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.

Not just the paparazzi-loving tabloids published whole photo galleries from the selection: The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time did, too. Few heads of state could boast of similar success with their government news products. The achievement is especially impressive given that Putin was already photographed shirtless in the South Siberian region on the Mongolian border in 2007 and 2009 (on another fishing trip to the region, in 2013, it was probably too cold for the shirt to come off, but Putin still got the social networks excited by kissing a large pike he’d caught).

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.