demanding of himself and those around him in matters of ethics, honesty, and respect for the law."
And finally, 67 percent of respondents agreed that Putin "has more influence in global politics" than he did previously.
In short, Putin 2.0 would seem to be a roaring success.
Which is not to imply that there aren't a tiny handful of malcontents out there. Moscow police on October 7 detained Mikhail Dvorkovich -- a founder of the New Deal business association and brother of economist Arkady Dvorkovich, who is Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's chief economics adviser.
Mikhail Dvorkovich and three comrades were detained
while trying to launch a balloon carrying a sign with Putin's portrait and the inscription: "Happy birthday, Ultralord!" Dvorkovich tweeted that he was detained for participating in "an unsanctioned picket."
And, finally, since there doesn't seem to be a particularly good birthday video going around yet this year, take a look at this one produced by pro-Kremlin youths last year to mark his 60th birthday:
-- Robert Coalson