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This Badly Photoshopped Image Of Putin At G20 Is Making The Rounds In Russia

The internet is not Putin up with it.

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Following the G20 summit in Germany, Russian media personalities and politicians started sharing a badly photoshopped photo of Vladimir Putin being surrounded by other world leaders, including Donald Trump.

"International isolation of Russia is taking a new turn," said the Facebook post.

However, as many online pointed out, the original photo shows those leaders gathered around an empty chair.

Both the lighting and the positioning in the photo are unnatural, and the nameplate has been changed to say "Russian Federation" instead of "United Kingdom."

Another big giveaway that the photo is fake is the ribbon Angela Merkel is wearing. The ribbon of St. George is a military award which has been adapted by patriots as a symbol for Russian nationalism.


That didn't stop pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergey Markov from sharing the photo with his 22,000 Facebook followers. He then posted the photo again, saying he told Russian independent media outlet TV Rain that the photo is not a fake, just a photoshopped joke.

Facebook / Sergey Markov

"International isolation of Putin, I think, has not been fully successful. Here around Putin: Trump, Erdogan, Chavushoglu, behind him looms Merkel," the original post said. In the follow-up, Markov said, "This joke beautifully illustrates a big truth: the Western politics of isolating Russia fell through. That's why it's a cool photo."

It appears one of the first big accounts to have posted the fake was Vladimir Soloviev, a pro-Kremlin TV host. He has since deleted the photo, but not before it took on a life of its own.

The photo sparked news reports; discussions on Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook; and countless memes.

Many are photoshopping opposition politician Alexei Navalny into the chair Putin originally occupied.

Jane Lytvynenko is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada. PGP fingerprint: A088 89E6 2500 AD3C 8081 BAFB 23BA 21F3 81E0 101C.

Contact Jane Lytvynenko at

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