Pumping iron, sipping tea, and birthing memes: How Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev inspired a nation
On August 30, President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met up for a joint workout session, followed by breakfast and tea, at Putin's official residence in Sochi. A camera crew was on hand to capture this latest episode in Russia's most prominent bromance, and the images from the gym and breakfast table have fast become fodder for jokes and memes online.
As is common with jokes about the relationship between Putin and Medvedev, many Russian Internet users suggest that their friendship is something more. In the image below, Putin's longtime alleged romantic interest, Alina Kabaeva, is seen reacting poorly to photos of her supposed squeeze smiling so contentedly at another man.
Other Twitter users decided to relocate the tea party to more modest grounds, where Russia's leader might break bread with the salt of the earth:
Others sensed an opportunity to poke fun at the small height of both Putin (5' 7") and Medvedev (5' 4"):
Some Twitter users took the joke in a more serious direction, like this comic depicting the tea party atop a pile of skulls.
It wasn't all laughs about tea. There were plenty of jokes to be made about the workout session, as well—not all of which were at Putin's expense. For instance, anti-opposition blogger XS_71 compared Putin's exercise to anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who recently tweeted a photograph of himself on a playground swing. XS_71 adapts a popular Russian meme, where different "versions" of a theme are presented as appropriate and desirable by individuals addicted to different drugs.
Some Internet users found truly creative ways to re-appropriate images of Putin pumping iron:
After weeks of discussion about a ludicrously expensive wristwatch Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, wore to his wedding, it's no surprise that Russian Internet users quickly noticed that Medvedev had suddenly abandoned his new Apple Watch for a far more modest replacement. In the comic below, Alexey Navalny, the activist who uncovered Peskov's lavish timepiece, is depicted in a state of shock.