Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined a biker gang on Monday and led them on motorcade at a festival in Novorossiysk, a Black Sea port.
Vladimir Putin, 58, was riding a three-wheeled Harley Davidson and looking very much at home in the latest of macho stunts that have punctuated his political career.
It is well known that Putin’s eccentric photos topless horse-riding and hunting have earned him the nickname “Alpha Dog” in U.S. diplomatic circles.
After riding around for a while, black-clad Vladimir Putin boarded a Soviet-era warship in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, where the prime minister took part to a festival that mark the city’s liberation during the Second World War.
During his speech at the festival, Putin called the bikers his “brothers”:
“I want to talk to you, brothers. It is cool that you do not forget the heroes of the past.
“Boys, girls you are great. Not only are you having fun while riding your bikes but you are also combining it with patriotic deeds.”
Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, intends to secure a 2/3 majority in December’s elections for the Duma lower house of parliament.
The 2/3 majority would give United Russia the power to change the constitution.
It seems campaigning began for real on Monday, after President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree setting the date for the poll as December 4.
The Russian elections from next December will also set the scene for a presidential poll in March 2012.
Nor prime minister Vladimir Putin or president Dmitry Medvedev have said who will run for the presidential race.
At Novorossiysk motorcade, Putin rode along “Night Wolves” biker club members with the hard-rock club anthem in the background.
“Night Wolves” club leader is Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed “Surgeon”, one of Vladimir Putin’s friends.
During his participation at the festival, Vladimir Putin was flanked by veterans of World War Two and the conflicts in former Yugoslavia.