Lingerie-clad students from Moscow's most renowned university have posed in an erotic calendar proclaiming their love for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who turns 58 on Thursday.
The calendar, called "Vladimir Vladimirovich, We love you. Happy Birthday Mr Putin," features twelve women wearing only underwear and pouting at the camera with saucy slogans.
The women are all named as journalism students at the Moscow State University and a spokeswoman for the faculty confirmed to AFP that the models study there.
Clad in a black lace negligee, Miss March, Lena Gornostayeva, wishes Putin a happy birthday with the message: "You put out the forest fires, but I'm still burning."
Journalism faculty spokeswoman Larisa Bakulina slammed the calendar as a "work of erotic tastelessness."
"We are not happy that they used the brand of the journalism faculty," she said. "It is tactless on the part of the publishers."
One of the creators of the calendar, Maxim Perlin, 22, a producer at a patriotic Internet televison channel, said that he put it together with a publisher, Vladimir Tabak.
The models posed for free, he told AFP, claiming the calendar had an empowering message.
"The idea of the calendar was to show girls who are not simply models who turn up for 100 dollars, but girls who have some political opinion, who have already achieved some success," he said.
Asked why the models were in underwear, he said: "In my opinion it's more beautiful and more interesting."
Fifty thousand copies of the calendar went on sale on Tuesday at Auchan hypermarkets, Perlin told AFP. "We hope it will have some commercial success."
On Wednesday a stack of the calendars, costing 260 rubles each (8.71 US dollars) was on sale at a hypermarket on Leninsky Prospekt in southern Moscow.
Perlin works for a pro-Kremlin channel called Russia.ru. Its creator Konstantin Rykov was behind a website called Zaputina.ru, or For Putin, which pushed for the leader to run for a third presidential term.