Russian President Vladimir Putin was pictured in high-heeled shoes among students in Moscow yesterday.
The President, who stands at 5ft 7in (170cm), was spotted at a publicity stunt at Vorobyovy Gory for Russian Students Day.
Putin and his propaganda ministers have carefully maintained his public image as President – though observers soon spotted him adding an extra inch with raised shoes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for a photo with students of Lomonosov Moscow State University as he visits the Lomonosov Research Cluster at Vorobyovy Gory in Moscow
Image conscious Vladimir Putin exposes his Achilles Heel during pics with students in Moscow
President Putin has been careful to control his image since coming to power in 1999.
The American historian Timothy Snyder said that Vladimir Putin was ‘seen as the closest match’ to fictional Soviet hero Stierlitz in polls, a national favourite and sort-of Russian James Bond, during his rise in the late-1990s.
Putin has since been careful to curate his macho image, being photographed riding horses and carrying rifles topless.
In 2015, the Express reported that a Kremlin insider said nobody could be taller than the president in official photos.
The source told the newspaper: ‘That’s why his bodyguards are always shorter than he is, to give the impression Putin is a tall person.’
The Economist explained in 2020 : ‘In politics, height matters.’
The magazine reported research that taller politicians outperformed their rivals in the polls, on average.
This was attributed to taller people enjoying higher self esteem, on average, and being perceived as healthier, more intelligent and authoritative.
Vladimir Putin (2-R) stands next to Rector of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Viktor Sadovnichy (R) and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin (2-L), during his visit to the Lomonosov Moscow State University during the Day of Russian Students ‘Tatiana’s Day’ in Moscow, Russia
Vladimir Putin pictured riding a horse topless during his holidays in Southern Siberia in 2009
Putin shows off his Judo skills at Top Athletic School in St Petersburg, also in 2009
Russia has been careful to censor negative representations of the President.
According to The Guardian, Russian lawyers reportedly planned a lawsuit against Warner Bros over apparent similarities between Putin and Harry Potter’s Dobby the Elf.
54% of children, responding to a poll on the CBBC website, said they agreed that Putin and Dobby had ‘probably’ been separated at birth.
In 2017, the Russian President also made it illegal to share a meme of him presented as a ‘gay clown’.
The banned image, below, was called ‘extremist propaganda’.
Image-obsessed Putin banned his portrayal as a ‘gay clown’ and 4,000 other images
Those caught retweeting the image could be fined 3,000 rubles (then $53) or spend 15 days in jail.
Alexander Tsvetkov was charged with incitement of hatred or enmity for sharing several images on his social media account.
The court said the image, according to Tsvetkov, hinted at ‘an allegedly non-standard sexual orientation of the Russian president.’
Tsvetkov was committed to a psychiatric institution for the misdemeanour.
Campaigners for LGBT rights used the meme in media to protest the lack of protections afforded to the community in Russia.
The Russian justice ministry has outlawed more than 4,000 images, which also included anti-semitic and racist content – and painting Putin as a Nazi.
Russia also banned a popular image that showed him next to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in full makeup holding flowers.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk