Why Does Vladimir Putin Walk With So Much Swagger? Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under scrutiny recently, but not for the reasons you may suspect. As NPR's Scott Simon notes, this time it's for his unusual gait.

Why Does Vladimir Putin Walk With So Much Swagger?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/460379079/460379080" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Why does Vladimir Putin walk with that signature strut? The study in the current British Medical Journal says Russia's leader walks with what they diagnose as gunslinger's gait, like the marshal in "High Noon."

Researchers say the Putin perambulation isn't swagger over Russian soldiers in Ukraine or Syria but the result of KGB training. Mr. Putin was lieutenant colonel in the KGB before the Soviet Union collapsed. The researchers consulted an old KGB training manual and say KGB operatives who were instructed to keep their weapon in their right hand close to their chest and to move forward with one side, usually the left, presumably allowing its subjects to draw the gun as quickly as possible when confronted with a foe. They call it a behavioral adaptation resulting from military or intelligence training. Or the stinted swing of President Putin's right arm could be that he just likes to keep it free to send little smiley face emojis to his friends. Aw.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.