Russia's popular and powerful prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has told French television he does nothing special to create the image of a strong leader and cannot imagine a cult of personality returning to the country.
"First, I just live and work as I can. I don't do or think up anything special. I do what I enjoy. You only live once and despite restrictions, which everyone has, you need to learn to enjoy it," Putin said in an interview with France 2 television and Agence France Presse ahead of his visit to France on Thursday and Friday.
Putin, who became Russia's prime minister after serving as president for eight years until 2008, remains the most popular politician in Russia.
He was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine in 2007 for leading Russia's resurgence on the global stage and was also called the world's most influential person by Vanity Fair magazine in 2008.
A survey by independent Russian pollster Levada Center published in May, said some 27% of Russians would vote for him at the 2012 presidential election. The pollster said 20% of Russians are ready to vote for Putin's successor Dmitry Medvedev, who became Russia's president in May 2008.
"Second, if we talk about a cult of personality, I think our citizens know and the Western spectator and listener must have heard, that a cult of personality doesn't just involve a focus on one person but also mass breaches of law, connected with repression," Putin said.
"Even in nightmares I couldn't imagine this ever happening in today's Russia because our society... is mature enough, I assure you, not to allow the processes of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s to develop again," the premier said.
In Russia, the cult of personality is a byword for the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his purges, which have been officially condemned. However, many Russians still view him as a great statesman.
MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)