Shortly after New Year, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted a photo of a cover of The Economist magazine featuring his face among many other international leaders. The magazine cover turned out to be fake and resulted in a perfect storm of parodies and memes on the Russian-speaking Internet.
On January 3, Poroshenko posted a photo of the magazine to Twitter (cached archival copy) and added a cryptic caption:
Some gifts I take not as a compliment, but as a personal responsibility. Adding this to my agenda for the holidays.
Eagle-eyed social media users quickly noticed that Poroshenko's image of the magazine cover was doctored. The real issue of The Economist is titled “The World in 2016″ (not 2017) and includes the face of Vladimir Putin (replaced by Poroshenko's image in the edited version).
It is unclear why Poroshenko and his social media team decided to publish it on his official Twitter feed. After the photo caused mass mirth and started going viral, the tweet was deleted. The Presidential Administration's press service defended the feat on Facebook, writing that it was their idea to edit the title and images on the cover, and that the whole thing was nothing more than a holiday joke.
Russian officials were among those who reacted critically to the doctored image. Aleksei Pushkov, head of the Russian State Duma's foreign affairs committee, was especially vitriolic about Poroshenko's “daydreams” of replacing Putin on the global political arena.
Хроники Нарнии: Порошенко всерьез воспринял себя на обложке The Есоnomist рядом с лидерами ФРГ,США,Индии,Китая..Грезы, далекие от реальности
— Алексей Пушков (@Alexey_Pushkov) January 3, 2016
The Narnia Chronicles: Poroshenko seriously sees himself on The Economist cover next to leaders of Germany, US, India, China.. Daydreams far removed from reality.
In return, Poroshenko's press staff lamented the “lack of humor” their idea had met with in official circles and on social media.
Окрім маси позитивних поширень з офіційних сторінок цей пост викликав також не новорічну бурхливу реакцію окремих підписників та російських змі. Останні без жодної краплини гумору, сприйняли цю обкладинку як цілком реальну перспективу втрати Росією місця серед світових лідерів.
Але з огляду на те, що це був наш подарунок Президенту до Нового року, ми б хотіли, щоб подібні святкові ідеї сприймались з часткою жарту, і обов'язково через призму пошуку Україною свого місця в світі.
Besides a slew of positive shares from the official pages, this post also caused an entirely non-New Year violent reaction of some subscribers and the Russian media. The latter, without a single drop of humor, took the cover as an entirely real possibility of Russia losing its place among the world leaders.
But since this was our New Year's gift to the President, we'd like such festive ideas to be taken with a grain of humor, and always through the lens of Ukraine searching for its place in the world.
However, no one can get away with accusing the Internet of a “lack of humor.” The social media meme machine had already been set in motion, with RuNet users mocking Poroshenko's image editing skills and suggesting other magazine covers Poroshenko could grace, Rolling Stone and Vogue among them.
Порошенко освоил фотошоп! pic.twitter.com/JyRQgX8p6i
— Dru (@nikalies) January 4, 2016
Poroshenko has mastered Photoshop!
А чего Порошенко твит то удалил? Дальше бы фотошопил свою рожу на обложки журналов pic.twitter.com/UYireYOrJG
— Мюсли Лаврова (@LavrovMuesli) January 4, 2016
Why did Poroshenko delete the tweet? He could have kept on photoshopping his mug onto magazine covers.
Pro-Kremlin media weren't far behind, with outlets like Vesti and Ministry of Defense channel TV Zvezda quickly catching onto the trending story and gathering some of the photoshopped covers.
— Телеканал ЗВЕЗДА (@zvezdanews) January 4, 2016
Poroshenko has become the hero of photoshoops because of a fake The Economist cover.
Photos from social networks
Playboy Порошенко: президент Украины наконец-то пришел к успеху https://t.co/hRSzBQSEGZ
— Вести.Ru (@vesti_news) January 4, 2016
Playboy Poroshenko: Ukraine's President finally achieves success.
In turn, some enterprising users offered their alternatives to what the “World in 2016″ would look like, basing their creations on the current RuNet memes. Unlike Putin, it seems, Poroshenko did not get a feature in this particular forecast.
Долучайте до порядку денного pic.twitter.com/VvIvAvgN71
— таня (@kotanya) January 3, 2016
Add this to your agendas.