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Leonid Bershidsky

Why Shirtless Putin Is Having the Last Laugh

He wants to be seen as a strong man unconcerned by sanctions. Western media laps it up.
Playing the long game, without a shirt.

Playing the long game, without a shirt.

Photograph: Sputnik via AFP/Getty Images

It's August, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been to Tuva -- the place where he is usually photographed shirtless. The slow news cycle certainly accounts for some of the attention that the latest Kremlin-released photo session has received from global media. But something else accounts for most of it: Putin's incredible success as a troll.

QuickTake Vladimir Putin