A calendar fully dedicated to Vladimir Putin and released by a pro-Kremlin Russian tabloid has attracted attention for its photograph selection.
Ahead of the beginning of the new year, Komsomolskaya Pravda released a calendar for 2024 featuring 12 pictures of the Russian president.
But, as noted by the BBC Russia editor, Steve Rosenberg, none of the snaps chosen were taken after the Kremlin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
This absence, jarring when considering the importance of the conflict in Ukraine, could be linked to the lack of success Moscow has had with its “special military operation” – as the Kremlin continues its illegal invasion of the eastern European nation.
In a report he shared on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Rosenberg said: “Clearly the people who put this calendar together at the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda want Russians to see Putin as a strong man, cool man, father of the nation, yes.
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“But not Putin as the man who started a war. If the invasion of Ukraine had truly rallied the Russian nation behind the president, if it enjoyed support across the board here, you would think it would feature somehow, somewhere in this calendar.”
Among the pictures featured in this calendar is one showing the president smiling while surrounded by young athletes as well as a picture from 2014 of the Russian leader with sunglasses. Another one, dating back to March 2013, shows Putin caressing one of his dogs while surrounded by snow.
One social media user named Eileen responded to Mr Rosenberg by seemingly hinting at rumours concerning Putin’s health.
She wrote: “I will refer you to what General Budanov has been saying for a year. According to him, [Putin’s] last public appearance was around June 26, 2022.”
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Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine known to have made controversial remarks in the past, claimed in September: “The Putin who everyone used to know was last seen around June 26, 2022.”
Asked by Anzhelika Rudenko of Radio Svoboda whether he was suggesting the Russian president may be either dead or in really bad health, the official replied: “Or he doesn’t want to appear. There might be so many different reasons.”
Over the past months, Putin has been plagued by several reports of ill health shared both in Russia and in Western countries.
In August, a post on a Russian Telegram channel ignited concerns about the health of the country’s leader.
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The post by “Z-blogger” Pozdnyakov was accompanied by a picture of Putin and read: “God, don’t you leave us. Pray to God you are alive and healthy.”
A similar message prompted the reaction of Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who posted on X: “What is going on?”
More recently, a Telegram channel called “General SVR” alleged the Russian president had experienced a “sharp deterioration in his health”.
Referring to the possible use of body doubles, the channel claimed: “In the inner circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fuss began with an attempt to create a consensus around the idea of the continuation of the existence of the Putin regime after Putin.”
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