Page last updated at 07:08 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 08:08 UK

Putin 'turns into art instructor'

By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Moscow

Artist Ilya Glazunov (left) and Vladimir Putin in Moscow
Artist Ilya Glazunov agreed to put his painting right

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been raising eyebrows by telling one of the country's most famous artists how to paint better.

Visiting 79-year-old artist Ilya Glazunov, Mr Putin stopped in front of a large painting of a medieval knight.

"The sword is too short," he is reputed to have said. "It's only good enough for cutting sausage."

Not wishing to displease his powerful guest, Mr Glazunov immediately agreed to correct his mistake.

Oligarch humiliated

In North Korea, they call it "on the spot guidance".

It is when an all powerful-ruler drops by to give soldiers, scientists, farmers even artists advice on how to do their jobs properly.

However, it is not only artists that have been getting a tongue-lashing from Mr Putin.

Last week, he humiliated one of Russia's richest men on live television. He forced the billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska to reopen an aluminium plant after protests by laid-off workers.

As the cameras rolled, Mr Putin threw his pen on the table and ordered Mr Deripaska to sign the paperwork.

It was a brilliant piece of political theatre. The reaction of many Russians seems to have been delight that Mr Putin had brought one of Russia's hated oligarchs to heel.


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