This article accompanies the fable
When asked why he kissed the boy, Putin later explained that "He seemed to me very independent, sure of himself and at the same time defenceless so to speak, an innocent boy and a very nice little boy...I tell you honestly, I just wanted to stroke him like a kitten and it came out in this gesture. There is nothing behind it."
The incident was covered by the Russian media but it was the international media who really ran with it. A week later (July 5, 2006), an inflammatory article by Alexander Litvinenko appeared on an anti-Kremlin website linked to the breakaway region of Chechnya, in which he accused Putin of having had sex with underage boys. "The world public is shocked. Nobody can understand why the Russian president did such a strange thing as kissing the stomach of an unfamiliar small boy."
True, but give Putin credit for his masterful use of the media. No wonder TIME made him Man of the Year.