MOSCOW - Hollywood star Mickey Rourke became the latest actor to offer his praise to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he sported a T-shirt emblazoned with the leader's face at a publicity event on Monday.
"I like this guy," said the 61-year-old star of "Iron Man 2" and "Nine And A Half Weeks", pointing to his new grey t-shirt featuring Putin in a navy cap and surrounded by flowers.
"I am going to wear it everywhere," said Rourke after stripping off his own clothes and putting on the Putin shirt in GUM, Russia's oldest department store across from the Kremlin, where a new brand launched its Putin line on Monday.
"The most polite of men," is the slogan of the collection - a play on the "polite men" nickname given to Russian troops when they appeared on the Black Sea Crimea Peninsula in February to oversee its annexation to Russia.
The brand was developed by young designers Anna Yefremova and Ivan Yershov as part of a project to glorify Russia's latest "victories", such as the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the seizure of Crimea, the organisers said.
Other t-shirt designs show Putin wearing sunglasses or a winter hat with military insignia. The t-shirts are packaged in stylish cardboard tubes that say "It's all good!" Despite relations between Putin and the West deteriorating in recent months over the crisis in Ukraine, the strongman leader has maintained some admirers in the film world.
On Saturday, Hollywood tough guy and musician Steven Seagal played a gig in Crimea, appearing on a stage adorned with the flag of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Seagal, who has promoted martial arts in Russia alongside Putin, said earlier this year that he considers the president a brother.
French star Gerard Depardieu befriended Putin and took Russian citizenship earlier this year after criticising new tax laws in France.
Russia and the United States are in the midst of their worst standoff since the Cold War, with Washington accusing Putin of illegally annexing Crimea and continuing to arm pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
But at home Putin is enjoying spectacular support, with 87 per cent of Russians approving of his policies last week, the highest rating since Moscow fought a brief war with Georgia in 2008.