Putin and the American Bear

Who said Kremlin propaganda can't be entertaining?

Vladimir Putin celebrated his 69th birthday yesterday. To mark this special occasion, the verified government account @Russia tweeted: "He inspires films, books, poems, news, even myths & legends! One of the most popular world leaders, President of Russia in 2000-2008 and since 2012 - Vladimir Putin is celebrating his birthday today! #KeepCalm #Putin69" The text is accompanied by this image:

While opinions about the peculiar tweet are mostly conveyed as commentary regarding its ridiculousness, one thing is certain: the bear was photoshopped from an image displayed on the American Museum of Natural History website.

The original depicts a diorama of two Alaskan brown bears, one of which was snatched away from his sibling to virtually keep Vladimir Putin company on his birthday.

Internet sleuths immediately exposed the plagiaristic nature of Kremlin's jubilant image and the American Museum of Natural History skillfully replied: "Ah, yes! The Alaska brown bear diorama at the Museum dates back to the early 1940s. Brown bears along the Gulf of Alaska are the largest of their kind, thanks to a steady diet of protein-rich salmon." (Live Cam here.)

The ensuing creative memes did not disappoint:

Despite the general atmosphere of hilarity generated by the celebratory tweet and expressed by most internauts in funny replies, some reminded the Russian leader celebrating his anniversary that "Quite a few will be missing theirs this year..." - a reference to journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was shot dead in the lobby of her apartment block in central Moscow on October 7, 2006, on Putin's 54th birthday. Politkovskaya was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and criticism of Vladimir Putin. Previous attempts on her life had been made, including a poisoning attempt. Her murder is considered the one single act that killed freedom of the press in Russia.

The Oval Pawffice

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