Vladimir Putin is now a reality TV star in 'Moscow. Kremlin. Putin'
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Vladimir Putin is now a reality TV star in 'Moscow. Kremlin. Putin'

Moscow: Vladimir Putin can add a new skill to his resume: reality TV star.

A new series launched on state television on Sunday evening, focusing on the Russian leader's weekly activities. The one-hour show, called "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin," comes as Putin suffers one of his largest dips in popularity for years.

While Putin appears almost daily on state television, a show of this type is uncharted territory for the leader.

Putin is shown speaking to gifted teenagers about the inner workings of diplomacy in the program and also attending the funeral of beloved crooner Iosif Kobzon, the Russian "Frank Sinatra" who died last week at age 80.

Viewers were also treated to never-seen-before footage of Putin's vacation last month to Siberia. The 65-year-old leader is shown puffing up a mountain with a hiking staff, collecting wild berries in his chest pocket and watching wildlife as he mutters under his breath, "they're not afraid of us".

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Vladimir Putin in the Siberian Tyva region of Russia in his new weekly program "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin".

Vladimir Putin in the Siberian Tyva region of Russia in his new weekly program "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin".

Photo: AP

The show, on the Rossiya 1 channel, comes days before tens of thousands of Russians are expected to protest across the country at the Kremlin's deeply unpopular pension restructuring. Putin succumbed to rare public pressure last week when he partially revised the pension overhaul in an unusual televised address to the nation.

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The concession exposed potential cracks in the foundations of Putin's popularity, at a time when Western sanctions, imposed over election interference and the Ukraine crisis, have hit the Russian economy hard.

Putin's approval ratings dropped to 67 per cent in July from 79 per cent in May, according to the independent Levada Center. Almost 90 per cent of Russians opposed the pension overhaul, the pollster found, and opposition politicians seized on the plan to galvanise their supporters.

On Monday, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasised that the new show was entirely the creation of the channel, which is controlled by the Kremlin, and that it represented a "balanced" view.

Peskov also sought to calm viewers' fears about Putin's safety in the wild. "Do you think the bear is an idiot? If he sees Putin, of course he's going to mind his manners."

This is not the first time a Russian official has starred in a reality TV show. Two years ago the strongman leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, launched "The Team," a knock-off version of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice."

Washington Post