Skip to navigationSkip to content
AP, Reuters
A man of many faces.
SAME AS IT EVER WAS

Photos: The evolution of Putin after almost two decades in power

Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Contributor

Russian president Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win his fourth term when voters go to the polls on Sunday, March 18. Putin has been the ever-present face of Russian politics since he was elevated to the role of prime minister by Boris Yeltsen in 1999. Despite Putin’s near 20 years in power, his image has still remained tightly controlled. If he isn’t sternly overseeing a cabinet meeting or delivering a speech, he’s portrayed in state media, documented photo-ops touring factories, or engaging in some sort of manly endeavor.

These photos, syndicated through Western wire services, yet all originating from Russian state media, show that while aspects of Putin’s appearance have changed over time, the rigid posturing of statecraft has not.

1999

Pool/Reuters
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin gestures as he opens the Cabinet meeting on the 1999 budget, in Moscow on Nov. 4, 1999.

2000

ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with senior ministers in the Kremlin on Aug. 7, 2000.

2001

ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin gestures as he opens the Security Council session in Moscow, on Mar. 29, 2001.

2002

ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks at a Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Jan. 28, 2002.

2003

ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during the government meeting in Moscow on June 17, 2003.

2004

Pool/Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin heads the cabinet meeting in Moscow’s Kremlin on Mar. 1, 2004.

2005

Sergey Zhukov/ITAR-TASS/Presidential Press Service via AP
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Kremlin on Nov. 28, 2005.

2006

Itar-Tass/Presidential Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks during a cabinet meeting in Moscow’s Kremlin on July 10, 2006.

2007

Itar-Tass/Presidential Press Service via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin listens as he attends the cabinet meeting in the Kremlin on Jan, 15, 2007.

2008

RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin heads a cabinet meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on Jan. 21, 2008.

2009

Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexey Druzhinin via Reuters
Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin chairs a cabinet meeting in Moscow on Sept. 15, 2009.

2010

RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Nikolsky via Reuters
Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting, dedicated to the control of foreign investments in the Russian Federation, in Moscow on Feb. 3, 2010.

2011

AP Photo/RIA Novosti/Alexei Nikolsky/Pool
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting at the government headquarters in Moscow on Nov. 10, 2011.

2012

AP Photo/RIA Novosti/Alexei Nikolsky/Pool
Russian president Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on fulfilling social policy tasks in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on July 11, 2012.

2013

Mikhail Metzel/RIA Novosti/Kremlin via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting on social and economic development in Moscow’s Kremlin on Dec. 23, 2013.

2014

Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside on July 30, 2014.

2015

Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on Dec. 4, 2015.

2016

Sputnik/Kremlin/Michael Klimentyev via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the Central Election Commission at the Kremlin in Moscow on Sept. 23, 2016.

2017

Sergei Chirikov/Pool/Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony following the talks with Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades at the Kremlin in Moscow on Oct. 24, 2017.

2018

Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev via Reuters
Russian president Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow, on Mar. 15, 2018.
Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.