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Today Is Putin's Birthday And In Russia There Was Much Rejoicing

What do you get the man who controls everything? "Judging by our president's build, he's in great health and plans to captain the ship for a long time."

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Russian President Vladimir Putin turned 62 on Tuesday and took the day off. This was his first day off on his birthday since coming to power nearly 15 years ago, state media pointed out.

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The biggest festivites were thousands of miles away, in Chechnya. Strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov organized a giant parade in the shape of a Russian flag.

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Police said 100,000 people attended, according to state media. Kadyrov claimed this broke a world record.

The Siberian town of Tolmachevo celebrated more modestly.

People stood in line for over two hours at a Moscow department store to buy Putin T-shirts.

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This Expendables job could be yours for just 1,200 rubles ($30).

Most of Putin's celebrity well-wishers were athletes. Olympic pole-vaulting champion Elena Isinbayeva posted a photo of herself wearing one of the T-shirts.

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Infamously profligate soccer star Alexander Kerzhakov also posted a message.

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The preponderance of athletes isn't a coincidence. After Putin castrated Russia's parliament in 2004, many former Olympians went into politics for his ruling party alongside actors, musicians, and other celebrities.

Some messages were just obsequious, like this one from TV personality Tina Kandelaki.

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"Putin has all the essential qualities and characteristics to captain a ship the size of our continent. Judging by our president's build, he's in great health and plans to captain the ship for a long time."

"I think we got lucky," cheesy pro-Putin pop singer Oleg Gazmanov wrote in a post of an old picture with Putin. "A powerful and reliable leader appeared in a difficult period for Russia."

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This children's choir from Putin's native St. Petersburg sang a tribute that depicts Putin as a benevolent, quasi-mystical figure: "Let him rule for many more years, like before."

View this video on YouTube

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Nikolai Drodzov, Russia's equivalent of David Attenborough, gave Putin a stuffed Siberian tiger.

View this video on YouTube

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Putin once saved a TV crew from attack by a tiger. He later admitted it was a publicity stunt.

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And here he is taming the Cretan (or Crimean) bull.

In honor of Putin's bday, exhibit comparing his feats to Hercules. Here he tames the Cretan bull i.e. annexes Crimea

Alec Luhn@ASLuhnFollow

In honor of Putin's bday, exhibit comparing his feats to Hercules. Here he tames the Cretan bull i.e. annexes Crimea

4:52 PM - 06 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

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Tributes flooded in on social media. Some of them were retro.

С днем рождения, Владимир Владимирович!

Very retro.

С днем рождения, дорогой наш ВВП!

This is from a pro-Kremlin parody account that depicts the anti-Putin opposition as jihadis from Chechnya and Dagestan.

Поздравляем султана Валимира ибн-Валимира аль-Путини с днем рождения!

?///????@tvjihadFollow

??????????? ??????? ???????? ???-???????? ???-?????? ? ???? ????????!

9:10 AM - 07 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Not everyone was so complimentary. This tweet from a popular blog network that creates many of Russia's memes refers to the rapid devaluation of the ruble. "The dollar's 40, the euro's 50, and Putin's 62. Happy birthday!"

Доллар — 40 Евро — 50 Путин — 62 С днем Рождения!

?????@leprasoriumFollow

?????? — 40

???? — 50

????? — 62

? ???? ????????!

8:25 AM - 07 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

But there was no mistaking who's No. 1.

С Днем Рождения наш ЛИДЕР!

Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71

Contact Max Seddon at max.seddon@buzzfeed.com.

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