Russia's Putin sings Armstrong for Hollywood stars
Russia's Vladimir Putin, showing his passion for music extends from favourites of spies and cosmonauts to Armstrong, played the grand piano for a room full of filmstars in a concert lasting into the wee hours of Saturday.
Guests to the late Friday charity concert in Saint Petersburg included Sharon Stone, Monica Bellucci, Mickey Rourke and other stars, the government said on its website, where the Russian prime minister was pictured sitting at a table with Italian actress Ornella Muti and several other people.
When the host asked if the prime minister would perform a number himself, Putin said: "Like the majority of people I cannot sing nor dance, but still love doing it," before going to the grand piano on the stage and playing a tune.
Putin famously sang the Soviet song "From Where the Motherland Begins" in July with the group of 10 spies who were deported from the United States in a major spy swap. This time he gave a wordless rudimentary piano performance of the song.
He then took the microphone and roused the audience from their seats with Louis Armstrong's "Blueberry Hill" sung in broken English with some piano accompaniment by the jazz band.
French actor Gerard Depardieu read a famous poem by Russia's celebrated Sergei Yesenin, albeit in French, and Sharon Stone did a dance number alongside a singing Paul Anka.
Television footage also showed the concert's crescendo finale where Putin and the glamorous crowd joined the Russian band Zemlyane (Earthlings) to sing their 80s hit song "Grass Near My Home", a favorite of Russian cosmonauts that is traditionally played at Baikonur cosmodrome before blast-off.
The group then went to the Russian Museum for an exclusive after-midnight visit.
Putin regularly mingles with celebrities, most recently meeting Leonardo DiCaprio in Saint Petersburg at a forum to protect wild tigers. The two later had tea where DiCaprio said he was half-Russian.
© 2010 AFP