Vladimir Putin’s 69th birthday was honoured with a particularly unusual photoshoot on Twitter on Thursday.
The official account for the Russian government photoshopped the president, striding purposefully in a suit, into a golden field with a rather large bear, the national symbol, on its hind legs.
The tweet reads: “He inspires films, books, poems, news, even myths and legends!
“One of the most popular world leaders, President of Russia in 2000-2008 and since 2012, Vladimir #Putin is celebrating his birthday today!
Safe to say, Twitter had some thoughts on the photoshoot.
First, good heavens, this is so bizarre!
Second, of course he’s popular. If you don’t agree with him, you might get killed.
Third, Putin would be tickled pink if he looked up other meanings of “bear”. https://t.co/67jm40UDkv
— Madhu Menon (@madmanweb) October 8, 2021
While the tweet announces he is “one of the most popular world leaders”, Putin has actually imprisoned most of his political opponents such as Alexei Navalny.
Putin is also a notorious dictator who is known to rig elections in Russia so he can stay in power.
He was re-elected for another six years in 2018 and is the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin – according to the BBC, he could even stay in power until 2036.
Russia’s ongoing tensions with the West have made headlines in recent years following the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury and allegations that the Kremlin has interfered with both US presidential elections and UK general elections.
Russia has denied any involvement in either incident, but Western allies continue to suspect the country.
US President Joe Biden even called Putin “a killer” in March, demonstrating how fractured their internationals relationship is.
The Russian president is also known for portraying himself as the country’s action man, frequently sharing PR shots where he’s engaged in some form of sport.
ALEXEY NIKOLSKY via Getty Images