Putin
Vladimir Putin in the C-Explorer 5 submersible in the Gulf of Finland in July 2013Aleksey Nikolsky/ Reuters

Vladimir Putin's spokesman accused the world of having it in for the Russian president this week, arguing that the headlines about his links to a $2bn trail of offshore deals and loans were evidence of a new psychological condition in the West: "Putinphobia".

"It's clear that the level of Putinphobia has reached a level at which it is impossible a priori to speak well of Russia, and it's required to speak ill of Russia," said Dmitry Peskov, after the publication of 11.5 million files from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca – including information about Putin's friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin.

It is true that Putin's recent foreign adventures – from Georgia, to Crimea, Ukraine and Syria – have alienated Europe, Britain and the US, while his 16 years as Russia's strongman, alongside human rights violations, a crackdown on the press and the murders of both critics and journalists.

Putin's reputation as a bully when it comes to world affairs is also well-documented. He famously brought his pet Labrador to a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, although he claimed later he did not know she was afraid of dogs. He once threatened to "hang" Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvalli "by the balls".

But elsewhere Putin has his fans. He has cultivated a macho, no-nonsense and openly anti-Western image, which has appealed to both Russians and those outside the country. This author was once confronted by a Serbian journalist over dinner in Tel Aviv who declared: "There is only one leader in Europe: Vladimir Putin".

One thing that Peskov does have right is that, for better or worse, Putin generates headlines. And if we are all Putinphobes, would that be so wrong? Here are five reasons why not.

Putin with a tiger
Vladimir Putin shows a tiger cub to journalists at his Novo Ogaryovo residenceREUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool RUSSIA

1. Putin loves dangerous animals

Putin took in five young Siberian tigers in 2013, which were released into the wild a year later. In 2015, one of the animals killed a bear (at Putin's bequest, it is alleged. The bear had wronged him in some way). A year earlier another went on a killing spree in China, eating a number of goats.

This year it was revealed that yet another one of 'Putin's tigers' had escaped and was running amok in a Siberian forest. A coincidence? Or a practice run for the future tiger army the Russian president plans to deploy in the deserts of the Middle East?

Then, of course, there are the dolphins...

Putin Hockey Match
Putin signs fans' jerseys after a hockey matchReuters

2. His fans are kind of creepy

No power-crazed strongman would underplay the role of the cult of personality in cementing his rule, but some tributes to Putin over the years have been particularly cringe-inducing. One of the worst came in 2007 when Irina Ponnova, a pensioner, composed a book of children's poems about the Russian president with stanzas such as: "Just like flowers, here and there/ Young children in Russia now/ Have the name of PUTINYATA!"

But it may be that the adulation is not reciprocated. It was reported that in 2006 Putin shocked onlookers after he lifted up a small boy's shirt to kiss his stomach, before saying he wanted to "squeeze him like a kitten".

Putin rides a horse topless
Putin rides a horse in southern Siberia's Tuva region in August 2009REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin

3. No man in his 60s should spend that much time half-naked

Love him or hate him, Putin has managed to maintain a relatively honed physique despite juggling foreign wars, an economic meltdown and a country of 150 million people – but does he need to show it off quite so much?

Vladimir Putin judo fight
Vladimir Putin takes part in training judo fightReuters

4. Putin doesn't need an army to wage war

The Russian president is a lifetime practitioner of the martial art of judo – so he is deadly. He also spent 15 years in the KGB and once single-handedly prevented pro-democracy protesters from trashing the Soviet embassy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He can fly jets, pilot submarines, scuba dive and, being a keen hunter, handle firearms. He also been known to tackle natural disasters, once co-piloting a jet to put out a forest fire.

Putin topless
A topless demonstrator with a message on her back walks towards Vladimir Putin in Hanover, GermanyJochen Lübke/AFP/Getty Images

5. He could be a threat to your marriage

Not only does Putin cultivate a macho man image, but he is on the market. He was recently hailed as Russia's most eligible bachelor by Tayny Zvyezd, a Russian celebrity magazine. Following his divorce, he said in an interview that he "had enough love in his life".