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Home News Putin follows Obama talks with ‘biker summit’

Putin follows Obama talks with ‘biker summit’

Published on 09/07/2009

Moscow -- Having started the morning with two hours of crucial talks with US President Barack Obama, some might have expected Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to have spent the rest of the day in the office.

But not so for the increasingly multi-tasking Russian strongman, who spent the afternoon in casual dress visiting a Moscow motorbike club known as the "Night Wolves", television pictures showed.

Perhaps the transformation of Putin — whose varied activities over the last months have ranged from scolding oligarchs to singing Soviet-era songs at a school to touring a supermarket — should be no surprise by now.

But still, the contrast between the suited premier who met Obama for sensitive talks over a working breakfast and the black-clad bike enthusiast who surfaced later at the motorbike club was undeniably striking.

A giant pony-tailed Russian biker named Alexander Zaldostanov, who answers to the name of “the surgeon” and is reportedly a legend in Russian biking circles, received Putin.

The prime minister admitted a rare mishap when he said he recently got on a motorbike "but ended up doing a wheelie and going into another car. I let the clutch go too much."

"I hope that doesn’t put you off, it would be a shame if you gave up the motorbike and left it in a garage," boomed "the surgeon," towering over the diminutive Putin but reassuring him that this was a common mistake.

The biking enthusiasts were about to set off for a major bike festival in the Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea that will be dedicated to Russia’s Crimea-based Black Sea fleet and the victory over Nazi Germany.