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Putin settles into Yeltsin’s shoes, wobbles a lot

[Edition 20] MOSCOW, Tuesday: The new President of Russia has made good his promise of being a “strong leader in the traditional Russian mould” by downing three bottles of vodka and speaking incoherently to foreign diplomats.

[Edition 20] MOSCOW, Tuesday: Russia has a new President this week after the formal swearing in of President-Elect Vladimir Putin. In his inauguration speech at the Kremlin on Thursday, Mr Putin said he would “be a strong leader in the traditional Russian mould”.

At the official dinner to celebrate his inauguration, the new President immediately started making good this promise by downing three bottles of vodka and speaking incoherently to foreign diplomats. He also drunkenly conducted an oompah band to the delight of the world’s media, much to the delight of Fox’s The World’s Funniest Russian President Videos programme, which had been unsure of its future before Putin’s election.

Mr Putin, 46, has a black-belt in karate and has been renowned for his physical fitness, but since taking office has been administered large volumes of lard intravenously in order to precipitate the chronic heart condition traditionally associated with the top Russian job.

The new President impressed international observers yesterday by appointing a new Cabinet of young pro-reform Ministers. The new Ministry appeared to function effectively in its first day of office but was sacked by Mr Putin earlier today “because he felt like it”.

As Russia’s first democratically-elected President, Yeltsin’s body will be preserved in Red Square after his imminent death, and his corpse will be placed alongside Lenin’s within the communist leader’s mausoleum. The ex-President has been preparing for the honour for several years, and is well advanced in the process of pickling himself.