Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin was subjected to an unprecedented chorus of boos when he appeared in the ring after a mixed martial arts fight Sunday night.
The tough-guy premier, who is poised to return to the Russian presidency, was jeered loudly after stepping into the ring and congratulating Russian heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko on his hard-fought victory.
The start of his speech was drowned out by boos, and the crowd only started to cheer when he praised Emelianenko as a "real Russian hero," AFP reported.
Fight-fan Putin has long portrayed himself as macho man through a series of well-managed publicity stunts, such as riding and hunting. But this appearance backfired and was seen as a rare moment of public protest against Putin, who could rule Russia for another 12 years.
Mikhail Moskalyov, the director of the Olimpiisky stadium, which hosted the fight, told the Lenta.ru news website that the audience was reacting as the defeated opponent, American Jeff Monson, left the ring.