Vladimir Putin was sent to Russia by God to help it deal with its troubles in the early post-Soviet era, the Kremlin's top political adviser was quoted as saying on Friday.
"To be honest, I think of Putin as a person who was sent to Russia by fate and the Almighty at a difficult hour," Interfax quoted first deputy administration chief Vladislav Surkov as telling Chechen television.
Surkov serves in the administration of President Dmitry Medvedev. But he has worked there since just before Putin first entered the Kremlin for a two-year term as president in 2000 and is widely seen as one of his closest allies.
Putin now serves as prime minister and neither he nor Medvedev have said which of them will run in presidential elections scheduled for March.
But Putin has remained the country's most popular politician and has been forced to deal with at times peculiar signs of appreciations from his fans and political supporters.
The Russian media in May reported that a small female sect believes Putin is the reincarnation of Paul the Apostle.
Putin has been made the hero of pop songs and brands of vodka and even a Moscow night club party.