Moscow: Boos and catcalls that erupted during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s speech after a mixed fight duel in Moscow have stirred a storm in the media and the blogosphere Monday.
Putin, a judo black belt and an avid fan of martial arts, climbed into the ring at Moscow`s Olympiisky Stadium Sunday night to congratulate the heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko who had just beaten American Jeff Monson.
Just when Putin started talking, the 20,000-strong crowd burst out with whistling and low-pitched shouts.
At the very same moment, Monson was leaving the ring. The din only ceased when Putin praised Emelianenko as "a real Russian hero."
The incident was reported by Russian and foreign media as being the first time Putin had been publicly booed.
Russian state television channels later edited the footage from the stadium to remove the booing, but the original videos have already turned viral in the Internet, reaching 500,000 hits on Youtube as of Monday morning.
The news about Putin getting booed was the top news in the rating by the country`s major online search engine Yandex as of Monday morning.
Olympiisky Stadium director Mikhail Moskalyov told the Lenta.ru website Monday the booing was a reaction to blooded and limping Monson being led away.
A careful examination of the footage shows that the booing seemed to cease when Monson had left the arena. But then a lonely voice yelled "Get out!" when Putin continued with his speech.
There were other explanations for the incident, provided by Putin supporters.
Kristina Potupchik, a spokesperson for the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi, said in her LiveJournal blog the crowd was "anxious" to get to the toilets.
Putin, 59, who announced plans to return to the presidency next year, has seen his approval rating fall significantly in recent months. Only 35 percent support the premier, down from 61 percent last February, according to a poll carried out by the independent Levada Center last month.