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Putin's Commanding Photo Roles: Designed For A 2012 Election Bid? (PHOTOS)

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's camp released pictures of the politician riding horses, carrying a hunting rifle, fishing and fording mountain streams while trekking across Siberia, reports the Guardian. Unsurprisingly, the images brought out rampant speculation that Putin wished to cultivate "The athletic pursuits [that] will help the prime minister maintain the youthful image which will be vital to winning the country's 2012 elections if he decides to stand," said the Daily Mail.

Of course, Putin is no stranger to the rugged outdoorsmen persona, baring a solid torso on vacation in 2009. He's also hunted whales, sat in the pilot's seat, subdued a polar bear and, of course, engaged in judo, a favorite pastime. This may have been the cause of what appeared to be a black eye at a recent meeting in the Ukraine, which alternately sparked rumors that the prime minister had undergone plastic surgery. While he has caged about his electoral ambitions, the media blitz indicates that the popular politician has something to prove.

As a veritable one-man Village People, Putin has taken on many roles to show the Russian people his leadership chops. Here, a look back to discover which is the most commanding.

Putin's Most Commanding Characters
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UPDATE: This post originally referred to Putin as the president of Russia. He is the former president and current prime minister.

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