1. ITV Report

Vladimir Putin is the pin-up of choice for Japanese calendar shoppers

This shot of President Putin bathing in ice cold water features in the calendar. Credit: Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Calendars featuring Hollywood actors, singing stars and cute animals are often a popular choice at this time of year for shoppers looking for a Christmas gift.

But 12 pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin probably doesn't immediately spring to mind as the perfect present for under the tree.

It has emerged, however, that he is the pin-up of choice for many Japanese shoppers looking for a 2019 calendar.

The Russian president's offering is reportedly the top-selling calendar at chain store Loft and in greater demand than those of Japanese celebrities.

Known for his public displays of machismo, the 66-year-old's calendar features shots of him taking a dip in the icy waters of Lake Seliger, playing ice hockey and wrestling with dogs in the snow.

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According to Japanese media, since Loft began selling the calendar in September, Putin's sales have outperformed those from the likes of actor Kei Tanaka and Olympian Yuzuru Hanyu.

It is thought young women who are fascinated by the Russian leader are largely responsible for its popularity.

Loft have sold the Putin calendars for a number of years and they often feature his physical exploits, including judo and topless fishing.

The calendar's popularity comes despite Putin's controversial image on the international stage, with accusations of election meddling, claims the Kremlin was behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury and the ongoing conflict in Syria leaving relations between Russia and the West at a low point.