When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
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)

Photo - World Economic Forum

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

photo of Senegal President Macky Sall coming out of his airplane

President of Senegal Macky Sall arrives Monday at Andrews Air Force Base for the U.S.-Africa summit. Md., Dec. 12, 2022.

U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Isabelle Churchill
Alex Hurst

-Analysis-

Some 100 of the most important political eyes in Africa aren’t turned towards the U.S. this week — they’re in the U.S. For the first time in eight years, the White House is hosting 49 African heads of state and leaders of government (and the Senegalese head of the African Union) for a U.S.-Africa summit. Not invited: any nation that has recently undergone a military putsch, or otherwise not in good standing with the African Union, like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Sudan.

It’s only the second such summit, after Barack Obama held the inaugural one in 2014. For African nations, it’s a chance to push for trade agreements and international investment, as reports FinancialAfrik, as well as to showcase their most successful businesses. According to RFI, dominant in its coverage of West Africa, on the agenda are: fighting terrorism, climate change, food security, and a financial facility intended to facilitate African exports to the U.S.

These themes are recurrent in national coverage and official diplomatic communiqués, from the likes of Cameroon (whose communiqué pointedly notes the U.S.’s “lack of colonial history” in Africa), which is seeking to regain access to the the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, to Madagascar, which as an island nation, is particularly concerned with climate change.

To receive Eyes on U.S. each week in your inbox, sign up here.

But is the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the accompanying nice talk all just cynical cover for what are, in fact, purely U.S. strategic interests in its wider global competition with China? That’s certainly the message from Chinese media — but also a point of view either echoed, or simply acknowledged as matter of fact, by African voices.

“No matter how many fancy words the U.S. uses, the country still sees Africa as an arena to serve its strategic goal of competing with China,” Liu Xin writes for China’s state-run Global Times.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest