[PHOTOS] That Bizarre Moment When Putin Was Turned Into Hercules For His Birthday

Hercules, the son of Zeus, performed 12 labours: a dozen incredibly difficult and highly dangerous tasks. But his labours must have been a walk in the park, compared to what Vladimir Putin has had to deal with. Hope you enjoy the hilarious randomness depicted in our RANDOM WEDNESDAY column this week.

Cover image via Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images

Already been featured in our Random Wednesday column previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a man of many talents. He is what you would call a 'Renaissance Man'.

American artist Julius Kacinskis created an entire line of t-shirts around the theme of Putin as a peacemaker and began selling them today at a pop-up store in Manhattan.

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So, to commemorate this legend of a man's birthday on 7 October 2014, admirers and citizens of Russia put together a whole exhibition comparing him to the Greek mythical hero 'Hercules'

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin swims the butterfly during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia on 3 August 2009.

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Nope, it's no joke! Titled The 12 Labours of Putin, the exhibit was held on Monday by members of a pro-Putin Facebook group in Moscow's "Red October" showspace, formerly the site of a chocolate factory by the same name. Putin turned 62 on Tuesday.

"Interestingly, the events of the ancient legends about the mythological hero Hercules can be relayed onto our days, when the three-headed dog Cerberus reminds us of the USA, annihilation of the Stymphalian Birds — of stopping the air raids in Syria and the cleaning of the Augean stables is fighting corruption," the organizers wrote on Facebook, apparently in earnest.

The organizer at the event itself appeared to be a young, bearded man named Mikhail Antonov, whose T-shirt was almost obscured by his blazer. Almost, but not quite — it appeared to read "Vladimir Putin" and have a thumbs-up sign underneath.

He said that members of the Facebook group often sent in artwork depicting the president, and they decided to do a thematic show for the leader's birthday.

So what are the 12 labours of Putin? We list them below:

1. Fight against terrorism (Nemean Lion)

The original 12 Labours of Hercules were acts of penance and toil performed by the Greek hero. To mark Vladimir Putin's 62nd birthday, Hercules' tasks have been given a Russian makeover. Mythical monsters have been replaced by modern monstrosities such as terrorism.

2. Response to sanctions (Lernaean hydra)

Mr Putin grapples with the multi-headed hydra... of Western sanctions. The EU, US, Canada and Japan imposed sanctions after accusing Russia of supplying separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons and soldiers - an accusation Russia denies.

3. The Sochi Olympics (Ceryneian Hind)

Here Mr Putin is celebrated as the hero of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

4. Liquidation of the oligarchs (Erymanthian Boar)

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Destroying the not-so-mythical "oligarch beasts". When Mr Putin came to power in 2000 he vowed to destroy Russia's oligarchs as a "class".

5. Fight against corruption (Augean stables)

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In this painting, Mr Putin fights off the horses of corruption.

6. Stopping air strikes on Syria (Stymphalian Birds)

Putin is depicted stopping Western intervention in Syria - a reference to Russia's veto at a UN Security Council vote in 2012. Putin spoke out for his friend Bashar al-Assad, warning the U.S. and allies not to launch strikes into Syria without the dictator's consent.

7. Contract for French Mistral warships (Mares of Diomedes)

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The Mistral contract was a deal for delivery of warships from France to Russia in a deal worth 1.2bn euros. France has come under pressure to scrap the deal after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russia separatists.

8. Annexing Crimea (Cretan Bull)

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This painting of Mr Putin riding a fearsome Crimean ox refers to the peninsula's breakaway from Ukraine and annexation by Russia in March 2014.

9. South Stream gas pipeline (Belt of Hippolyta)

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The South Stream pipeline is one of Russia's most powerful diplomatic pressure tools. Running across most of Europe from Russia, it feeds the region with a supply of gas that many countries rely upon.

10. Gas contract with China (Cattle of Geryon)

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In May 2014 Russia and China signed a landmark 30-year gas deal worth around $400bn. Here Mr Putin is credited with a trade victory.

11. Support for the Minsk agreement for a cease-fire in Ukraine (Apples of the Hesperides)

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As seen here, backing peace in Ukraine, Mr Putin is painted as a strong leader by the group. "We the people have trusted the leaders of Russia: the tsars, the emperors, or general secretaries of the Communist party," Mr Antonov told the BBC. "Vladimir Putin continues that tradition. He is a hero of the people."

12. Conflict with the U.S. (Cerberus)

In the final labour, Mr Putin is depicted as doing battle with his nemesis - the United States. With a domestic approval rating exceeding 80%, Vladimir Putin is currently enjoying the kind of popularity that Western politicians, maybe even Hercules himself, could only dream of.

In this video of the exhibit put out by, a Russian-language news site, a young woman identified as Yevgeniya, a student, praises the event. "We love him and support him in everything," she said of Putin. "That's why we're here."

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