by Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung*
Vladimir Putin’s foray into the ring to congratulate the winner of a mixed martial arts match the week before last provided ordinary Russians with an extraordinary view of their country’s paramount leader. The live national television broadcast captured emphatic booing by the crowd of 20,000 that was clearly directed at Putin, who has made management of his image a top priority. Things quickly returned to normal, however, at least by the standards of state-dominated mass media in Russia. By the following day, Kremlin-controlled television stations had sanitized their coverage of the event, cleansing it of any heckling aimed at Putin.