Russia's economy may be struggling due to sanctions but Putin's popularity has never been higher. As Sonia Legg reports sweatshirts marking the President's birthday have been selling like hot cakes in Moscow.
The economy may be struggling but there's nothing slow about sales at this store in Moscow. It sells clothing and souvenirs featuring President Putin during various familiar escapades. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CUSTOMER, PAVEL, SAYING: "If you want you can put it on and everyone will see that you support what is happening in our country. It doesn't matter if you wear it here, abroad or elsewhere. In general it is cool. Why not?" (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) CUSTOMER, ALEXANDRA, SAYING: "All this needs to be done to add to people's morale, to unite people so that they feel solidarity." The man himself is well known for liking adventures - and he's off on another one. He's celebrating his 62nd birthday in Siberia - reportedly on his own. He says it's his first day off for ages - and if his approval rating is anything to go by it's well deserved. One survey suggests 86% of Russians support him, regardless of depths the economy is sinking to over Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MOSCOW RESIDENT, EDUARD, SAYING: "Vladimir Putin is a very good president. We are very happy with him. He reigns very well." (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) STUDENT, VERA, SAYING: "Many people are now against him. But I think he deserves some credit. Everyone wants everything at once. And I think things will happen gradually. And we will achieve a lot." But Putin's fans aren't the only ones spending - the central bank has reportedly spent $700 million of its $450 billion reserves propping up the rouble since May. Sarah Hewin is Senior Economist at Standard Chartered (SOUNDBITE) (English) STANDARD CHARTERED SENIOR ECONOMIST, SARAH HEWIN, SAYING: "Russia does have very substantial foreign reserves but it has been working it's way through them at quite a pace so they can't continue to support the rouble if it remains under pressure." The central bank says it has no plans to prevent capital flight. But simply talking about that possibility makes some investors nervous. Russia's economy can weather the storm for now. But many will be wondering whether Putin will spend his birthday switching off or plotting his next move.