Vladimir Putin has cultivated the image of a man who has the world at his feet: Official pictures show the Russian president riding on horseback bare-chested, catching big fish bare-chested and tranquilising tigers (sadly) fully-clothed.

But now Russian children have been invited to reimagine their leader in even more ornate surroundings – thanks to a drawing contest organised to coincide with forthcoming national elections.

The limitless possibilities of draughtsmanship, as opposed to photography, mean the 65-year-old has now been portrayed as a giant, an astronaut, a many-limbed God, and even the sun itself.

Znak news reports that the contest has been organised to coincide with campaigning for forthcoming elections, where Putin is expected to be returned as president.

The winning pictures will be announced on 18 March – the day of the vote – and afterwards enlarged and hung in the president's offices.

The contest is open to five to 17-year-olds, with each participant earning a Putin badge and a Russian tricoloured badge to boot.

In keeping with Russia's cast-iron commitment to fair and open democratic processes, parents and teachers are not allowed to help.

Early entries include a delightful portrayal of Putin bottle-feeding a deer. Another outdoors-themed effort shows "Uncle Vova" staring solemnly into the distance wearing a skinned wolf.

It is the more abstract creations however, which offer a genuine contrast to officially commissioned photo-shoots.

One shows Putin sat behind a desk with six arms like a crazy, bureaucratic Ganesh. He uses the medley of limbs to juggle office work and ice hockey while also straightening his tie.

Critics have suggested that running the competition so close to the election was a breach of campaigning laws.

The contest has been organised by a private institution, the Resource Center Information Agency Infrastructure of Charity.

Civil rights campaigner Grigory Melkonyants told Znak: "As far as we understood from the evidence of the competition, its organiser is an individual entrepreneur... [and] he does not engage in campaigning as such – he just organised a creative contest. But for the educational institutions that decided to participate in the contest, questions arise, because the competition is clearly political in nature, and the central figure of the contest is one of the candidates for the presidency, and it seems to me that educational institutions should not take part."