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Stopping a pencil from rolling off a table might not seem like an impressive feat, but try telling that to Russian state broadcasters.
Vladimir Putin caught the runaway writing implement during a virtual meeting over the weekend, a moment that earned the admiration of TV hosts.
"His reactions were wonderful and he is clearly in great shape — his martial arts skills have not left him," host Vladimir Solovyov remarked while presenting the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin. programme on Sunday.
Solovyov then asked his guest if he had ever attempted such a move, to which the man answered he had not.
"Pavel, you need to exercise as much as you can," Solovyov replied, continuing to marvel at Putin's athleticism.
The programme, first launched in 2018, has faced accusations of fawning coverage of the Russian leader in the past.
Its hosts have previously praised the 68-year-old's physique, even joking that bears are afraid of the man.
Putin has embraced his reputation as both a physical and political strongman, posing for photos while riding a horse bare-chested and swimming in freezing cold Russian lakes.
He also has a black belt in judo, and has been sure to have his martial arts skills filmed as well.
However other members of the Russian population weren't so charmed by his pencil-grabbing ability, and the clip from Moscow. Kremlin. Putin. was circulated online to much mockery.
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"If Putin hadn't caught that pencil, it would have been caught by a NATO soldier," one Twitter user suggested.
Blogger Oleg Kozyrev said: "Even the pencil wanted to get away from Putin."
The president, who has been in power since the final day of the 20th century, still enjoys majority support among Russians but he's least popular among young people.
The percentage of those aged 18 to 24 who say they don't back Putin grew from 31% to 46% last year.
Recent protests over the detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was reportedly moved to a detention camp this week, also likely damaged Putin's favourability.
Last year he pushed through constitutional amendments giving him the unprecedented ability to remain in power until 2036, by which time he will be 83.
- Vladimir Putin
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