There was a “photoshoot”, a “photoshoot” for the president, and then, a “photoshoot” for Russia’s Vladimir Putin, wrote The New York Times in an article from 2021.
While Western politicians can be photographed with, for example, babies, handing out hugs, or with beer in hand in pubs, there are images of Russian leaders naked on horses or on fishing trips, in judo matches. , or as an ice bath without picking mine, which for years has been out of the Kremlin apparatus.
– Everything that comes from the Kremlin is very well directed, rhetoric expert Ketil Raknes at Kristena University College told Dagbladet.
– Totally invulnerable, masculine, tough, which is about showing that he is in top and in control.
– He’s the king
Aside from a number of shootings with Putin on the field in recent years, there isn’t much left to chance in other contexts.
– You want to give the image of the tsar. He is the Sovereign. He is the king, Raknes thought.
He shows what it’s like when Putin, for example, arrives at a press conference.
There was a guard of honor in succession, and he walked through the large gilded door. He seemed unapproachable. Putin stands above you, and if you make love to him, then he will destroy you.
Blanket of wild lies
In Russia, there is a tradition for so-called personalist dictatorships – that the leader and the state combine into a larger unit, Raknes explains.
– In Norway, for example, it would be unheard of for a picture of Jonas Gahr Støre to hang on a wall in a classroom, but in Russia Putin is considered perfectly normal, and it is a long-standing tradition.
– Decide for yourself
Putin’s picture with France’s Emmanuel Macron, on either side of the table a few meters long, has received a lot of attention in Western media since it was taken in February.
Putin’s Weaknesses: – Loss of face
– It’s not hard to see that the pictures make him seem like a one-sided leader, says Jens E. Kjeldsen.
He is professor of rhetoric and visual communication at the University of Bergen.
Kjeldsen stressed that he did not know “what was moving inside Putin’s head”, but commented on what impression the pictures of the Russian leader gave.
– He is usually depicted in a unique position, which signifies that he decides on his own. This was evident, for example, in the February episode where Putin humiliated his own spy chief. Here the unanimity is strengthened by the fact that those who are a little further down the stairs are sitting together, and have to get up and go to the pulpit to talk to him. While he himself sat behind a heavy, heavy management desk, Kjeldsen said.
A little humor
Kjeldsen also believes that Putin wants to portray himself as the leader of the kingdom, with gilded surroundings, large doors, large tables, large windows with heavy curtains, and scrolls and ornaments reminiscent of western royal buildings.
– A signal of greatness, Kjeldsen concluded.
He believes this expression became increasingly clear during the Putin regime. The same applies to the image of a seriously weighed down leader.
– It is rare to see Putin smile, and he is not a man who surrounds himself with jokes and humor. Again, I don’t know his intentions, but people who never smile or joke are taken more seriously. Having humor and self-irony is also a way to show vulnerability, says Kjeldsen.
Zelensky did the opposite
The pictures you see of the Russian leader put distance between him and the population. The very opposite of what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was trying to achieve when he allowed himself to be portrayed, according to Raknes.
– He played the other way around. In her photographs, there is as little distance as possible between her about the population she represents. Proximity is the ideal of democracy. Zelensky demonstrates this visually when, for example, he dresses the same way as soldiers and hugs them when he visits, or when he paints his face with his children, Raknes said.
Since the outbreak of war, Putin has given a number of televised speeches, as well as staged a widely publicized propaganda show at a Moscow stadium on the eighth anniversary of the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
– What do you think the next step is?
“I think the apparatus around Putin are unsure about how much they will use it, and in what way they will use it, because obviously, nobody knows how the war actually went,” Raknes replied.
But Russia now needs to escalate the war, and must mobilize more people to serve, he added.
– Putin needs to get Russia ready for war, and then he has to go out and talk to people. So it’s very likely they’re planning a bigger mobilization, because they need more in the war, and there’s going to be a campaign, Raknes said.
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