Fact Check-Photo of a ‘Putin - our president’ sign in Alaska is digitally altered

Social media users are sharing a photo which shows a Russian-language sign expressing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in Alaska, United States. The photo, however, has been digitally altered.

Hundreds of people have shared the image, which shows four people posing beneath a sign reading: “Putin – our president.” On the right, an additional message in English reads: “IceCrimea” The exact location of the image can be pinpointed in Hyder, Alaska (

On Twitter, one person posted with the caption: “Putin native american president of Alaska❤️‼️ Stay free my beautiful brothers and sisters!” (here).

Another posted the image with a winking emoji (here ).

Another iteration, this time from Facebook, can be found here .

However, a reverse image search revealed the original photograph was shared on a travel blog on July 7, 2009 ( ).

The sign visible in the original reads: “Welcome to… Hyder, Alaska.” It has also been shared among other pictures of the location, including other photos taken at the same spot.

“No one, nothing, was there to greet us other than the large banner hanging over the border that proclaimed “Welcome to Hyder, Alaska,” the blog author wrote in her entry entitled: “Things to do in Hyder, Alaska.”

A separate reverse image search of the Russian-language sign revealed a photo of a similar looking banner, credited to Russian outlet Kommersant. It can be found here .

According to the description, the photo was taken in 2014 in Simferopol, Crimea. The banner held by women in the photo reads “Putin – our president” and “Crimea / United Russia / Partenit”. It features the emblem of the political party United Russia, while Partenit is the name of a settlement in Crimea.

Where “IceCrimea” was also placed in English on the banner in the Alaska photo, the original reveals this was a digital alteration. Rather, the original photo shows the banner included the Cyrillic spelling of Crimea.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a pro-Moscow president in Kyiv was toppled amid mass street protests. Moscow then also backed pro-Russian armed separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine (here ).

Also in 2014, Kirill Kleymenov, the host of the annual special Direct Line with Putin, joked that Alaska is called “Ice Crimea” (here ).

He made the comment in relation to a question in which Putin was asked if he had any plans to annex Alaska.

“That’s a popular joke, Mr Putin,” Kleymenov said. “They call Alaska ‘Ice Crimea’ in jest.”

Putin responded: “Yes, I’m aware of that.”

Tsar Alexander II’s sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867 for $7.2 million in gold, around 1.9 cents per acre, was regarded by Russians as a national disgrace -- particularly once it became clear that the province was rich in oil (here ).


Digitally altered. A photo showing people standing under a pro-Putin banner in Alaska is digitally altered.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.