No one was surprised that Vladimir Putin won the Russian presidency on Sunday. With no strong candidate for the opposition to unite around, the election was widely expected to go his way. There were also widespread allegations of election fraud tipping the scales in his favor.
What was surprising when Putin won? His tears.
When Putin took to the stage to announce his victory at a rally outside the Kremlin on Sunday, his right cheek was wet, the eye teary.
Putin told his backers that the tears were just the result of a bitter wind. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov later echoed his words. But his opponents seized on the salinity as a sign of fear.
"Did he cry when residential houses were exploded in Moscow [in 1999]?" opposition leader Alexei Yashin asked thousands of people who rallied Monday in downtown Moscow. "Did he cry when the Kursk nuclear submarine sank? Did he cry when Moscow metro [trains] were exploded?"
"No," the crowd shouted back.
"He cried because he is scared," Yashin concluded.
Others joked that Putin wasn't really shedding tears: His rumored facelift had gone awry. Former world chess champion and opposition Garry Kasparov joked at the Monday rally that it was just "Botox leaking" from his face, alluding to widespread speculation that Putin has gotten injections.
To see more of the speech (and those surprising tears) watch this video from Russia Today:
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles and Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow
Video: Vladimir Putin announces his win in the Russian presidential election. Credit: Associated Press