Sex scandals are common in European politics, but it’s safe to say no world leader has ever had to deal with something like this.
We’re talking about the phenomenal viral buzz surrounding the latest crisis facing Russian president Vladimir Putin — and all because of a playful prank started by some lingerie-clad students.
Earlier this week, 12 female journalism students from Moscow State University released a questionable calendar featuring photos of themselves dressed in skimpy lingerie outfits. The calendar was meant to mark Putin’s 58th birthday and bore the headline “We Love You! Happy Birthday, Mr. Putin!”
Individual months included captions such as “You put out the fire, but I’m still burning” and “How about a third go?”, apparently in reference to suggestions that Putin may make a third run for office as president.
The calendar generated shock waves across Russia, not just because it was audacious, but because it was produced by students from a supposedly reputable journalism faculty that teaches its students not to suck up to politicians.
But the story doesn’t stop there — not by a long shot.
A second group of students from the same faculty were so outraged, they produced their own calendar as a rebuttal and released it yesterday. But instead of featuring photos of women in their undies, they showed women with their mouths taped shut and brazen captions that attack Putin’s record on human rights and fighting terrorism.
“Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?” asks one of the six “models” in the second calendar, referring to an activist student who was slain four years ago. Other pages in the calendar question Putin’s attempts to combat terrorism and ties to oil industry executives.
A Putin spokesman said the president has not seen the second calendar. As for the lingerie calendar, he had this to say: “I hope these girls study as well as they look.”
The lingerie calendar is being sold in supermarkets throughout Moscow, while the political calendar is available online here at the website of photographer Sasha Utkin. You’ll want to use Google Translator if you don’t speak or read Russian.
Below are images from the competing calendars. Compare and discuss.