Fact Check-Image of Putin hunched over in suit jacket dates to August 2017 and is not proof that he recently started wearing a bulletproof vest

An image of Russian President Vladimir Putin hunched over wearing a tight suit jacket has been shared online in May 2022 with claims that the photograph was taken recently and is proof that the Russian president has recently started wearing a bulletproof vest. The image is not recent, however, and dates to August 2017. It is also not clear from the photograph, which shows crinkles in the suit jacket, whether the image indeed shows Putin wearing a bulletproof vest as claimed online.

One user shared the image on Twitter on May 21, 2022, with a caption that reads: “Looks like Putin has start [sic] wearing bulletproof vest” ( here ).

The tweet gathered over 23,000 likes at the time of writing. An archived version of the tweet can be seen ( ).

Comments on the post suggest that many users were unaware that the photograph dated from years before the 2022 war in Ukraine.

One user added in the comments: “It's not hugely surprising that President Putin has decided to wear a bulletproof vest. He's totally isolated himself and made Russia a global pariah. It's all self inflicted [sic]. The world is watching this disaster closely” ( here ).

A user who shared the claim on Facebook in May 2022 said: “Looks like international criminal Putin putler [sic] has start wearing bulletproof vest” ( here ).

Other examples of the claim shared on social media in May 2022 can be seen ( here ), ( here ), ( here ).

The image, however, dates from August 2017.

A reverse image search reveals that the picture was published by the Russian outlet Kommersant on August 4, 2017 ( ).

Per Kommersant, the image was taken by photojournalist Gleb Shchelkunov on Aug. 4, 2017, when Putin flew to Lake Baikal for his election campaign ( here ).

The image was also shared in a blog that that was published on August 4, 2017 ( here ).

The photograph was also shared by numerous accounts in August 2017 via Twitter ( here ), ( here ).

It is also not possible, simply by looking at this photograph, to determine whether it shows crinkles in President Putin’s suit jacket, or whether he is wearing anything underneath.

Reuters has previously addressed miscaptioned images shared online pertaining to the war in Ukraine ( here ), ( here ).


Miscaptioned. An image of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hunched over in a tight suit jacket was not taken in May 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The photograph dates to August 2017.

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