Politics may not be top-of-mind among most young voters, but some are turning popular pastimes into political playgrounds, attracting attention from their peers.
Russia’s two main political figures have been set against an entirely different backdrop from the battlefield of top-level politics.
Young cartoonist Sergey Kalenik sees them battling it out in the fictional realm of The World of Warcraft.
“I cast Medvedev as an Orc. Putin plays the Troll. The personalities of the two leaders excellently match their Warcraft characters. Putin is tough and aggressive. Medvedev is calm, quiet and clever, he is brutal although he looks very much like an intellectual,” says Sergey.
The online fantasy role-play game is hugely popular in Russia, players here making up the lion’s share of the 10 million subscribers worldwide. Plenty of potential fans for the comic book adventures of the president and the PM.
There are not too many people who would take being depicted as one of these guys as a compliment, but the man at the top seems happy with his Orc persona.
“President Medvedev laughed sincerely when he saw my comic. I think he is going to read it to the end. Or he is going to give it to his son, who also plays Warcraft. I think he would be happy to learn that a comic starring his father has been made in Warcraft,” Sergey says.
From the gruesome to the glamorous, both Medvedev and Putin have drawn unusual fan groups in the past.
“Medvedev’s Girls” and “Putin’s Army”, both collectives of young attractive women, have made headlines around the world.
And one rally this summer literally stopped traffic in the Russian capital.
“Our main goal is to support Medvedev’s initiatives, and to inform the general public, especially young people, about them. Recently we attended a meeting with Medvedev, and our girls’ dream came true – we got to kiss our President,” says Alisa Meshcheryakova, the head of “Medvedev’s Girls”.
These groups have come under attack from some political experts, who say a lack of policy is being hidden behind pretty faces.
“These girls are one way of entertaining people. Obviously they do not raise serious political issues and they do not appeal to the intellect of the voters. But they keep them entertained,” David Satter from Johns Hopkins University says.
In response, the girls say they are sincere in their admiration for Russia’s political big guns.
“Unfortunately, people do not seem to believe that anyone could do something like that from their heart. We are working on breaking this stereotype, and hopefully we are succeeding in this work,” Alisa Meshcheryakova says.