Nightly News   |  September 12, 2013

Get to know Vladimir Putin

You’ve seen the Russian president ride horseback shirtless, sing “Blueberry Hill” to celebrities and try to negotiate a diplomatic solution in Syria. Vladimir Putin isn’t shy about wielding his power publicly or privately. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> about the piece in the "new york times" it is the latest example of putin 's talent for calling attention to himself and wielding power overtly and behind the scenes . kate snow has that report tonight.

>> reporter: his reputation is legendary. the horseback riding , tiger hunting , hanggliding former kgb spy.

>> russian president and shirt allergy sufferer vladimir putin .

>> reporter: so keen on being the center of attention he'll sing " blueberry hill " to a room full of celebrities.

>> reporter: it's no secret russia 's support of countries like iran and syria strained the relationship between vladimir putin and president obama , causing awkward moments.

>> he's got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. the truth is when we are in conversations together often times it's very productive.

>> reporter: now the leader who has ruled his own country with an iron hand for a decade and a half, who has blocked u.n. resolutions on syria , is publically scolding the u.s. and the obama administration.

>> this is a very clever p.r. move designed to appeal over the head of the united states to a public that he knows very well is highly skeptical at best of a military attack on syria sprks putin 's words drew bipartisan condemnation.

>> it turned my stomach.

>> i was insulted.

>> he says we are all god's children. i think that's great. i hope it applies to gays and lesbians in russia as well.

>> reporter: the russian leader was trending on twitter all day. putin now just basically doing donuts in obama's front yard, said one man. gary kasparav called the new york times pathetic for giving him a platform. if putin gets results on syria 's chemical weapons the administration said today russia deserves some credit.

>> if this can be resolved, however ugly, with cooperation, however cynical, with russia then that might be the out that barack obama is looking for.

>> reporter: for so many decades u.s. presidents had contentious relationships with their russian and soviet counterparts, this is one moment when the u.s. may ultimately get a positive result out of a very difficult relationship. brian?

>> kate snow on the man -- like it or not -- at the center of the news today.