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Boohoo. Crimea River.

That’s what Vladimir Putin says when the rest of the world whines about what a bad man he is for seizing part of a neighboring nation.

Now basking — often topless — in the glare of the international spotlight, the Russian tough guy has gone from someone most Americans rarely thought about to a man who grabs nearly as many headlines as the Kardashians.

In the past week, he has been universally condemned by voices that believe in national sovereignty and the rule of law, mocked by yours truly (Putin is Fabio without the hair and the ravishing woman) and, of course, praised on Fox News (their narrative: Putin, strong; Obama, weak).

Through it all, the man who seems so hyper-focused on his macho self-image insists that taking over the Crimean peninsula had nothing to with validating his own masculinity or some weird case of peninsula envy.

Now there is rampant speculation that he may try to invade more of Ukraine, or even move on to Georgia. (The mayor of Atlanta could not be reached for comment.)

And though the U.S. has imposed economic sanctions aimed at crippling Putin’s ability to import his favorite chest wax and male enhancement products, the man who brought us the wacky Winter Olympics at Sochi is still ranked by Forbes as the most powerful person in the world.

(Obama clocks in at No. 2; not to brag, but this year I climbed two notches to number 7.151 billion.)

But just who is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin?

Born Oct. 7, 1952, in Leningrad to Maria Shelomova and Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, little Vlad grew up as “an average, normal person,” he recalls in his official Kremlin biography, subsisting largely on cabbage soup and boiled Ukrainian dissidents.

Vladimir has been rocking the shirtless look since boyhood, as seen in this photo from his personal archives.

From grades 1-8, Putin attended School No. 193, where he confesses in the official bio that he was a bit of a “troublemaker.”

According to his unofficial bio, he once got detention for seizing another boy’s vodka money and, when the terrified lad tattled, for threatening to send him and his family to Siberia.

But, as he says in his bio, “It became clear that street smarts were not enough, so I began doing sports.”

Young Vladimir soon developed a passion for judo that triggered his ultimate transformation from 98-pound weakling into ruthless Kremlin strongman.

“But even that was not enough for maintaining my status,” he continues. “I realized that I also needed to study well.”

His newfound focus on academics was immediately apparent when he enrolled at the elite private high school Kalashnikov Prep, where one instructor recalled, “By the time Vladimir reached ninth grade he was already hating America at a 12th-grade level.”

Putin went on to be voted Class Despot and was named Most Likely to Draw Global Condemnation by Stealing Another Country’s Land.

As a freshman at Leningrad State in 1970, he pledged the secretive Kappa Gamma Beta fraternity. Known for their wild toga parties, the boys of KGB amused themselves by using makeshift periscopes, secret cameras and advanced infrared satellite technology to snoop on cute sorority devotchkas.

And yet Putin also distinguished himself academically, graduating with a triple major in the Inhumanities, Totalitarian Studies and Geopolitical Engineering.

Long story short, after college he went to work for the other KGB, Russia’s notorious spy organization, then segued into politics, becoming president in 2000.

In 2001, he met then-U.S. President George W. Bush, who assured Americans that Putin was not to be feared with his actual and widely ridiculed observation, “I looked in his eyes and saw his soul.”

Since then Putin has been ruling Russia with an iron face — by most accounts presiding over a modern-day oasis of corruption, generously controlling the media and offering free prison housing to those active in Russia’s gay community.

Now, his most recent antics have sparked worldwide curiosity about the dictator whose carefully crafted media image is dominated by photos of him posing bare-chested in a variety of macho settings (riding horses, fishing and fondling firearms).
As a freshman at Leningrad State in 1970, topless Vladimir pledged the secretive Kappa Gamma Beta (KGB).

As a freshman at Leningrad State in 1970, topless Vladimir pledged the secretive Kappa Gamma Beta (KGB).

However, the man behind the alpha male exhibitionist is a more sensitive soul, according to those who are paid to say nice things about him or face exile and imprisonment.

He reportedly dotes on his pet pit bull, Sputnik, and has a soft spot for his longtime gerbil, Mr. Rasputin.

Insiders say Putin is passionate about romance novels (his favorites are said to include “Lust in the Crimea,” “Under the Ukrainian Sun” and “50 Shades of Red”) and that he secretly yearns to emulate his idol, the chiseled book cover beefcake Fabio.

Unreliable sources say a typical day begins with an intensive grooming and fitness regimen that involves having a manservant pluck unwanted hairs from the presidential chest and other routine maintenance, followed by 45 minutes of flexing in the mirror while practicing his “You talkin’ to me?” faces.

Most days, he spends part of the morning black-belting hapless judo partners who are paid to let him win, then winds down by playing Call of Duty war games on his Sochi PlayStation.

But Putin is said to be equally focused on the demands of the Russian presidency, reportedly devoting at least several hours a day to plotting the destruction of western civilization while grooving to the musical stylings of Barry Manilow.

Along with former President Bush, those testifying to Putin’s character include his longtime friend and finance minister, Barney Ruble.

“Vladimir is a great guy, I swear, who rarely threatens to rip my lungs out and banish me to a Siberian gulag,” he said, describing Putin as “a kind and fair tyrant, who never allows respect for human life to stand in the way of his refreshingly ruthless ideology.”

– John Breneman

This piece works better with the photos obviously but I wasn't sure how to post them here.

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