SAME AS IT EVER WAS

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

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

RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER PUTIN GESTURES AS HE OPENS CABINET MEETING.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin gestures as he opens the Cabinet meeting on the 1999 budget, in Moscow on Nov. 4, 1999. (Pool/Reuters)

2000

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SPEAKS AT A MEETING IN MOSCOW.
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with senior ministers in the Kremlin on Aug. 7, 2000. (ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters)

2001

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SPEAKS AS HE OPENS THE SECURITY COUNCIL SESSION IN MOSCOW.
Russian president Vladimir Putin gestures as he opens the Security Council session in Moscow, on Mar. 29, 2001. (ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters)

2002

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SPEAKS AT CABINET MEETING IN MOSCOW.
Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks at a Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Jan. 28, 2002. (ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters)

2003

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SPEAKS DURING CABINET MEETING IN MOSCOW.
Russian president Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during the government meeting in Moscow on June 17, 2003. (ITAR-TASS/Kremlin Press Service via Reuters)

2004

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN HEADS THE CABINET MEETING IN MOSCOW.
Russian president Vladimir Putin heads the cabinet meeting in Moscow’s Kremlin on Mar. 1, 2004. (Pool/Reuters)

2005

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

2006

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

2007

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

2008

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

2009

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

2010

Russia's Prime Minister Putin chairs a meeting, dedicated to the control of foreign investments in the Russian Federation, in Moscow
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. (RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Nikolsky via Reuters)

2011

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

2012

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

2013

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

2014

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

2015

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

2016

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

2017

Russian President Putin meets Cypriot President Anastasiades in Moscow
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. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool/Reuters)

2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow
Russian president Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow, on Mar. 15, 2018. (Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev via Reuters)
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