National celebrations mark Vladimir Putin's birthday

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National celebrations mark Vladimir Putin's birthday

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Beautiful young girls gallop horses through grass swaying gently in the breeze on the Russian Steppes.

They are re-creating the stunts that have contributed to Vladimir Putin’s macho image, on the day of his 60th birthday.

Adoring supporters of the Russian President gathered outside the Kremlin to stage displays of his favourite sports.

But, while for some people Putin is a hero, for others he is a pensioner fit only for retirement.

Supporters of the recently-jailed punk group Pussy Riot also gathered to protest. A handful of anti-Kremlin activists were also detained for holding a “Lets send Grandpa into retirement” protest near Red Square.

Meanwhile, protestors also gathered to commemorate an unhappy event. Putin’s birthday is also the anniversary of the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

The campaigning journalist, who was investigating high-level corruption and alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya, was gunned down in the entrance of her Moscow apartment building in 2006.