'Married, male, 58': Census records Putin and wife
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been counted in Russia's census in an extremely rare conjugal appearance with his wife, with Russian media not daring to guess the motives for the show of marital unity.
The encounter between the Putins and the young census-taker has been exhaustively shown in Russian state media and was immediately the subject of much light-hearted amusement.
In a scene of domestic bliss, Putin was shown sitting next to his wife Lyudmila on a sofa at his out-of-town residence at Novo Ogaryovo, with the two wearing almost matching beige clothes and his labrador Koni lounging behind him.
"Your gender?" asked the interviewer, a young brunette named Yevgenia. "Male..." responded the macho Russian strongman, failing to suppress his laughter.
"Your name?" asked Yevgenia. "Putin Vladimir Vladimirovich," said the prime minister, also giving his birth date of October 7, 1952.
The Kommersant daily, known for its microscopic coverage of Putin's antics, dryly noted: "She was, at that moment, the only person in the country to whom this question could have occurred."
Lyudmila Putina has rarely been seen in public since her husband left the Kremlin in May 2008 and became prime minister. Her last recorded public appearance with Putin dates back to 2009.
"Your marital status?" the interviewer asked Putin. "Married," came the one-word answer.
Lyudmila Putina then gave similar answers to her husband, describing herself as a "housewife" and when asked if she had been seeking work recently replied: "The thought has not occurred to me."
"The interview finally came to an end and the census-taker sweetly bade farewell to the couple," said Kommersant.
But despite massive media coverage of the stunt, Russian newspapers and television shied away from questioning its motives or the sudden reappearance of Putin's wife.
This is despite the fact the country is at a hugely sensitive political moment ahead of 2012 presidential elections with every movement of its leaders scrutinised by public and analysts alike.
But the private lives of its leaders are off limits in the country and the children of Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev have never been officially photographed in recent years.
© 2010 AFP