Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a picture pretending to give Yevgeny Savchenko, Governor of Belgorod, an oral hygiene check at a dentistry center during a campaign visit.
Vladimir Putin, 59, was in the region glad-handing as part of his campaign for a third term as president in 2012.
Russian PM also visited a municipal district ambulance, a local hospital, a school of arts and a community centre.
It was an auspicious day for Vladimir Putin, who was also announced today as China’s Peacemaker of the Year.
The unlikely recipient of the Beijing’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A panel of 16 academics chose Vladimir Putin ahead of other candidates, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist.
The tipping point appeared to be Vladimir Putin’s role in Libya, where he opposed NATO’s involvement in trying to topple the Gaddafi regime. Critics say Vladimir Putin’s stand had no bearing on the outcome of the north African conflict.
“This April or May, Putin was against NATO’s idea to bomb Libya and he appeared to the world in a peaceful manner,” said Qiao Damo, one of the organizers.
The “Confucius Peace Prize” is as controversial as its choice of honouree.
It was only launched last year, just two days after jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel prize to Beijing’s anger.
The thinly-veiled attempt to upstage the Nobel ended in farce when last year’s winner, Taiwan’s former vice president Lien Chan, failed to show up and the $15,000 award was collected for him by a schoolgirl.
It was unclear last night whether Vladimir Putin was even aware that he had won the award, but organizers are planning to hold the presentation on December 9, the day before the Nobel prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
Even the Chinese government was uncomfortable at the transparency of the attempt to undermine the long established peace award. The Culture Ministry ordered organizers to scrap the award in September, saying they were not given official permission to go ahead.
But the panel defied the decision, arguing it was “unreasonable” to cancel the prize at such late notice. Nine of the 16 judges voted for Vladimir Putin.
“I feel the Nobel Peace Prize has gone too far away from peace and their standard has gone too far away from the essence of peace,” said Qiao Damo.
“Western values are not perfect and need an alternative to balkance them out,” he added.