U.S. State Department cables from Moscow, recently released by Wikileaks, suggested that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin "resents or resists the workload he carries" and rarely even bothers to show up at his office. But is there a chance Putin gave up on boring old governing because he has become, for lack of a better word, a celebrity? He has photo shoots that look like cigarette ads, hangs out with his pet tiger, adopts adorable puppies, and has male bonding trips with his buddy Leonardo DiCaprio.
So perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising that Putin, after a long week of not governing Russia, unwound on Friday by headlining a celebrity benefit concert. Like most such events, the St. Petersburg show may have been as much an excuse for big-name celebrities to party as it was about fundraising for children with cancer. But the international movie star attendees--Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Gerard Depardieu, Mickey Rourke, and others--were in for a very big surprise. Putin, in a moment so bizarre it seems unreal, got on stage to sing 1940s jazz standard "Blueberry Hill" in pretty passable English. Here's the video:
The New York Times' Robert Mackey suggests that this creepy and surreal performance could in fact be Putin's future:
The prime minister's performance came hours after the BBC reported that a Kremlin official said President Dimitri Medvedev might run for a second term in 2012, instead of handing the keys to the office back to Mr. Putin.
An observer of Russian politics who insisted on anonymity told Reuters after Mr. Putin's gig, "Medvedev will now have to learn to play saxophone."