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All the President's Fishermen: Who's Standing Behind Vladimir Putin?

Source: Kremlin.ru

Source: Kremlin.ru

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took a trip to Ilmen Lake in Novgorod Oblast, about 500 kilometers northwest of Moscow, where they “accidentally” met and ate soup by the fire with a group of “local fishermen.” The trip, which was clearly staged, was supposed to highlight Putin and Medvedev's connection to Russia's “simple people,” and was reported on widely in state media.

RuNet users had a good laugh about the idea of Putin and Medvedev stumbling across a group of fishermen in the course of their daily work, but it wasn't until Orthodox Christmas last week that the fun really got started: on January 7, bloggers noticed the same “fishermen” in pictures from the President's Christmas celebration in Veliky Novgorod, on the banks of Ilmen Lake.

When they forgot to change the decorations.

How fishermen from Ilmen lake actually look when they're not accidentally being visited by the president.

It's a kind of profession – Putin's fishermen.

But some, including the blogger Rustem Adagamov, didn't see what the big deal was.

Explain to me what the catch is. The same fishermen whom Putin visited in September on Ilmen visited him. So what?

Many RuNet users speculated that the people standing behind Putin were officers from the Federal Protective Service (FSO), the state body tasked with protecting the president and other officials.

Peculiarities of the nation's fishermen.

Peculiarities of the nation's fishermen, 2.

An FSO officer recognizes an FSO officer from far away. Without an FSO officer you can't catch a fish from a pond.

Blogger Leonid Volkov, however, concluded that the “fishermen” in fact were activists from Novgorod. Volkov wrote on his Facebook page on the evening of January 7 that he had identified the woman in both photos as Larisa Sergukhina, an entrepreneur and activist from Novgorod.

Transcripts from the Christmas celebration show that Putin spent a good deal of time talking to her.

This post has been updated.

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