By CORA BURRIDGE | November 12, 2019
Cover photo by Jørgen Håland / Unsplash
Nesting dolls are just one example of where Putin’s face can be found in Russian souvenir shops.
For most of us, October harkens the beginning of autumn, Halloween and endless pumpkin spice latte memes. However, amongst the barrage of autumnal Instagram posts, an equally important event is occuring in Russia; Vladimir Putin’s birthday. The Russian President turned 67 on October 7th, and celebrated his special day with a photoshoot as he hiked through the Siberian wilderness. Putin is pictured striding through the forests and staring pensively across the Siberian mountains, presumably contemplating his next step for world domination. Dressed in camouflage, Putin sports a modest outfit compared to the infamous shirtless pics we have been blessed with in the past. Though it must be noted, that at one point, the zipper on his fleece does become unzipped, sending middle aged russian women everywhere into a frenzy!
Highlights of the photoshoot include a painfully awkward recline upon some particularly jagged rocks, and Putin comparing his mushroom haul with that of his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu. One must presume that Shoigu wisely chose to pick far less superior mushrooms than his leader, for fear of mysteriously disappearing in the Siberian mountaintops after Putin blows out his birthday candles. The emphasis on Putin’s affinity with nature is also clear, perhaps corresponding to Russia’s recent ratification of the Paris Climate Treaty; enforcing the leader’s love of the environment, provided said environment does not promote the independence of Crimea from Russian annexation.
One gets the sense of a man who is at once trying to project an image of strength and masochism, but also painfully vain. It is well known that he has indulged in Botox and has an intense workout regime that most athletes would balk at. And no wonder he cares about his looks, walk into any souvenir shop in Russia and you will find his face plastered on mugs, plates and even alarm clocks. A frightening prospect first thing in the morning. Though speaking from personal experience, there is nothing quite like a warming cup of tea drunk from a mug depicting a cheeky winking Putin.
As such, we can only look forward to next year’s birthday photoshoot. Personally, I’m advocating for Putin single handedly strangling a shark with his bare hands, or the president serenely baking cupcakes, depicting Lenin in red and yellow icing. Who knows, maybe Western leaders will soon start copying this birthday trend. One can only dream of photos of Angela Merkel yodelling in the Alps or Boris Johnson, triumphantly pictured sailing a ship to go invade France. Alas, until then we shall have to be content with Putin and his mushrooms.
Cora Burridge is a masters student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.
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