Whether Russians are staging pro-Putin rallies (with some state-paid or dependent workers claiming they were promised time off for attendance) or anti-Putin protests in the face of the forthcoming Russian presidential elections, their prime minister, Vladimir Putin, remains a controversial figure in his home country and to the world at large. But one point almost everyone, even Mikhail Gorbachev, could agree with:
Putin must love puppies.
In 2010, a bit of a kerfuffle was stirred up when Putin asked for help in naming the Karakachan puppy he was presented by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. But the ex-KGB boss-puppy love story goes beyond that; check out the photos below to see Putin throughout his years -- as both president and prime minister -- cozying up with four-legged friends.