President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday posted a two-minute video of himself speaking English to the General Assembly of the Bureau of International Expositions with a request to grant Russia the right to host EXPO 2020.
In the video, posted on the Kremlin website, Putin speaks with a thick accent while looking directly into the camera and apparently reading from a teleprompter.
"Russia has a long and rich experience of participation in the world expo movement," Putin said. "But in all this time, Russia has not hosted a world expo, not once. Surely, time has come to change this," he said.
Putin vowed that Russia would build a "massive state-of-the-art complex" with a capacity to host 30 million visitors over the course of the expo, and would also sponsor free participation in the expo of 90 developing countries.
The Russian president has been learning English for several years and has given several speeches in English during his terms as president and prime minister, including to the International Olympic Committee in 2007 to ask them to grant Sochi's bid to host the Games.
In a December 2012 interview with U.S. talk show host Larry King, he described his English as "very bad" and said he was learning songs with his English teacher to improve it.
He has also been reported to take lessons in piano, vocal training, hockey and curling. He is a master in Judo, fluent in German and has been shown on television flying a hang glider, riding a bike and a racing car.