There are photo shoots, there are presidential photo shoots — and then there are Vladimir Putin presidential photo shoots. Rarely has the leader of a global power embraced the staged publicity still with such creative, yet clichéd, fervor, not just feeding the global desire for a caricature of himself, but actually creating it.
Cue, for example, his latest propaganda foray, released by the Kremlin, as bilateral relations with the United States turn frosty, and with the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny’s description of Mr. Putin as a “Vladimir, the Poisoner of Underpants” still reverberating through the air.
“making of” video about his official portrait, depicting himself carefully arranging various symbolic accessories on his desk.
But Mr. Putin has always opted for a different approach. One that emphasizes the physical over namby-pamby paper-pushing, and speaks to old stereotypes of virility, strength and machismo. Not to mention good health. The kind that allows you to stay in office for a long time.
It has become a sort of absurdist art form unto itself.
He was pictured, for example, in a similar sheepskin outfit in 2010 — though without the matching fur hat and mittens — riding through the Siberian snow on horseback, and on a trip to the Russian Arctic, hugging a polar bear. He has ridden a motorbike in black leather (a photo that was so popular, a British company, Matchless London, named a jacket in his honor), played ice hockey (making many goals) and worked out with the Russian judo team.
apogee in 2017, when Mr. Putin was photographed mostly bare chested while hunting, spearfishing and otherwise pursuing manly activities in the Siberian outdoors. Afterward, he was caught basking shirtless in the sun, eyes hidden by black shades.