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Russia

Cult Of Putin: Russia Leader Now Literally Worshipped As Second Coming of St. Paul

As Putin stays mum on his intentions to run for a new term as president, supporters are growing increasingly vocal. And bizarre.

Before taking on the position of prime minister, Vladimir Putin was Russia's president
Before taking on the position of prime minister, Vladimir Putin was Russia's president

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

MOSCOW - The cult of personality spawning around Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken a biblical turn. In the region of Nijni Novgorod, 400 kilometers east of Moscow, the still powerful former president is now being worshipped by a sect that sees him as the reincarnation of the apostle Saint Paul.

In the Bible, Paul was a military chief who persecuted Christians before preaching the gospel. Putin, who worked for the KGB before becoming the righteous Russian president, has had a similar career trajectory, the supporters say. Even inside the Kremlin, Putin is considered a holy figure "sent by God to Russia in these difficult times," according to Vladislav Surkov, first deputy chief of staff of the president of the Russian Federation. This supposed saint-like status comes as speculation swirls that he will run for a new term as president.

This cult dedicated to Putin has no limits, high or low: food and vodka are branded with his name. In the most attention-grabbling twist of all, a group of female students have created an army of supporters named "Armia Putina," which now features a video clip of one of the students tearing off her shirt in front of the camera. She calls on every "beautiful and clever" girl to do the same in support of the prime minister.

Some Russian political analysts take a dim view of this female army. To Constantin Kojevnikov, the video clip is "vulgar." He says: "The viewers are encouraged to develop a political opinion but all the clip does is to show them a pair of boobs." For others, this operation is mainly a public relations exercise launched by Putin youth organizations, and secretly financed by the Kremlin.

Read full story in French by Marie Jego (subscription may be required)

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

Keep reading...Show less

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