Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has not publicly cultivated the macho public image
of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, but when it comes to dance-floor grooving, the president has the public’s undivided attention.
Medvedev first leaped to disco fame in April when a video shot on a mobile phone at a university reunion and posted on the Internet captured the president boogying in a blue suit (above) to “American Boy,” the post-Soviet pop anthem.
The president’s swinging hips, bobbing shoulders, and robotic dance rhythm won the video hundreds of thousands of hits overnight.
Medvedev’s dancing has attained almost cult status as the country approaches its next presidential election in March 2012.
In May, dozens of Russians organized a flash mob near the Kremlin, where they danced to “American Boy” in a synchronized impersonation of their president, who counts the "reset" with the United States as one his major achievements:
A Russian comedy act subsequently mimicked Medvedev’s spastic dancing and entered a pre-recorded video of their performance in a state television competition on Channel One.
They won first prize for their humorous interpretation and reworking of Medvedev’s bob-and-strut. Their video has received more than 1 million hits in the last few days:
Channel One editors were, however, less amused, and the parody of the president dancing was mysteriously edited out of the state television show.
"The president has no problem with people impersonating him,” the BBC quoted a Kremlin spokesperson as saying.
Channel One editors have not commented.
Tension is rising in state structures with the approach of State Duma elections in December and the presidential election three months later, since it's still unclear which member of Russia’s ruling tandem -- Medvedev or Putin -- will run in March 2012.
Some YouTube users made their personal preference clear when they changed the backing music in the original Medvedev clip to “I Want Someone Like Putin,” a pop song adulating the powerful prime minister:
Medvedev’s critics say he has never fully emerged from the shadow of his predecessor.
It was unclear whether Medvedev showcased any new dance moves during his 46th birthday celebrations on September 14.
-- Tom Balmforth