Vladimir Putin spent much of Monday alone, it looks like. On the first day of his fourth term, state media photographs emphasized the Russian president moving through events in solitude. He was seen working alone in his office, walking through the Kremlin unaccompanied and standing on stage reviewing a military parade, with no one near his side.
Inaugurations often showcase the peaceful transfer of power from one person to the next, or illustrate a leader’s support. The US presidential inauguration traditionally positions the president-elect with a group of presidential predecessors, as well as supporters like legislators, judges, and family. Opposition leaders will also frequently be visible in the background.
Putin’s forth inauguration showed little of that. Few of his predecessors are still alive, as Putin has been the leader of Russia for 20 years. And while Putin did spend some time gladhanding with people at his formal inauguration ceremony and the military parade after, nearly every attendee who was not military or named Vladimir Putin was corralled behind a velvet rope—even prime minister and former president Dmitry Medvedev.
The result: State images portray Putin as an entirely independent actor—and the only voice that matters in Russia.