No, Putin doesn’t ride bears
One photo shows Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a bear.
In March 2022, as Russia continued its deadly attack on Ukraine, an old image allegedly of Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a bear was circulated on social media:
This is not a real photo but a digital composite created by combining at least two different images.
The picture of Putin, for example, was taken from another picture showing the Russian President on horseback in 2009. Here is a comparison between the real photo (left) and the manipulated image (right):
The equestrian photo on the left is one of several released by the Kremlin over the years, apparently to bolster Putin’s masculine image. The New York Times reported on these photo ops in 2021:
There are photoshoots, there are photoshoots for the President – and then there are photoshoots for the President of Vladimir Putin. Rarely has the leader of a world power taken on the staged public with such creative but clichéd fervor and not only nurtured the global desire for a caricature of himself, but actually created it.
Cue his latest propaganda foray, published by the Kremlin … In a series of photos of Mr. Putin on a weekend trip to the snowy Siberian taiga, the 68-year-old president shows himself in his usual favorite outfit, shows his connection to nature, masculine toughness and appreciation of the country. In the expanse of the largely deserted landscape, it stands out. At least that was probably the idea.
This isn’t the only manipulated image showing Putin riding a bear. A animated clip purporting to show Putin riding a bear achieved tens of thousands of views on TikTok in March 2022.
This video is also fake. Here is the bear’s original footage before Putin was digitally inserted into it.
Friedman, Vanessa. “The Art of Vladimir Putin Photoshoot.” The New York Times, March 23, 2021. NYTimes.com,
Harding, Luke. “Vladimir Putin hugs polar bears on Arctic voyage.” The Guardian, April 29, 2010. The Guardian,
“Vladimir Putin has polished his macho image in new Action Man holiday photos.” Newsweek, August 5, 2017,
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/no-putin-doesnt-ride-bears/ No, Putin doesn’t ride bears