Russian leader dances to “American Boy”

Laura Rozen

A video of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev getting down to the 1990s Russian pop hit "American Boy" (sadly, not the Estelle/Kayne version with which most American viewers are familiar) has gone viral since being posted to YouTube Tuesday:

"Sporting a form-fitting silver jacket ... Medvedev somewhat awkwardly wiggles his hips and kicks up his heels with other party guests in the half-minute clip posted late Tuesday," Reuters reported, noting one commenter's review of the Russian leader's restrained performance: "It looks like Medvedev's swallowed a stick."

Undeterred by the judges, the dancing machine himself was quick to claim his moves: "We're rocking out last year at a reunion with my (university) class," Medvedev explained on his Twitter feed. "The dances/music are those, from the past," he wrote, punctuating with smiley signs.

Both Medvedev, who casts himself as a clean-cut, Twitter-adept moderate, and his more hard-line predecessor, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel and two-term Russian president who oversaw Russia's 2008 invasion of U.S.-ally Georgia, are teetotalers and exercise buffs. But Kremlin watchers have long wondered the degree to which the two men represent competing power centers in Moscow so much as a good cop/bad cop routine with Putin still pulling many of the strings.

They may soon get a chance to find out. With Russia scheduled to have presidential elections next March 2012, there are signs Putin may be exploring a campaign. Among them: Putin unveiled a plan to Russia's Duma Wednesday to spend $53 billion on programs to try to boost the former superpower's declining birthrate, which has fallen 6% since the 1990s, the BBC reported.

Is Medvedev's newly-posted "American boy" dance video then a sign he may be exploring a run against the man largely thought to have installed him in the Kremlin as an acceptable proxy when Putin himself was barred from seeking a third consecutive term as Russian president?

We shall see. For now anyhow, Medvedev has gone some way to "reset" the Kremlin's public image from both the chilly Cold War-reminiscent days of the Putin presidency, as well as from the corrupt and chaotic, vodka-swilling, early Glasnost era of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who amazed onlookers when he emerged from his usual stupor to bust a move during his own 1996 re-election campaign: