Just hours after learning of his new post, Putin had finished planning his celebration. It would be unlike anything Russia had ever seen.
He told himself it was all part of the act, just one more necessary step in his grand plan, but deep, deep down, he felt almost giddy.
He flexed his new presidential muscle to make it happen, taking over the Bolshoi Theatre and flying in celebrities from around the world.
Putin drove himself to the big event, arriving fashionably late, of course. He swung left onto Teatralny Avenue, gunning the car’s engine.
He smiled as his tires squealed through the turn. The custom yellow metal-flake Lada muscle car was another perk of his presidency.
Van Halen’s classic “Atomic Punk” blasted from the stereo. Putin sang, “I am a victim of the science age/A child of the storm, whoa yes!”
He smiled as the theater came into view. Giant searchlights swept the sky, while red and blue fireworks burst overhead.
Putin skidded to a stop in front of the theatre and revved the Lada’s mighty 1.8-liter engine.
Through dark tinted windows and mirrored aviator sunglasses Putin cooly observed the adoring crowd surrounding him: Showtime.
The President swung open the car door like the new gunslinger in town entering the local saloon. Flashbulbs popped. A valet took his keys.
Putin strode down the red carpet, deftly tugging at his cuffs and straightening his tie. He waved to the crowd and entered the theatre.
As he neared the main hall, the lights dimmed and a sound like a siren filled the building. The timing was perfect.
Just as Putin entered through the center doors, the band on stage kicked into the 1978 smash hit, “Runnin’ With The Devil.”
Pyrotechnics exploded on either side of Putin and he pumped his fist in the air, bursting into a huge grin. The crowd loved it.
The next hours were a blur of shaking hands, dancing with diminutive blonde gymnasts, and posing for photos. It was repetitive, but fun.
Most guests were there from political or financial necessity—he’d paid dearly for some celebrities—but one he sincerely wanted to meet.
Finally, they came face to face. “Mr. President, it is an honor,” said the guest. “No Mr. Depardieu, the honor is mine,” Putin replied.
Putin loved French cinema, and was a huge fan of Gerard Depardieu’s work. That night, over several bottles of vodka, the two became friends.
“You speak Bear like a native,” Putin smiled. Depardieu looked shocked. “Bear?” he said, “No, no, I’m speaking Belgian!”
Putin leaned forward and noticed a number of cuts on Depardieu’s face. “Is your razor Belgian, too?” he asked. Depardieu chuckled nervously.
Suddenly, a rumble shook the theatre! Guests screamed, as a series of deafening explosions erupted above.