Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may be best known for his harsh comments and policies, but it turns out that -- with apologies to ABBA -- he has a talent for a wonderful thing, 'cause everyone listens when he starts to sing. The happy entertainer behind Putin's icy shell finally came out on December 10 at a charity fund-raiser in St. Petersburg. First making a ham-handed intro on a grand piano, Putin then performed “Blueberry Hill” in English to a clapping world celebrity audience that included Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner and Goldie Hawn. Aided by a band and back-up singers, a gesticulating Putin, sporting an accent that makes Borat Sagdiyev sound mild, went full out, rasping into a microphone about love's sweet melody and how " all of those vows we made were never to be." It comes as little surprise the Putin’s act received perhaps the most critical reviews from Russia’s neighbor, Georgia -- a country with a keen sensitivity to music that already knows something about Russian officials and broken vows.
“Why did nobody stop this?” read one post in a long list of comments in an online forum. “Could not at least Sharon Stone go up to him, smack him in the face and grit through her teeth: ‘Stop this, now!’” One Georgian blogger pled with Putin's archival, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, to spare his country any similar embarrassment and never do the same. “Please, do not do that, Mr. President,” he begged. Saakashvili, who is also hip to the entertainment scene, has accused Putin of trying to mimic his own mojo. In a rivalry that biologists would term sperm competition, both men have piloted planes, driven race cars and changed constitutions to enhance the prime minister’s powers. Could a sing-off be next? The blogger's request aside, it might make life easier in this part of the world.