Putin strips for 'judo injury treatment'
It's summer, so it must be time for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to take his shirt off.
And any Russians disappointed that Putin had not been photographed this holiday season riding bare-chested on a horse or fishing would have been happy to have seen state television pictures of him visiting a provincial doctor.
Putin stripped to the waist in a heavily-mediatised consultation with the doctor in the Smolensk region of western Russia for treatment for an injury he had sustained while warming up for a session in his favourite sport, judo.
The Russian hardman said he had then exacerbated the injury by ploughing on with training and working out in the gym.
"I've strained my shoulder? Can you take a look?" Putin asked the doctor, in comments published on his official website. "Of course we will take a look now," the man replied.
The doctor prodded Putin's shoulder a couple of times before prescribing a cream to help the recovery. Putin then went on to chair a day of meetings in the Smolensk region.
The episode appeared another attempt by the prime minister to impress Russians with his virility ahead of parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections in March.
It is still unclear whether Putin will seek to return to the Kremlin or if the man who succeeded him as president, Dmitry Medvedev, will choose to run again.
The stunt also sought to show Russians their much-derided health system was working.
"People in the depths of Russia can now live happily in the knowledge that even Vladimir Putin is not scared of putting himself into the hands of provincial doctors," wrote the Kommersant daily.
© 2011 AFP