‘Putin’s babes’: the new face of Russian politics
Vladimir Putin has succeeded in 'sexing-up' the image of his United Russia party as a result of this month's parliamentary elections. Apparently frustrated with the lack of beautiful women in his party, the president has recruited Svetlana Zakharova, the principal ballerina of the Bolshoi, and no fewer than four former athletes turned topless models to become deputies in the Duma. The women, already known as 'Putin's babes' are:
• Svetlana Khorkina, 28, a feisty, blonde, seven-time Olympic medal winning gymnast. "It's very good to be sexy," says the newly-elected representative. "I posed naked for Russian Playboy when I was 17 or 18 and it was a great pleasure. Why not if you've got something to show? I will work as a part of Russia's strongest political team."
• Svetlana Zhurova, 35, an Olympic speed-skating champion, says she entered politics because "youth is our future". She poses topless, sometimes with her skates as props, for men's magazines.
• Natalia Karpovich, 35, a boxer and bodyguard before she entered politics, has posed wearing nothing but her boxing gloves.
• Alina Kabaeva, 24, a rhythmic gymnast known for her extreme flexibility, has appeared naked wrapped in fur.
• Svetlana Zakharova, 28, is considered to be one of the world's greatest ballerinas. "Everything about the Kremlin excites me," she says. "There is some mighty energy concentrated there, even the air is different."
Viktor Gribachev, a Russian political analyst and former press officer for the Russian parliament said: "We are definitely ahead of all in terms of ladies with sex appeal among our MPs. These young women are full of energy and eagerness to become serious law-makers."
Putin himself is no stranger to the topless photo opportunity. His popularity increased when he appeared shirtless in a series of pictures taken on a fishing trip in Siberia last summer. ·